Skip to content

Songs to Save a Life

Hospital uses music to teach CPR timing

Songs to save a life


The hands-only CPR speed needs to be at about 100 beats a minute.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, better known as CPR, may look simple, especially if you watch a lot of TV medical dramas. Someone presses down several times on the victim’s chest and presto! They’ve saved a life. Easy peasy, right?

Well, yes and no.

For hands-only CPR, which is recommended for adults, those compressions need to be done at the right place on the chest (in the center, between the nipples), and the speed that you press down needs to be about 100 beats a minute. Can you do that?

You can if you have a catchy song to help you maintain the proper rhythm. That’s how New York Presbyterian Hospital trains its first responders. They often use the ’70s classic — and aptly titled — Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” because it perfectly hits the 100 beats target.

But other songs work just as well. The hospital just released a 40-song playlist to help anyone learn the right beat to perform hands-only CPR.

The CPR list includes ear candy classics like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” the Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” and Phil Collins doing “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

There are also tracks from Simon & Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, Madonna, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and more.

Learning how to do the chest compressions is also simple. A 60-second video on the hospital’s website is all it takes to show you the right moves.

Keeping those songs in mind (or on your phone) can make a difference. A recent study found that bystanders who can do hands-only CPR until help arrives can double a person’s odds of surviving sudden cardiac arrest.