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Black Sheep Hit

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"At first, I didn't even want to play it for the guys. I thought that Metallica could only be the four of us. These are songs about destroying things, head banging, bleeding for the crowd, whatever it is, as long as it wasn't about chicks and fast cars, even though that's what we liked. The song was about a girlfriend at the time. It turned out to be a pretty big song."
James Hetfield, lead singer of Metallica, about "Nothing Else Matters"

Sometimes, a musician has a huge hit with a song that is at odds to their usual style. For some reason, this happens very often with hard rock/metal bands who hit it big with a slow ballad. Or alternatively a hardcore rapper/rap group with a crossover party anthem. For bands with a very niche appeal, the Black Sheep Hit is usually one of the songs "mainstream" enough to receive play on the radio stations.

While having a hit is something most bands strive for, this type of hit can develop into a millstone around their neck because they only wanted to play rock (or metal, or whatever), and now they will forever be associated with this song. Often results in Creator Backlash.

While such tracks may well be the one hit of the One-Hit Wonder, it need not be — a band with other well-known tracks may still have a Black Sheep Hit if the general public mostly thinks of the misfit song when they hear the band's name. If someone does not like the hit song, they may have no desire to check out the band's other works — and, when finally exposed to it, might be pleasantly surprised to discover that they do like the other songs. Conversely, those who do like the hit song may feel disappointed upon finding out that the rest of the band's songs sound quite different.

A Black Sheep Hit will be a result of a Creator's Oddball for many musicians. Often related to Chart Displacement.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Alan Moore considers The Killing Joke to be this. It's one of his most famous and influential comics, but he has stated repeatedly that he considers it one of the worst works he did for DC Comics, let alone overall. Nevertheless, The Killing Joke would end up becoming a prominent element within the Batman franchise and mythos, most notably establishing one of the more popular and adhered to backstories for The Joker. He was even consulted by Tim Burton for Batman (1989) thanks to the comic's influence on that film. However, Moore is more fond of Superman; he wrote considerably more for the character during his tenure at DC, including For the Man Who Has Everything, The Jungle Line, and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, as well as creating or writing multiple Superman Substitute characters (Supreme, Miracleman, Thunderman, Tom Strong to a degree). Paradoxically, while these stories are still beloved by fans of that character, they're ultimately treated as stand-alone tales or pastiches and have comparatively little influence on the latter character's story and setting. Moore's view on Batman, meanwhile, has been summarized by him as "for Christ’s sake, it’s a guy dressed as a bat."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • David Fincher sees The Social Network as this and is amazed that this became his most commercially and critically successful film, when it's so different from his other films, and what he's interested in:
    Fincher: "It’s a little glib to be a film. Let’s hope we strove to get at something interesting, but Social Network is not earth-shattering. Zodiac was about murders that changed America. After the Zodiac killings in California, the Summer of Love was over...No one died during the creation of Facebook. By my estimation, the person who made out the worst in the creation of Facebook still made more than 30 million dollars...And besides, on Social Network, I didn’t really agree with the critics’ praise. It interested me that Social Network was about friendships that dissolved through this thing that promised friendships, but I didn’t think we were ripping the lid off anything. The movie is true to a time and a kind of person, but I was never trying to turn a mirror on a generation."
  • Martin Scorsese considers The Departed to be one for him. For one thing it's set in contemporary America which he rarely tackles (he prefers Historical Fiction and period films and his last "contemporary" film before this was Bringing Out The Dead), secondly it deals with a milieu and city (Irish Mob and Boston) entirely different from his common territory (New York and the Italian Mob), and likewise deals largely with the police force and corruption (whereas he prefers dealing with Villain Protagonist), in addition to having many shoot-outs and action scenes. In terms of narrative, Scorsese noted in his speech at the Oscars that, "It's the first film of mine with a plot" and noted many times that It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars and that he was surprised that it won.
  • More like Black Sheep Cult Classic, but the TRON franchise seems to be this for Disney. Produced in 1982, when the studio was on the ropes and desperate to try anything, a live-action sci-fi film with heavy-duty religious themes and enough graphic violence to power a first person shooter is definitely not what anyone expected out of The Mouse. It made back its budget, and became Vindicated by History for its contributions to CGI, making it possibly the most enduring product to come out of the Disney Dark Age.

  • Chris Van Allsburg is best known as the author and illustrator of Jumanji and The Polar Express (both adapted into successful films), which are quite a bit Lighter and Softer than his other works. For most of his career, Van Allsburg was known for his distinctly moody and evocative black-and-white illustrations (The Polar Express is one of his few works with color illustrations), for his dark and playful sense of humor, and for tackling subject matter that can be fairly scary by the standards of children's literature. Case in point: The Widow's Broom is a gothic-influenced story about a woman who inherits a witch's enchanted broom, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi is a rather creepy tale about a boy who stumbles into a retired magician's garden, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a collection of enigmatic illustrations paired with story prompts (some of which are clearly horror-themed). By contrast, Jumanji is a fairly lighthearted adventure story with a very simple premise, and The Polar Express is a sweet and sentimental story about a boy who travels to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus.
  • Most of the output of Walter Scott is set in his native Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries. His most famous novel, however, is Ivanhoe, which is set in northern England in mediaeval times.
  • J. D. Salinger is best known nowadays as the author of The Catcher in the Rye, his only full-length novel; he was predominantly known for writing short stories throughout most of his lifetime. Thanks to The Catcher in the Rye, which was one of the first successful English novels to feature an in-depth character study of an adolescent protagonist, much of his legacy also stems from his influence on young adult literature (even though he probably didn't write the book with actual teenagers in mind). Other than in that book, though, he didn't really explore the topic of adolescence much (if at all) in his fiction.
  • Ray Bradbury's most famous and widely read work is Fahrenheit 451, a fairly grim and serious dystopian science-fiction novel about the dangers of censorship. Notably, it's one of his few full-length novels; he was predominantly a short story writer, with many of his longer works (e.g. The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, From the Dust Returned, etc.) being "fix-ups" composed of previously published stories strung together. More glaringly, its dark tone, urban setting, and strong political themes differ pretty strongly from the majority of his other works, which were more frequently characterized by their whimsical and Romantic tone (even his horror stories have a rather playful element), their exploration of personal and emotional themes, and their pastoral Midwestern setting inspired by his childhood in Waukegan.
  • W. W. Jacobs's most famous story is The Monkey's Paw, the one and only horror story by a guy who mostly wrote about sailors.

  • Stephen Sondheim was known for writing songs with complex music and dense lyrics with intricate rhymes, which even highly experienced singers often find very difficult to sing. One of the few exceptions is in A Little Night Music, one of the lightest musicals from the later years of his career (which is really saying something, as it's basically Adultery: The Musical), where he wrote a song intended for the non-singer Glynis Johns. To make up for Johns' lack of singing experience, he kept the melody and lyrics markedly simple, resulting in a minimalistic (but very evocative) song where her character laments her disappointment at the state of her life using short and simple phrases. The result was "Send in the Clowns", Sondheim's only mainstream pop hit—which went on to be covered by numerous popular artists (most notably Judy Collins and Frank Sinatra), and eventually became a jazz standard.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Ken Ashcorp's now-defunct YouTube alt foreverpandering had a few videos of him ranting about terrible gaming channels. A popular series of his was just called "iJustine", where he took the piss out of iJustine's playthrough of Portal 2. The people who found these videos on his channel also found videos about other gaming channels that he thought were bad, such as ElectricalBeast and MinecraftChick, so naturally people assumed that he uploaded videos like that regularly. They subscribed, only to find him uploading song covers and making rants about things that aren't gaming channels. He never made another gaming channel rant again.
    • foreverpandering as a whole was temporarily this to Ken in mid-2012, certain videos, including the aforementioned iJustine rants, receiving higher viewership than the music he made on his main channel. This is usually brought up as the primary reason he decided to permanently delete it in late 2012, as he repeatedly stated he was tired of creating content that he didn't feel much attachment to.
  • Parodied in a sketch by Man Carrying Thing called "why is this every youtuber's highest viewed video." The sketch follows an interview with a historian named Dave with an infomative YouTube channel that is overshadowed by a video he made earlier in his career called "PLANKTON FARTS & DIES (real)." He seems dissappointed but resigned when his interviewer asks him how he feels knowing that this one video will likely be his legacy, refusing to answer the question.
  • Rooster Teeth bills itself as a "Comedy Gaming Community," and most of its shows revolve around some form of that. RWBY, however, is an original Animesque action show with no ties to any games (other than its own spinoffs) and a dramatic storyline that becomes darker and less comedic over time. It's one of RT's two biggest hits (up there with Red vs. Blue), to the point where it's receiving a big-screen theatrical release.
  • Vinny of Vinesauce does a wide variety of gaming-related streams, including traditional playthroughs of well-known games, peaks at obscure and often bizarre free games from the Internet, and reactions to new game trailers. His most famous videos, however, are his game corruption videos. This is despite him admitting that the sheer unpredictability of corruptions, while the source of their appeal, also makes it extremely hard to sift anything interesting out of them. Hence the dearth of such streams despite heavy viewer demand.
  • 99% of xFL1PPYx's videos are guides and speculations pertaining to the Saints Row series, that is except for the Top 10 Worst Game Breaking Bugs, which is a list of games in general that have nothing to do with Saints Row. It was his first video to reach a million views, and became his most viewed video on the website by far. Naturally, he made a second video of glitches he deemed to not make the first, but not out of obligation — he actually enjoys the subject.
  • The vast majority of Brant Steele's simulators are based on reality shows such as Survivor and Big Brother, yet their most popular simulator and the one that receives the most website traffic is their The Hunger Games simulator.
  • Super Eyepatch Wolf is a well-known lover of Japanese culture who predominantly does video essays about manga and anime. Funnily enough, though, his most popular creation is a video essay about The Simpsons, which has almost twice as many views as his most popular video essay about a manga series.note 
  • CGP Grey predominately does educational videos about obscure and/or arcane topics that most people don't know about, but his big breakout hit (which is largely responsible for his fame) is the simple explanatory video "The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained", which covers a relatively simple topic that's just frequently misunderstood. He's also pretty well-known for his two-part video on the mythology of The Lord of the Rings, which is notable for being his only video about a work of fiction.
  • Bob Chipman has expressed bewilderment several times that his 2015 review of Pixels—an absolutely scathing profanity-laced rant about the film's many shortcomings—became his most widely viewed video, and one of his only creations ever to go viral. As he's noted: many people first discovered him because of that review, and were subsequently disappointed to learn that it was very different from his usual critical style. For the most part, Chipman is known for his nuanced and cerebral takes on popular culture, generally avoiding the image of a hot-tempered Caustic Critic. He made a rare exception for Pixels because he felt that the film was just that bad.
  • Despite self-admittedly hating drama, Todd in the Shadows's "I Fact-Checked The Worst Video Essayist On YouTube", which catalogues James Somerton's frequent factual errors, done almost completely absent from his usual comedic tone of reviewing pop music throughout the years, has quickly become his second most popular video of all time, only behind "The Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 2020". He's ruefully admitted that, despite disliking drama, it turns out he's good at it.