How did the band Five for Fighting contribute to music?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The American band Five for Fighting was founded by American singer/songwriter, and son of musicians, John Ondrasik. The name of the band comes from the hockey penalty that consists of sitting in the penalty box for five minutes for fighting on the ice. The band is mainly led by Ondrasik, who hires musicians in and out as part of the musical projects, but ultimately he is the leader and the "face" of the band/

The band became first known in 1997 with the release of the first album titled Message for Albert. The album had minor success and then in 2000 they released America Town. This album had a similar reception to the previous one.

It was a single, and not an album what brought some success to the band. The song Superman came in the form of a nostalgic ballad whose lyrics told a sad version of the story of the life of America's top superhero. In the song, the "Caped Crusader" bemoans his life. He expresses deep pain to be the one who has to carry on with the huge responsibility of, basically, setting a perfect example and keeping the world safe. Far from a courageous :"man of steel", in Superman we find a very emotional individual analyzing his life. Completely detached from an other-worldly origin, or super-powerful abilities, he is a man who experiences human limitations as well: he feels tired, concerned, preoccupied, tired; overwhelmed. Most notable are the lyrics that accompany the chorus which read,

...And it's not easy to be me.

The impact that this song left in the world of music came with the sad coincidence of its release: the September 11 attacks of 2001 shook the national psyche of all Americans. For the first time, as a nation, we truly wished for the protection of a superhero that would keep us away from the forces of evil to which we are evidently now so vulnerable. The song greatly resonated in the souls of Americans, catching a fever-pitch popularity during the aftermath of the tragic events, and becoming a sort of hymn, or theme-song, that seemed to somewhat explain (if not mourn) the current situation.

According to Ondrasik, one of the most impacting moments in his career was when the band sang the song "Superman" in the Concert for New York City, which honored and remembered the victims of 9/11. The emotions displayed by the people who were present, which were televised worldwide, stamped the moment as one which will forever be remembered in American musical history. According to Ondrasik's own words

 “I realized from day one that nothing could recreate the reality surrounding ‘Superman.’  I did hope to make a record that could stand on it's own merit.”

Although the band had mild successes with the rest of its productions, nothing could have topped the success of Superman. It was the combination of reality and art mixed together which brought forth an anthem for a world forever changed. This is mainly the big contribution that this band has made to music.

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