Popular (3:47)

Cover of High/Low

From High/Low and 40 other releases

Popular is Nada Surf’s first radio single, released in June 1996. 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.

The whole song, except for the chorus, is made of parts of a book, Penny’s Guide to Teen-Age Charm and Popularity (Gloria Winters, 1964, Prentice Hall), whose advice are taken sarcastically by Matthew Caws. Those parts are spoken, and not sung.

A rerecorded version from 2007 appears on the band’s MySpace.

Video and controversy

The video for this 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.


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three important rules for breaking up
don't put off breaking up when you know you want to
prolonging the situation only makes it worse
tell him honestly simply kindly but firmly

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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