Top of the songs-to-resuscitate-someone-to Pops

Jack Riley

A team from the University of Illinois medical school has found that the optimum tempo at which to perform CPR on someone who has just suffered a heart attack is 100 beats per minute. Attempting to help make the figure easily remembered in a crisis, the researchers suggested a song as a reference point for the tempo. And the song? "Stayin’ Alive" by the Bee Gees. Yes, really.


It’s tough to imagine it happening; the heroic passer-by running over to help, frantically searching for a pulse, and then casually humming that sugar-coated monument to inanity to themselves while hunched over thumping the chest of some poor shell-shocked and heart-stricken septuagenarian. Imagine having your last words curtailed, or worse, drowned out by that whiney, falsetto nonsense that once passed for pop perfection. You wouldn’t so much shuffle off your mortal coil as, well, jive. And "I get low/and I get high/And if I can’t get either, I really try" doesn’t even make sense.

I hoped we might yet be saved such inglorious expiration. I hoped there were websites for finding other other songs of the same tempo,
and I was right. What I didn’t realise was how bad they are.

Here are some examples I found, from BPM database, courtesy of Wired:


1. Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
2. Mariah Carey – Heartbreaker
3. Jennifer Lopez – Jenny From The Block
4. Ricky Martin – Shake Your Bon Bon

They’re all terrible. Having "Shake your bon bon" hummed at you while you’re dying might actually be worse than "Stayin’ Alive". So at this point I realised that perhaps the BPM song database wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and, armed with an iPod and this handy online BPM counter, I put together this, my cursory list of songs I’d rather be resuscitated to (with the subtitle, perhaps, the most emo mixtape ever):

1. Jimmy Ruffin – "What becomes of the broken hearted" – 96 bpm
2. The Smiths – "Girlfriend in a Coma" – 103 bpm
3. Sam and Dave – "Hold on I’m comin’" – 105 bpm
4. Edwin Starr – "War" – 102 bpm

While "Take a little piece of my heart" (82 bpm) would finish you off for sure and "Cupid" by Sam Cooke (112 bpm) might be a little rigorous  for a life and death situation, the selection above would provide, I think, a less kitsch soundtrack to your survival – and, let’s face it, might well end up being the last thing you hear. Leave any of your suggestions for nice songs to not die to in the 95-105 BPM range below.

Oh, and just one more – Queen – "Another One Bites The Dust" – 105 bpm.

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