LOCAL NEWS

Hate Apple’s ‘By the Seaside’ alarm tune? You’re not alone

Jun 23, 2024, 9:10 AM

Apple's "By the Seaside" is perhaps one of the company's most controversial tunes, drawing the ire ...

Apple's "By the Seaside" is perhaps one of the company's most controversial tunes, drawing the ire of many iPhone users on social media. (Hispanolistic, E+/Getty Images)

(Hispanolistic, E+/Getty Images)

New York (CNN)One morning at 6 am, Gyaltsen Moktan woke in a panic.

It was 2019. He worked at an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet and was responsible for opening the restaurant each morning. So he set a wakeup call on his iPhone.

Then Apple’s “By the Seaside” alarm sound went off. Moktan chose the jaunty, cheerful tune available as a ringtone and alarm on many of Apple’s devices, thinking that the song’s easygoing melody would make waking up a peaceful experience.

That bet soured. “The alarm is mocking you in a way. It’s kind of like a horror movie, where they do the nursery rhyme before doom,” said Moktan, now an English teacher in Tokyo, Japan.

“By the Seaside” is perhaps Apple’s most polarizing alarm and ringtone, evoking comparisons to nails on a chalkboard, the word “moist” and screaming children on a plane.

In the past, phones had only one sound: the shrill, continuous ring of a landline. With so many ringtones now available, though, the sounds say more about how people express themselves — and what can cause stress and anxiety.

You probably think you don’t know “By the Seaside,” but you do. On YouTube, there are extended versions, rap versions, versions played on various instruments.

Some people think it’s a great ringtone. And other people say, Oh, my God, it’s terrible,” said Carlos Xavier Rodriguez, chair of music theory at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, of the divisive tune. “You love it or you hate it.”

From knocker-uppers to chirping birds

People have been trying to use sound to wake up reliably for centuries, relying on everything from church bells to roosters.

Some people used to employ the services of knocker-uppers, or workers paid to wake customers by tapping on the door or window with a stick, until the 1970s in some parts of Britain.

The first known alarm clock in the United States was invented by clockmaker Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire in 1787, but his clock rang just once at 4 am.

In 1874, French inventor Antoine Redier patented an adjustable mechanical alarm clock. Seth Thomas patented a mechanical wind-up one a couple years later, and the electric alarm clock was invented by the end of the 19th century. (Its inventors probably didn’t expect the iPhone.)

Alarm clocks have evolved further since then. Some high-tech ones these days are designed to emit light mimicking sunrise, waking users gently with a soft glow and relaxing sounds such as birds twittering or the lilt of a flute.

What is wrong with this song?

Boston Flake, a 15-year old Utah high school student, says that “By the Seaside” is the only alarm that can wake him up every morning for school. Far from a morning person, he has tried creating alarms himself that are mash-ups of songs, blaring sirens, horns and booming bass lines, to no avail.

“It’s kind of a love-hate relationship,” said Flake. “Sometimes I’ll hear it in my dreams, and I’ll get a little jolt and start freaking out.”

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

There are musical elements to “By the Seaside” that make it difficult to listen to, says Rodriguez. There’s no discernible key. The song doesn’t end on a downbeat, so there’s no feeling of resolution when it briefly pauses before repeating.

But a bigger factor of users’ emotional responses is the “uncanny valley” element to the tune, says Rodriguez. The uncanny valley phenomenon is the uneasy feeling people have towards life-like, but not quite human things such as robots, dolls or even clowns. “By the Seaside” has an electronic, cheesy sound of a Casio keyboard that is reminiscent of computerized music eerily devoid of human touch, Rodrigo said.

The alarm sound’s critics are vocal with their displeasure: “if ur alarm is ‘by the seaside’ you are one unserious” person, says one viral post on X, using a somewhat spicier word than “person.” It has received 160,000 likes and more than 15,000 reposts, with many users weighing in with their own thoughts. Some claim that the tune sends them into a “flight or fight” response. Others say the tune gives them heart palpitations and that it fills them with dread.

So controversial is the nautical jingle that it’s even spawned internet lore. Rumors have circulated on social media that pop singer Adele wrote the tune and that it has made her more money than her entire discography combined. Ryan Meadows, the creator of Fake Showbiz News, confirmed to CNN that he started that rumor.

“We like to think (Adele would) find the joke funny. Perhaps it might even inspire her to compose a suite (of) ringtones for the iPhones of the future!” Meadows, who goes by a pseudonym, wrote in an email to CNN.

Representatives for Adele did not respond to requests for comment.

To be sure, the tune has its supporters. Krystal Roxas, a biopharmaceuticals quality systems specialist in San Bruno, California, used to wake up to the default “Radar” alarm. She switched to “By the Seaside” in 2018 after moving in with her boyfriend, who complained that her then-alarm sound made him anxious in the morning.

She has been a faithful listener since. “I love ‘By the Seaside.’ I don’t know why people hate on it,” said Roxas, 34. “I actually let it play out until it’s done. I do a little dance in bed.”

Moktan, 26, concedes that he believes users’ hate for the alarm might stem from the fact that people just end up hating whatever wakes them up. He once tried to set Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr’s “Just the Two of Us” as his alarm, before changing it because he began disliking the song, he says.

“I have yet to find an alarm I like,” Moktan said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Confetti shoots from the Salt Lake City and County Building after Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenh...

Josh Ellis

Utahns react as Olympics set to return to SLC in 2034

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s official. Utah will welcome the world again after the International Olympic Committee selected Salt Lake City to host the 2034 Olympics. “Salt Lake City and Utah are long-time friends of the Olympic Movement, and we are confident that they will organize exceptional Olympic and Paralympic Games, just as they did […]

53 minutes ago

A Utah Transit Authority Blue Line TRAX train in Midvale, Utah. (KSL TV)...

Dan Spindle

UTA lays track for 2034 Games and beyond

Now, 25 years after UTA first unveiled the TRAX system for public transportation on the light rail, transit in the Beehive State could get a big boost leading to the 2034 games.

2 hours ago

The 2002 Olympic cauldron is pictured at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the Universit...

Lisa Riley Roche

Inside the last-minute drama that brought changes to Utah’s Olympics bid

Concerns raised about U.S. response to doping allegations caused concern award might not happen on Pioneer Day.

3 hours ago

Attendees cheer during a live watch party for the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee’s 2034 Winter Oly...

Larry D. Curtis

Salt Lake City is officially the place for the 2034 Winter Olympics

It's finally official, Salt Lake City and Utah have been selected to host the 2034 Olympics.

4 hours ago

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert announces the formation of an exploratory committee to consider a bid...

Deanie Wimmer and Keira Fairmont

Utah’s long journey to hosting another Winter Olympics

Submitting a bid to host the Olympic Games is a huge process and it’s one that's been going on here in Utah for more than 10 years.

9 hours ago

emergency lights...

Carlysle Price

Soldier from Provo killed by suspected DUI driver

A U.S. soldier from Provo, UT was killed after he was hit by a woman driving under the influence of alcohol Monday night.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Hate Apple’s ‘By the Seaside’ alarm tune? You’re not alone