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Signature Song

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This is a music trope for the (usually) one song by an artist that everyone knows. It doesn't matter how people know the song — maybe it was all over the radio, maybe it was used in a movie, maybe it was used in a TV show, maybe it was used for an ad that got played over and over and over again — but people know it.

These songs tend to be songs with an Epic Riff; they can also be Black Sheep Hits. It's also possible for an artist to have more than one Signature Song, especially one for two or more distinct phases of their career. Whatever the case, these songs are very likely to be awesome.

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Some of the more rabid members of the artist's fandom may accuse one of not being a true fan for disliking the artist's Signature Song, even if said person may like every other song that the artist has recorded — or, inversely, liking the Signature Song more than what Fanon considers the artist's "real best work".

Sometimes the signature song isn't the artist's biggest hit (see Chart Displacement). It also doesn't necessarily run in line with their Signature Style (see Black Sheep Hit).

The song can also be famous due to its inclusion in a certain work. The songs that are potholed are examples of these.

If they made an appearance in Guitar Hero or Rock Band, it's probably this song. If the artist was a composer of Classical Music, the song is probably a Standard Snippet now.

In earlier times, such as the 1930s and 1940s, it was not uncommon for a band or singer to open their set with their signature song or at least a few bars of it, especially when they appeared on radio. With the advent of television talk shows, it also became common for the studio band to play a few bars from the artist's signature song as he or she walked onstage.

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To stop people from leaving at gigs after they've heard the song,note  these songs are normally played live either at the end of the main set or during the encore. Not performing it at all may result in an Iconic Song Request. Some artists or bands will actually avert playing their signature at all. Be it because they consider it an Old Shame, a target of Misaimed Fandom, because they would rather try out some deep cuts on that tour, or any other reason.

Some musicians arguably avert this by having several equally famous hit songs; The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley being three prominent examples. As such, if they'd left off one of their hits from a show it wouldn't have been such an obvious oversight. That said, certainly some of their songs are more identified with them than others. A Black Sheep Hit is somewhat more likely to fall victim to this, for obvious reasons.

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Occasionally, an artist can have a signature song that is eventually usurped by another song (although this could be temporary). It's also possible for an artist to have different signature songs in different countries. Additionally, one could have different signatures songs for different audiences. Though a rare occurrence, it's possible for two different artists to have the same signature song.

Signature songs may be slightly different from region to region, as well.

See One-Hit Wonder for an extreme case of this trope. Not to be confused with Leitmotif or Character Signature Song, which is about signature songs sang by fictional characters.

Artists are listed alphabetically on their own subpage.


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  • Homestuck — While there's a song literally called "Homestuck Anthem", "Sburban Jungle" is arguably more emblematic of the series as a whole, since it's the theme for the in-universe video game the plot revolves around, and it's used as an element in numerous other songs.


 
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"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"

As Tony Goldmark points out, the most memorable element of Song of The South and the only part of it, that's still prominently known, is the song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, which has had many covers over the years.

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Main / SignatureSong

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