The Bird Call That Music Producers Love To Use In Pop Songs

The eerie calls of the common loons have been heard in songs by Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, and more.

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A loon spreading its wings in water, with photoshopped disco balls and club lights above it.
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For decades now, one music star has managed to show up on tracks spanning multiple genres and appear alongside many famous artists—while also remaining bafflingly under-recognized. Any guesses?

Of course, we’re talking about none other than the common loon—a waterbird with striking red eyes and black-and-white checkerboard plumage. This bird’s calls have been used in songs by artists like Michael Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Doja Cat, and Lana Del Rey. They’ve also been used as a sound effect in Hollywood blockbusters like “Harry Potter” and the TV show “Game of Thrones.”

So how did this bird’s call become a regular in everything from hip hop and EDM to pop music? A story in Audubon Magazine dove into this, and guest host Arielle Duhaime-Ross talks with author Maddie Burakoff, an associate editor at Audubon.

Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Rasha Aridi. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday’s science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

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Meet the Writers

About D. Peterschmidt

D. Peterschmidt is a producer, host of the podcast Universe of Art, and composes music for Science Friday’s podcasts. Their D&D character is a clumsy bard named Chip Chap Chopman.

About Rasha Aridi

Rasha Aridi is a producer for Science Friday. She loves stories about weird critters, science adventures, and the intersection of science and history.

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