Popular (Nada Surf song)

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Nada Surf Popular.jpg
Single by Nada Surf
from the album High/Low
Released June 1996
Format CD single
Recorded December 1995
Genre Alternative rock, post-grunge, hard rock
Length 3:36
Label Elektra
Songwriter(s) Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca, Gloria Winters
Producer(s) Ric Ocasek
Nada Surf singles chronology
Music video
"Popular" on YouTube

"Popular" is a song by Nada Surf and the first single from their debut album High/Low. Each of the verses in '"Popular" presents, in spoken word format, sarcastic advice to teens. Initially offered in a calm, deadpan voice, the lyrics gradually build Kinison-style in teen angst and rage.

The song reached number 11 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and propelled the album to number 63 on the Billboard 200. "Popular" was also a big hit in France, reaching the Top 10 with a total chart run of 15 consecutive weeks in the French Top 50. It was also used in France in a TV commercial for the radio station Fun Radio, which was then the most influential radio station among teenagers.

Background and recording[edit]

The whole song, except for the chorus, are parts made up from the 1964 teen advice book Penny's Guide to Teen-Age Charm and Popularity, written by television actress Gloria Winters. The excerpts are spoken in a sarcastic tone by Matthew Caws. A rerecorded version from 2007 appears on the band's MySpace.[1]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Popular" – 3:36
  2. "Pressure Free" – 2:32
  3. "Oh No" – 2:08

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, directed by Jesse Peretz, was shot at the Bayonne High School, with administration approval, and showed football players and cheerleaders, wearing the uniforms of the school, as well as the three members of the band, Matthew as a teacher, Daniel as a security guard, and Ira as the football coach.[2] The video was styled by Andrea Linett, a former editor at Sassy magazine, who went on to be the founding creative director of Lucky magazine.

The plot consisted of an attractive female cheerleader, taking the teacher's lesson on popularity literally; by two-timing two different football players behind each of their respective backs, under the notion that she deserves "every boy in the whole world" by following that teacher's "Teenage guide to popularity." Only in the video's ironic conclusion, is it revealed that the two players are actually friends and have both been with the attractive cheerleader.

The cheerleader in the music video was portrayed by then 18-year-old Sarah Sebestyen, a student at the time at Professional Children's School in Manhattan.[3]


Chart (1996) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[4] 43
Belgian Ultratip Singles Chart (Flanders)[5] 7
Belgian Singles Chart (Wallonia)[6] 21
Canadian Rock/Alternative Singles Chart[7] 13
Dutch Singles Chart[8] 54
French Singles Chart[9] 10
New Zealand Singles Chart[10] 40
Swedish Singles Chart[11] 13
UK Singles Chart[12] 123
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[13] 51
US Modern Rock Tracks[14] 11


  1. ^ Farber, Jim (1996-07-22). "Nada Surf Is In 'Popular' Demand New York Pop-punk Band's Novelty Ditty Moves Up On Mtv - New York Daily News". Articles.nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  2. ^ "Nada Surf - "Popular"". mvdbase.com. 1996-06-18. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  3. ^ "Nada Surf ‘Popular’ Cheerleader All Grown Up « Regretful Morning". Regretfulmorning.com. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  4. ^ Steffen Hung. "Nada Surf - Popular". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  5. ^ "Nada Surf - Popular". ultratop.be. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Nada Surf - Popular". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  7. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 63, No. 26, August 12, 1996". collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "Nada Surf - Popular". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  9. ^ Steffen Hung. "Nada Surf - Popular". lescharts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "Nada Surf - Popular". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "Nada Surf - Popular". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  12. ^ "Chart Log UK (N)". zobbel.de. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "Hot 100 Airplay". Billboard: 103. 27 July 1996. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "Nada Surf Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 26 April 2014.