Viral 'If I Were A Fish' is TikTok's New Mental Health Anthem

TikTok screenshots of Corook and Olivia Barton singing If I Were a Fish together

If you’re on TikTok in any capacity, there’s a solid chance you’ve gotten a little melody stuck in your head recently. It goes a little something like this:

“If I were a fish and you caught me, you’d say ‘look at that fish’ / shimmering in the sun / such a rare one / can’t believe that you caught one.”

Corook and Olivia Barton singing If I Were a Fish on TikTok
The playful song has taken on a life of its own on TikTok, reaching millions of people / Screenshot via TikTok

The tune is a duet between musician Corook (whose off-stage name is Corinne Savage) and their partner Olivia Barton, both indie musicians.

The pair shared a video of them singing the happy, acoustic song in a video on April 11, which has since garnered over 2 million likes and over 13 million views.

The caption of the video, which was posted by Corook, reads: “I was having a very emotional day, feeling insecure and out of place. So I cried to Olivia, and after feeling through it, we wrote this song in 10 minutes to remember the joy in being different.”

@hicorook

I was having a very emotional day, feeling insecure and out of place. So I cried to Olivia and after feeling through it, we wrote this song in 10 minutes to remember the joy in being different 🐸 happy Tuesday

♬ original sound - corook

The chorus of the song leans into a thesis of radical acceptance and glee, ditching the hateful rhetoric that often thrives online.

Corook on TikTok with the words: Hi um I'm Corook and I wrote that fish song that everybody is singing
Corinne Savage wrote the song on an emotional day and said the lyrics offer a reminder of "the joy of being different." / Screenshot via TikTok

“Why’s everybody on the internet so mean? Why’s everybody so afraid of what they’ve never seen?” the singers ask.

“If I was scrolling through and I saw me / flopping around and singing my song / I’d say ‘Damn, they’re cute’ and sing along”

The song immediately became a hit on “the clock app,” and comments, stitches, and duets came pouring in, from people rejoicing in the song, adding their own musical flair — or even a children’s choir singing the song in school. 

The artist wears a frog hat in a TikTok Duet with a school singing If I Were a Fish, with the words: This makes me cry cause I could have used this song as a kid
The song has even been performed by children at school / Screenshot via TikTok

The song isn’t just an upbeat, catchy carol. It is providing real connection, hope, and joy — for singers and listeners alike.

“I feel like I’m just coming into myself as an adult and allowing myself to be who I have always been and that is somebody that doesn’t really fit into these boxes, that I feel like I would classify as normal, or we would classify as normal in society,” Corook said a few days after sharing the original video

“It’s a really lonely, scary feeling to not fit in, so having such a huge response from all of you wonderful people has made me feel so much less alone. Being different is f*cking cool and I hope you guys feel similarly.” 

A grid of dozens of people singing If I Were a Fish
Thousands of people have used the audio to make their own TikToks and many more have performed their own renditions of the song / Screenshot via TikTok

Three days after posting the original video, they announced the song would be available to stream on April 21 — and now that the full masterpiece is in the world, folks are feeling and healing.

“I cannot wait to sing this song to my baby daughter until she believes every single word because we are breaking cycles over here,” TikTok user @hithisismarissa shared.

“Words can’t explain how much I love this song,” user @rileys_cosplay shared while dancing to the second verse. 

A TikTok reacting to If I Were a Fish with the text: Reacting to the second verse for the first time. Total blind reaction. SOBBING. God Did I Need This Song As A Kid.
People across the planet are resonating with the simple, yet profound lyrics / Screenshot via TikTok

The full version of the song builds on its themes of body acceptance and self-love.

“If I were a rock you would pick me up and say ‘that’s a nice rock,’” the second verse begins. “Skippiest on the lake / plop, plop, plop / I’m the perfect shape.” 

TikTok user @roni.glad recorded their reaction to the full tune, crying along with the caption “God I needed this song as a kid.”

It’s an all-encompassing mental health anthem for anyone who doesn’t feel like they fit in; queer, gender-nonconforming, neurodivergent, disabled, and fat folks of all stripes. 

“Your song has gladly done more work on my emotional and physical well-being than my therapist ever has,” @yourladykaye commented

Caption from Brad Montague, next to an illustration of a fish: After several weeks of busy and heavy, this song arrived like a burst of light. It has made me smile so much. Started drawing a derpy little fish and just had to make this just for the fun of it. Bravo @hicorook and @oliviabartonhaha. Happy swimming this week to all you strange and wonderful fish out there! 🐟 ❤️
Artist Brad Montague created his own set of illustrations to go with the lyrics of the song / Screenshot via Instagram

Other well-known Internet figures are in on it, too. Hank Green tweeted enthusiastically about it, musicians like Tori Kelly commented on the original video, and author and illustrator Brad Montague even wrote a whole issue of his newsletter “The Enthusiast” about the viral hit — and hand-illustrated a mini music video.

“Take the contagious joy of the song ‘If I Were A Fish.’ In it, the singers revel in those rare qualities forming who they are … and who we each are,” Montague said. 

“Maybe in a culture like ours, happiness is that thing which confuses. It’s the defiant calm in a world that celebrates hustle. The radical peace in the midst of bitter back and forths. The glorious audacity of actually liking things. The silly confidence in not feeling trapped by the highlight reels of others, but eager to shine a light all your own.”

Now that the absurd, confusing, audaciously joyful anthem is out in the world, Corook is excited to continue shining the light, empowering people through their individual mental health and body image journeys. 

A large crowd of people form a circle around Carook wearing their green hat and playing a guitar
Corook performed their own surprise sing-along in Washington Square Park and more than 100 people showed up to sing along / Screenshot via TikTok

In fact, they hosted a surprise sing-along in Washington Square Park earlier this week, where over 100 people turned out — and contributed with kazoos and cathartic crooning.

TikTok user @zaidleppelin recorded the impromptu concert.

“That was the most wholesome gathering I’ve ever been a part of,” he gushed afterwards. “The power of the Internet bringing strangers together? Such a delight.”

A large crowd of people form a circle around Carook wearing their green hat and playing a guitar
The song continues to bring delight and joy to millions of people IRL and across the internet / Screenshot via TikTok

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Full Lyrics for “If I Were A Fish” by Corook

Verse 1
If I were a fish and you caught me
You’d say “Look at that fish”
Shimmering in the sun
Such a rare one
Can’t believe that you caught one

If I were a fish and you caught me
You’d say look at that fish
Heaviest in the sea
You’d win first prize
If you caught me

Chorus
Why’s everybody on the internet so mean?
Why’s everybody so afraid of what they’ve never seen?
If I was scrolling through and I saw me
Flopping around and singing my song
I’d say “Damn, they’re cute” and sing along

Verse 2
If I were a rock you would pick me up
And say “That’s a nice rock”
Skippiest on the lake
Plop, plop, plop
I’m the perfect shape

And if I were a sock you would put me on
And say “That’s a nice sock”
Happiest as a pair
I found you now I’m not scared

Chorus
Why’s everybody on the internet so mean?
Why’s everybody so afraid of what they’ve never seen?
If I was scrolling through and I saw me
Flopping around and singing my song
I’d say “Damn, they’re cute” and sing along

Bridge
How lucky are we?
Of all the fish in the sea?
You get to be you
And I get to be me
Just let them be mean
We’re as free as can be
To be the you-est of you
And the me-est of me

Outro
If I were a fish
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
If I were a fish
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
If I were a fish
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
If I were a fish
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Article Details

April 25, 2023 9:59 AM
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