One thing I found abundantly clear in my quest to identify favorite stay-awake techie tunes for late-night work is that IT pros have eclectic tastes in music. A week after posting an article promising a TechRepublic coffee cup to the most interesting responses, more than 225 members proposed their favorite tunes, with responses ranging from classical to rock, country to New Age, and raw blues to Celtic. There were a number of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix albums alongside an Indian classical music entry.

Who is going to get the cup? Well, no way is it going to be based simply on the member’s choice of music!

Our four winners captured the essence of how the music makes them feel. They each will soon have double-size TechRepublic coffee cups to help them stay awake the next time they are thrown into all-night crises.

And now, the winners…
Shostakovich’s Symphony No 5, Op. 47 is the one piece Becky Roberts would listen to in times of great stress.

“Tearing out my hair, caffeine in the IV, biting my nails, I try to focus as I wrench my brain from anticipating the look on the CEO’s face when I greet him at 6 A.M. to inform him of yet another day without e-mail,” she wrote.

The edgy dissonance of Shostakovich playing in the background eases her tension. While listening, Roberts is reminded of Shostakovich’s explanation of his work: “It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, ‘Your business is rejoicing.'”

If Shostakovich hadn’t been a composer, Roberts believes, he would have been a techie.

It takes a queen to produce a prince
Dan “Dang” Geisler said the introduction to Queen’s “Princes of the Universe” on the A Kind of Magic CD sums up the IT professional’s job perfectly. “Here we are, born to be kings, we’re the princes of the universe! Here we belong, fighting to survive in a war with the darkest power!…I have no rival, no man can be my equal, take me to the future of your world!”

“Is any one really as powerful as the sys admin?” Geisler asked. “We really are kings of our domains! Alone in the server room late at night as I battle the dark forces of bugs and users, I have no rival!”

Mixing it up
No light “master of the universe” rock for Brian “Audionut” Roberts. He likes his late-night choice to be a combination of rock, classical, and opera, dealing with the heavy-duty themes of life, death, and good vs. evil. His choice would be Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Beethoven’s Last Night.

“It gets my heart pumping and can make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Just imagine Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ being played by an orchestra with the fret board virtuoso of Megadeth’s lead guitarist,” Roberts said.

“This CD goes from sections of soft, heartfelt solo piano to full, body-crunching power-cords that will knock you over if you’re not careful,” he said. “I would recommend this CD to any student or fan of music. The only problem I have is my boss won’t let me put my sound system in the server room.”

Plugging into the matrix
While Roberts covets a sound system for his server room, Dave Williams recommends a sound system with at least a subwoofer to crank up the soundtrack to The Matrix.

“What better techno-angst theme can there be?” he wrote.

“While rebuilding a server for the third time, because software vendors don’t understand security requirements, thoughts of rampantly blowing things up and being bulletproof are definitely a welcome escape.

“Plus, the speed-rock stuff helps keep you awake.”

I think many IT pros can identify with that.

Thanks for participating

Even though the contest is over, responses continue to flow in, so you can still add your favorite music to the list. Even if you don’t comment, take a look at what others are saying and come up with your own winning list.