06. Arcade Fire - Wake Up


Artwork by Adam Sarpalius


As 2009, and the decade come to a close, PMA will be looking back at our favorite songs of the last ten years. We will update a list with 75 empty slots until we reach that song that changed everything. You can keep track of this list by keeping an eye on this page. We make these lists in hopes that you guys will chime in the comments and share your favorite musical moments of the noughties.

Unsurprisingly, an Arcade Fire song would wind up as a top 10 track of the decade. The question is: why "Wake Up"? The case could easily be made for "Tunnels," "Rebellion (Lies)," "Power Out," "Intervention," you name it. So what makes "Wake Up" the defining Arcade Fire track? The sixth-best song of the last ten years?


I journeyed by ferry to an Arcade Fire concert on Randall's Island (in NYC) a few years ago. The ferry ticket was round trip, so as Win Butler and company concluded their tour-de-force performance, my friends and I sprinted toward the small boat, trying to make sure we caught the first one back and didn't have to wait until 1 A.M. to get home. "Headlights Look Like Diamonds" was the encore, the soundtrack to this scramble, and as we approached the ferry we found a massive line to get on. We would have to wait a while. Sad, depressed, but ecstatic about the show, we discussed how brilliant the band had been. And as the perfect emotional coda for the night, off in the distance, barely visible, Arcade Fire yelled loud enough for us all to hear: "OHHHHHHHH, OH, WOAH-AH-OH-OH." I didn't need to actually see the stage to know what was happening. The band was completely in sync and one of the best songs of all-time was softly ringing in my ears.

"Wake Up" is an epic that can lift you up when down, fill your heart with happiness when it needs it, give you that kick, that sense of urgency to get going. Arcade Fire is known as both an important band and a band that revels in their own self-importance. No song feels more important than "Wake Up," pushing for young people, the same people who fueled the indie rock movement the band captivated, to wake the hell up.