California-born and raised Vladimir Ondrasik is better known by his fans as Five for Fighting. The multi-talented artist is particularly known for his piano-based ballads with soft rock twists. Ondrasik’s pursuit into his musical career is credited to growing up in a musical family where he learned how to play a variety of musical instruments. Starting with the piano as a child, then guitar as a teenager, as well s some opera, it didn’t take long for his interest to elevate into singing and songwriting. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in applied science and mathematics, Ondrasik became involved with the glam-metal scene at a time where long-haired bands that specialized in pop-metal music were being replaced by the grunge musical genre.
Becoming Five for Fighting
Come 1995, needing to make some changes in order to achieve mainstream music success, Ondarisk assigned himself his own band name, which was Five for Fighting. It was a name he adopted as the record labels found his own name too difficult to pronounce. Ondrasik, a devout hockey fan, adopted the stage name due to his fondness for the sport. In 1997, he released his debut album, Message for Albert, through the EMI record label, but a few months after its release, the American branch of EMI Records was shut down. This meant the album was not able to produce any official singles, despite the intention to do so. This setback prompted Five for Fighting to leave EMI and find a record label with better stability. This led him to Columbia Records that gave him what EMI couldn’t, which was the mainstream breakthrough he worked so hard to achieve.
Top 10 Five For Fighting Songs
#10 – Bella’s Birthday Cake
“Bella’s Birthday Cake” was supposed to serve as Five for Fighting’s debut single from his debut album, Message for Albert. The album was released on March 11, 1997, but the American division of EMI Records was shut down as of June 1997. This resulted in EMI”s failure to deliver as a recording label what Ondrasik signed up for. According to AllMusic, Message for Albert showed promise an album, as did the singles, including Bella’s Birthday Cake. A hit that should have been but was not given the proper chance to become one.
#9 – The Devil in the Wishing Well
On the US Billboard Adult Top 40, “The Devil in the Wishing Well” charted at number twenty-three after it was released as a single in 2004. It was the second single release from Five for Fighting’s second studio album, The Battle for Everything. This piano-rich ballad focused loosely on a lady named Jane, as well as dealings with the devil and the price that comes with making deals without regarding the potential consequences involved.
#8 – World
From Five for Fighting’s fourth studio album, Two Lights, “World” was the second of three singles it released. This cryptic, piano-driven song served as another heart-heavy classic that pokes away at humanity and the worldly conditions it lives in. On the US Billboard Adult Top 40 chart, World peaked at number fourteen. When Billboard Magazine reviewed this single, Five for Fighting’s performance was among his most captivating work.
#7 – Easy Tonight
The re-release of “Easy Tonight” in 2002 charted on the US Billboard Adult Top 40 and at number twenty on the Recorded Music New Zealand (RMNZ). The original was in the year 2000 and charted at number twenty-six on the same US Billboard chart, as well as at number twenty-four on RMNZ. On the Dutch Single Top 100 in the Netherlands, Easy Tonight charted at number eighty-eight. The re-release came just after Five for Fighting’s breakthrough single, Superman (It’s Not Easy), as the artist’s popularity peaked, as well as the music from his second studio album, America Town.
The song, upon it’s second time release, seemed to have a bit more impact on the listener as the world was attempting to recover from the traumatic events that put the entire world on notice that acts of terrorism don’t simply happen in another nation’s backyard. It’s in our own, too.
#6 – What If
From the fifth studio album, Bookmarks, “What If” served as the 2013 album’s only single. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, it peaked at number twenty-eight, and on the US Billboard Adult Top 40 at number twenty-nine. The wistful piano ballad focused on a series of what-if scenarios in the familiar yearning to live in someone else’s shoes for a while, just to break away from one’s own personal issues.
#5 – Slice
In 2009, from Five for Fighting’s fourth studio album, Slice, the lead single served as a tribute to Don McLean’s 1971 hit, American Pie. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, the song peaked at number eleven and was a number thirty-three hit on the US Billboard Adult Top 40. The song serves as a reminiscence of what life was like when rock and roll was still young and the lives of the average American seemed to be a much simpler one than it is now.
#4 – Chances
On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, “Chances” peaked at number eight when it was released in 2009. It was the first single from Five for Fighting’s fifth studio album, Slice. The song also charted at number fourteen on the US Adult Top 40 Songs and at number eighty-three on the US Billboard Hot 100. Chances was also featured as a song on the soundtrack of A Beautiful Race: The Superleague Formula Album, as well as a promo for World Wrestling Entertainment’s Shawn Michaels. This uplifting easy-listening classic serves as an inspirational piece to believe in oneself enough to take advantage of any chance and opportunity that happens to come along.
#3 – The Riddle
The lead single, “The Riddle,” was released in May 2006, from Five for Fighting’s third studio album, The Lights. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song charted at number forty, and on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 at number eighty-eight. The Riddle peaked at its highest at number four on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary, and at number eight on the US Billboard Adult Top 40. Ondrasik admitted the biggest challenge he experienced while writing the song was dividing time between its completion and with his young son. After eighteen months, the single’s official theme focused on the loving relationship between father and son.
#2 – 100 Years
Released on November 17, 2003, “100 Years” was the first single released from Five for Fighting’s third studio album, “The Battle for Everything.” This RIAA platinum-certified, reflective ballad peaked as high as number one for twelve non-consecutive weeks on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and as high as number three on the US Billboard Adult Top 40. On the US Billboard Hot 100, 100 Years charted as high as number twenty-eight. The sheer beauty of this single is among Five for Fighting’s very best as it remains one of the most soulful performances he’s ever produced throughout his entire career.
#1 – Superman (It’s Not Easy)
The big breakthrough hit for Ondrasik was “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” which was released on April 16, 2001. It was the second single from his album, America Town, and it was a song that was later dedicated to the heroes and victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The tear-jerking, heartfelt ballad about one of the most beloved superheroes of all time peaked at number fourteen on the US Billboard Hot 100.
On the US Billboard Adult Top 40, Superman climbed straight to number one. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary, the song charted at number two, as well as in the nations of Australia and New Zealand. For Five for Fighting, “Superman,” was not only the first time they experienced global charting success, but it also earned a gold certification from the RIAA, as well as platinum certification from the Australia Recording Industry Association (ARIA).
Photo: Photo by Mike Cassidy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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