One of Us (Joan Osborne song)

One of Us (Joan Osborne song)
"One of Us"
Single by Joan Osborne
from the album Relish
Released February 21, 1995
December 28, 1995 (re-release)
Genre Rock
Length 5:21 (Album Version)
4:16 (Edit)
Label Blue Gorilla
Writer(s) Eric Bazilian

Rick Chertoff

Music sample
One Of Us

"One of Us" is a song written by Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters) and originally released by Joan Osborne. Released in March 1995 on the album Relish and produced by Rick Chertoff, it became a top 40 hit in November of that year.



Bazilian discussed the song in an interview, saying "I wrote that song one night — the quickest song I ever wrote — to impress a girl. Which worked, because we’re married and have two kids. But we were in the middle of writing Joan’s album, which was a group effort with Rick Chertoff and Joan and Rob and I, and I did a demo of “One of Us,” this wacky little demo which I ended up putting as a hidden track on the CD of my first solo record, and I played [it] for them. And it really hadn’t even occurred to me that it was something that Joan might do, but Rick, in his wisdom, asked Joan if she thought she could sing it. And I think it was better that he asked it that way rather than “Do you want to sing it?” Because the answer to that might not have been yes. But she definitely said she could sing it, and we did a little live demo of a guitar and her singing it. And when I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should’ve gotten to give."[1]


The song deals with various aspects of belief in God by asking questions inviting the listener to consider how they might relate to God, such as "Would you call [God's name] to his face?" or "Would you want to see [God's face] if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?" The title of the song comes from the refrain, "What if God was one of us?"

The album version starts off with four lines from a Gospel music song "The Heavenly Aeroplane":

Oh, one of these nights at about twelve o'clock
This whole earth is gonna reel and rock
Saints will tremble and cry for pain
For the Lord's gonna come in his heaven airplane.

Music video

Directed by Mark Seliger and Fred Woodward, the video was mainly shot on Coney Island, with various attractions like rollercoasters, ferris wheels and the New York Aquarium shown, interchanged with the vintage-looking shots in sepia and Joan singing in front of the camera.

Critical reception

In 1996, William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League, took issue with the song. Because "even [Joan Osborne's] admirers see something of the sacrilegious in her work", Donohue claimed the song was agenda-driven and danced "awfully close to the line of Catholic baiting".[2] On the other hand, Roch Parisien called the song "a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff."[3] In 2007, the song was ranked at #54 on "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's".[4]

Track listings

CD single - France
  1. "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
  2. "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
CD single - USA
  1. "One of Us" (Album Version) — 5:21
  2. "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
CD maxi single - Europe
  1. "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
  2. "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
  3. "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
  4. "Crazy Baby" (live from Fox Theatre) — 8:06


Awards, chart performances and sales

The song received Grammy nominations in 1996 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.

In January 1996, "One of Us" hit the top 10, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

Peak positions

Chart Peak
Australia (ARIA)[5] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 75)[6] 13
Belgium (Ultratop 40 Wallonia)[7] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[8] 1
Canadian Adult Contemporary (RPM)[9] 5
Canadian Rock/Alternative (RPM)[10] 1
Canadian Top Singles (RPM)[11] 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[12] 19
France (SNEP)[13] 10
Germany (Media Control AG)[14] 18
Ireland (Irish Singles Chart)[15] 8
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 12
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[17] 14
New Zealand (RIANZ)[18] 11
Norway (VG-lista)[19] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 1
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[21] 6
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[22] 20
US Adult Pop Songs (Billboard)[23] 16
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[24] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 4
US Pop Songs (Billboard)[26] 2

Year-end charts

Chart (1996) Position
Australian Singles Chart[27] 6
Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart[28] 8
Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart[29] 16
Dutch Top 40[30] 69
French Singles Chart[31] 55
US Billboard Hot 100[32] 30


Country Certification Date Sales certified
Norway[33] Platinum 1996 10,000
US[34] Gold January 26, 1996 500,000

Appearances in other media

  • The theme song for the CBS television series Joan of Arcadia is a version of "One of Us" re-recorded by Osborne specifically for the show

Cover versions and parodies

  • Prince covered the song on his Emancipation album, changing the phrase "just a slob" to "just a slave like one of us".
  • Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies recorded a cover of the song.
  • In 1997, the rock group Zilch (later called SONICFLOOd) pondered the song on their tune "In The Sky" with the line, "...she asked if God was just a slob like us, well maybe something there is lacking".
  • Dance covers of the song have been recorded by various artists, including Outta Control, Nasara, and Pariz.
  • An R&B style cover of the song by Cheryl Pepsii Riley was featured in the film Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005).
  • Martyn Joseph recorded a version of this song.
  • Gregorian covered the song in their 2007 album Masters of Chant Chapter VI.
  • Bob Rivers wrote the parody What if God Smoked Cannabis? in 1997. (Often incorrectly attributed to Weird Al Yankovic [35])
  • Theo Tams covered the song on his tour.
  • In 2009, Rivers Cuomo, Joe LoPiccolo, and Rainn Wilson collaborated on a cover for Sirius XM radio.
  • Indiana Gregg included a cover of this song on her album Woman at Work
  • The Italian singer Eugenio Finardi has recorded an Italian cover titled "Uno di noi" (One of us in Italian) in 1996
  • The German singer Klaus Lage recorded a German cover titled "Was wenn Gott" in 2003.
  • Another German version, "Einer wie wir", 2007 by Erdmöbel has been performed by the Hooters themselves during recent German and European tours.
  • Jermaine Sellers sang his version of "One of Us" as his first audition in front of the judges on American Idol Season 9.[36]
  • In 2001, Chihiro Onitsuka covered this song at a special live.
  • The song is covered on the Glee episode "Grilled Cheesus".[37]
  • German singer/songwriter Stefan Stoppok published his version of the song in 2000, with him performing together with bassist Reggie Worthy.[38]
  • In 2011, Singapore singer - Kit Chan covered this song in her comeback album (Re-interpreting '重譯').

See also


  1. ^ Will Harris (February 25th, 2008). "Popdose Interview: Eric Bazilian of the Hooters". 
  2. ^ Grammy Nominee Joan Osborne "Relishes" conterversy, The Catalyst Vol. 23, No. 3, April 1996
  3. ^ Roch Parisien. "Joan Osborne - Relish - Review". 
  4. ^ 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
  5. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Hung Medien.
  6. ^ "Joan Osborne – One of Us –" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Hung Medien.
  7. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us" (in French). Ultratop 40. Ultratop & Hung Medien /
  8. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Ultratop & Hung Medien /
  9. ^ "Adult Contemporary - Volume 63, No. 10, April 22 1996". RPM. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 62, No. 21, January 08 1996". RPM. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 25, February 05 1996". RPM. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us". Suomen virallinen lista. Hung Medien.
  13. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us" (in French). Les classement single. Hung Medien.
  14. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche -" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  15. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Joan Osborne search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Stichting Nederlandse Top 40.
  17. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100. Hung Medien /
  18. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us". Top 40 Singles. Hung Medien.
  19. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us". VG-lista. Hung Medien.
  20. ^ " – Joan Osborne – One of Us". Singles Top 60. Hung Medien.
  21. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. The Official Charts Company.
  22. ^ "Joan Osborne Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs for Joan Osborne. Prometheus Global Media.
  23. ^ "Joan Osborne Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Joan Osborne. Prometheus Global Media.
  24. ^ "Joan Osborne Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Alternative Songs for Joan Osborne. Prometheus Global Media.
  25. ^ "Joan Osborne Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Joan Osborne. Prometheus Global Media.
  26. ^ "Joan Osborne Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Pop Songs for Joan Osborne. Prometheus Global Media.
  27. ^ 1996 Australian Singles Chart (Retrieved September 5, 2008)
  28. ^ 1996 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart (Retrieved September 5, 2008)
  29. ^ 1996 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart (Retrieved September 5, 2008)
  30. ^ "Single top 100 over 1996" (in Dutch) (pdf). Top40. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  31. ^ 1996 French Singles Chart (Retrieved April 20, 2010)
  32. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1996". Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  33. ^ Norwegian certifications. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  34. ^ U.S. certifications. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  35. ^ The Not Al Page
  36. ^ Jermaine Sellers American Idol Season 9 "What If God Was One of Us Video" (Retrieved January 25, 2010)
  37. ^ Malkin, Mark (September 29, 2010). "Hallelujah? Glee Has a Spiritual Awakening". E! Online. E!. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  38. ^

External links

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