Superman (It's Not Easy)

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"Superman (It's Not Easy)"
Single by Five for Fighting
from the album America Town
ReleasedApril 2001
Songwriter(s)John Ondrasik
Producer(s)Gregg Wattenberg
Five for Fighting singles chronology
"Easy Tonight"
"Superman (It's Not Easy)"
"Easy Tonight"
Music video
"Superman (It's Not Easy)" on YouTube

"Superman (It's Not Easy)" (also titled as "Superman") is a song written and performed by American singer Five for Fighting. It was released in April 2001 as the second single from his second studio album America Town. Following the September 11 attacks, the song was used to honor the victims, survivors, police, and firefighters involved in the attacks.[3]

The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 38 on October 27, 2001, then subsequently peaked at number 14, becoming Five for Fighting's first top-forty hit in the United States. The single was a major hit in Australia and New Zealand, reaching number two on both countries' national charts. It additionally reached the top 20 in Ireland, Italy and Norway. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002.[4]


The lyrics focus on the iconic hero Superman, specifically how, in the opinion of the singer, his life as a hero is surprisingly difficult despite his immense power.[5] Ondrasik said the song is about "frustration about the inability to be heard."[6]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Ramaa Mosley and premiered in June 2001. A scene from this video was filmed at Yonge Street and Richmond Street in Toronto, Ontario. At the end of the song's music video, John Ondrasik lies in bed with his own wife and son.



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[25] Platinum 70,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

In popular culture and covers[edit]

  • The song was covered by shadow musician Catman Cohen in 2005 via CD, How I Want to Live: the Catman Chronicles 2.[27]
  • The song was covered by Boyce Avenue in 2011 via YouTube music video.[28]
  • In his 2010 comedy tour, Conan O'Brien sang a cover of the song by himself before Jim Carrey appeared in a Superman suit and the two men sang a duet.[29]
  • An anonymous cover was played on the seventh series of The X Factor after Liam Payne's audition.[30] The singer of this version was speculated to be Joe McElderry, the winner of the previous series.[31][32] This turned out to be true when the track list for his debut studio album Wide Awake was revealed. McElderry's version reached number 56 in the UK Albums Chart on album downloads alone.
  • The Australian comedy rock trio The Axis of Awesome parodied this song with a new song, "Birdplane". This song turned out to affect the band, as it represented Jordan Raskopoulos and her transgender transition.[33]
  • Jimmy Fallon parodied the song on Saturday Night Live about the 2002 Winter Olympics and renamed it "Down Hill Ski". The song was also referenced in the "Ambiguously Gay Duo: The Third Leg of Justice" sketch the same year.
  • The song was used in the television show, Smallville, which portrays Clark Kent's life journey to becoming Superman. In the first season episode 16, "Stray," is the music bed that plays when a young boy with mind reading powers reveals to the Kent family that he is aware of Clark's secret powers, and assures them the secret is safe with him.[34]
  • The song was used on the short lived popular Irish teen drama Tourmakedy Creek when the lead character John laments his difficulty since breaking up with his childhood sweetheart.
  • In 2011, the song was used to honour the memory of fallen hockey player and former Vancouver Canuck, Rick Rypien at Rogers Arena, Vancouver. Rypien committed suicide in the Summer of 2011 after a lengthy battle with depression.
  • A cover of the song by Briana Lee was used in the final scene of the 2018 series finale of the television show Code Black (TV series).[35][36]


  1. ^ Varias, Chris (April 6, 2018). "Cincinnati Pops gets Five for Fighting". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved October 25, 2020. But things have changed industry-wide not only since the last decade when Ondrasik was cranking out soft-rock hits like "Superman (It's Not Easy)," "100 Years" and "The Riddle" under his stage name Five for Fighting.
  2. ^ Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation (July 1, 2002). Pop/Rock. Hal Leonard. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-634-05059-6.
  3. ^
  4. ^ CBS News staff (January 4, 2002). "Complete List Of Grammy Nominees". CBS News. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  5. ^ "Superman (It's Not Easy) by Five for Fighting". Songfacts. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting : Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. November 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  7. ^ " – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  8. ^ " – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Superman (It's Not Easy)". Irish Singles Chart.
  10. ^ " – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)". Top Digital Download.
  11. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 12, 2002" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  12. ^ " – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  13. ^ " – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)". Top 40 Singles.
  14. ^ " – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)". VG-lista.
  15. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ "Five for Fighting Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Five for Fighting Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  19. ^ "Five for Fighting Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Five for Fighting Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Five for Fighting Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "2002 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  23. ^ "End of Year Charts 2002". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 2002". Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2002 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on August 10, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "American single certifications – Five for Fighting – Superman (It's Not Easy)". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 11, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  27. ^ "How I Want to Live: the Catman Chronicles 2".
  28. ^ "Boyce Avenue – Superman (Five For Fighting Cover)".
  29. ^ "Conan O'Brien & Jim Carrey Perform Superman Live". Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  30. ^ cover version plays in the background after Payne's audition
  31. ^ Joe McElderry Forums | Joe song on The X Factor ?
  32. ^ Joe McElderry – Wide Awake
  33. ^ "The Axis of Awesome". Brag Magazine – Everything Sydney. April 27, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  34. ^ "Smallville – 'Stray' – Soundtracks".
  35. ^ "iTunes Code Black Season 3 - Single - Superman".
  36. ^ "Facebook post about the cover of the song by Five For Fighting".

External links[edit]