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Masked Wolf Has the Most-Shazamed Song in The World, but He Says He Still Has “A Long Way to Go”

He might have the most-Shazamed song in the world, but Masked Wolf isn’t content to simply live off the success of “Astronaut in The Ocean”.

Image of Masked Wolf


It feels a little strange to think that in an era where so much music has been made against the backdrop of a global pandemic that one of the world’s most popular songs dates back to 2019. But for Masked Wolf, that notion is reality.

Masked Wolf, better known to friends and family as Harry Michael, started his career in a rather standard manner for artists in this day and age. A fan of hip-hop from a young age, Harry released his debut single in 2018, not expecting any sort of widespread fame to come knocking. Six months later, Harry shared his single “Astronaut in The Ocean”, an unassumingly bold track which showcased his evolution as a songwriter and a performer.

But of course, things didn’t catch fire right away, and it wasn’t until earlier this year that the song blew up on social media platform TikTok. Before long, “Astronaut in The Ocean” was deemed a viral sleeper hit, with countless plays on the platform soon leading to top ten positions in charts around the world. In September, the track was immortalised as being the latest Aussie song to reach a billion streams, and in October, it received five ARIA Award nominations.

It goes without saying that the track has turned Harry and his Masked Wolf moniker into a household name, with his debut album, Astronomical, arriving in September and proving that he’s not content to simply rest on his laurels.

Now though, as the year comes to a close, the track has reached yet another milestone, Apple Music unveiling its end-of-year stats, and revealed that “Astronaut in The Ocean” is the most-Shazamed song globally, beating out the likes of The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, and even fellow Aussie, The Kid LAROI.

While The Kid LAROI might have Australia most-streamed album (F*CK LOVE (SAVAGE)), the most-Shazamed song in the country (“WITHOUT YOU”), and two songs in the top ten for the most-streamed songs in Australia (#7, “WITHOUT YOU” and #8, “SO DONE”), Masked Wolf has well and truly put Aussie music in the sights of the whole world.

Though The Weekend and Ed Sheeran might have the second and third most-Shazamed songs in the world (with 8.5 million and 8.1 million Shazams for “Save Your Tears” and “Bad Habits”, respectively), Masked Wolf is streets ahead, with 11.7 million Shazams for the song this year alone.

For Harry though, it’s just another day at the office, with his humble nature and dedicated work ethic seeing him unable to focus on anything but the next chapter in his burgeoning career.

To celebrate “Astronaut in The Ocean” being named the most-Shazamed song in the world, Rolling Stone Australia spoke to Masked Wolf about the track’s rise in ubiquity and how it’s become the most-Shazamed song in the whole world.

Firstly, congratulations. What an amazing year you’ve had. How have you been managing with so many ups in a year of so many downs?

I mean, we all live different lives, you know what I mean? Some people are doing it really tough, and luckily for me, at a point where a lot of people were doing the conservative route of having to be locked down, I was living the dream I’d always worked for. So, how am I managing it? I’m very blessed to be where I am, it’s what I’d always worked for, and I just got back from LA doing a three-month trip [full of] songwriting sessions, so I can’t be complaining. But yeah, it’s just managing ‘what is the next song we’re putting out?’, because we’ve got a lot in the bank.

“When the labels start calling you, you know something’s up.”

Let’s just take it back for a sec. “Astronaut in The Ocean” is obviously what’s made you into what is effectively a household name, but for quite some time, the song wasn’t doing much. It came out in 2019, and it was just sitting out there in there the world without much attention for a while. At what point did you realise things were really sort of picking up?

I think it naturally grew to a point where a lot of people were hitting me up, messages. “We love your music” or, “I’m telling my friends about you” was the organic growth. I think when it came to the phase of social media grabbing it, that’s when it really took off again, and it had like it’s second stint of growth. But obviously when the labels start calling you, you know something’s up. So there was a bunch of stuff.

What was that feeling like? Were you thinking, “This will all blow over soon and I’ll be back to trying to make my way through the industry”, or was it a bit more like, “Wow, this is all happening!”?

I was always curious as to when the peak would come and when the decline would start happening, but I mean, you’ve just got to roll with it, I guess. You can’t really be thinking, “Am I going to fall off from this? Am I still going to have to work my full-time job?” or whatever it may be. It’s kind of not the right mentality for when something like that happens. Me, I was just like, “Okay, what are the best opportunities and things I can do from this to be either a better artist or a more well-known artist?” I feel like what I did was the correct decisions and the right route.

“I don’t think things like this validate you, I think your own actions and who you are validate you more than the credentials.”

That must be so validating as well. To have a song like that embraced so heavily when you’ve worked so hard. 

I guess the feeling is more like, “I can’t believe it actually happened” type thing. It’s like with anyone, if you’re training to be an athlete or an NBA player and you’re now in your first NBA game. After five to ten years of training, it’s like, “I can’t believe it actually happened”. I don’t think things like this validate you, I think your own actions and who you are validate you more than the credentials.

It was just recently that it was certified as having reached a billion streams. You seem so humble, so it must have been wild to get a million streams, let alone a billion.

Yeah, I mean, it’s so easy to say “one billion”, but it’s something when you finally think about it you’re like, “Holy crap… to have a song do this much…” Which is crazy, but I think it just shows the power of social media and the power of when something good comes to your ears, how quickly it can just spread these days when compared to the ’90s or the early ’00s.

“I still have a long way to go to be a top tier or even a second tier rank.”

This week as well, we’re seeing that “Astronaut in The Ocean” is the most Shazamed song globally. How does that feel? You’ve beaten out some huge names to get to that point, such as Ed Sheeran, and The Weeknd, just to name a couple.

Yeah, I mean it is awesome, but I’ve always said that the Shazam feat was my favourite thing because it meant that people throughout their day were like, “I need to know what this is”. And they bring their phone out their pocket and they’re like, “Okay, far out, I have to listen to this right now.”

And again, for me, I think it’s a bit egotistical or a bit cocky for me to say, “I have the most Shazamed song in the world, I’m better than Ed Sheeran,” or like, “these guys couldn’t do it”, I think it’s a great category, but I still have a long way to go to be a top tier or even a second tier rank. But yeah, it is a great achievement and trust me, I’m very surprised by it.

You mentioned how people will take some time out of their day to work out what the song is, that must be the sort of thing that you want as an artist, right? To sort of have that almost arresting effect on people?

It’s all you want as an artist. If you’ve got a song or a style that makes people stop what they’re doing, whether it’s the lunch they’re eating, or if they’re driving in the car and they’re like, “I need to know who this is”, whether it’s because of your voice, your sound, or what you’re talking about and your style, then you’re basically on the right track, because that’s how you get known. All the high tier or bigger tier artists, they all have one thing in common and that’s that they all have a different sound.


It’s worth noting that the only other Aussie in this list is The Kid LAROI, and even then, he’s quite far down the list compared. As you say, you’re not comparing yourself too much, though you’re in great company, but what do you think it is about Australian music that’s sort of making the world stand up and take notice?

Just [that] the quality’s gotten better, it’s as simple as that. The quality, the sound, the flow. I mean, you notice the things that go international, you can’t really tell the Australian accent and it’s nothing against the Australian accent, but I mean, the proof’s in the pudding, right? I speak Australian when I speak, but when I’m speaking behind the microphone or I’m singing behind the microphone and rapping, it’s just… I grew up on American hip-hop, that’s what I wanted to be like and sound like.

As I said, when I speak now I’m speaking like a true blue born Aussie, there’s nothing hiding away from that, but I think that the whole style of Australian hip-hop has taken a leap, which is good. I think there’s still a lot of up-and-comers that will get found. I don’t think that The Kid LAROI and myself are going to be like the “nothing’s ever going to beat this”. I still think there’s still going to be that one really big thing that happens again. But yeah, it’s all just a plus really, because Australia is kind of overlooked in that category.

You’ve also been pretty busy lately with an album and more singles. So, with that in mind, does all this success feel like a bit of a double-edged sword? Obviously this attention is pretty great for yourself as an artist, but you don’t want it to overshadow the next chapter in your musical career, do you? You don’t want to be tied to one song, you want the music to speak for itself.

It’s kind of like saying, “Is Harrison Ford tied to Han Solo?”, and the answer is “yes”. It’s something you can’t escape and it’s something you shouldn’t want to escape, because everyone has a breakthrough something. There’s always something that puts you on the radar, and for me, it’s “Astronaut in The Ocean”. For Harrison Ford, it’s Indiana Jones. For whoever it may be, it’s that movie or that game. Y’know, that one game in sports, it’s like, “Who’s this player?” All of a sudden it’s like, “this is how he got found”.

Plus there’s the fact that as you keep evolving, you don’t want to turn your back on things.

Yeah, I mean you can always evolve but still be thankful for your past.

For the full list of Apple Music’s 2021 top charts, and full Top 100 charts-playlists, visit music.apple.com.

Most streamed songs in Australia on Apple Music in 2021

  1. Glass Animals – Heat Waves
  2. Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license
  3. Joel Corry – Head & Heart (feat. MNEK)
  4. The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
  5. 24kGoldn – Mood (feat. iann dior)
  6. Dua Lipa – Levitating (feat. DaBaby)
  8. The Kid LAROI – SO DONE
  9. Tiësto – The Business
  10. Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u

Most streamed albums in Australia on Apple Music in 2021

  2. Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR
  3. Pop Smoke – Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon
  4. Luke Combs – What You See Ain’t Always What You Get (Deluxe Edition)
  5. Ariana Grande – Positions
  6. Morgan Wallen – Dangerous: The Double Album
  7. Justin Bieber – Justice
  8. Harry Styles – Fine Line
  9. Taylor Swift – evermore
  10. Luke Combs – This One’s for You Too (Deluxe Edition)

Most Read Lyrics in Australia in 2021<

  1. Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license
  2. Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u
  3. Glass Animals – Heat Waves
  4. Dua Lipa – Levitating (feat. DaBaby)
  6. Cardi B – WAP (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)
  7. 24kGoldn – Mood (feat. iann dior)
  8. The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
  9. The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber – STAY
  10. P!nk & Willow Sage Hart – Cover Me In Sunshine

Most Shazamed Songs in Australia in 2021 

  2. Glass Animals – Heat Waves
  3. Sigala & James Arthur – Lasting Lover
  4. Jolyon Petch – Dreams
  5. Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license
  6. Tiësto – The Business
  7. Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits
  8. Joel Corry Feat. MNEK – Head & Heart
  9. ATB, Topic & A7S – Your Love (9PM)
  10. Ava Maxn – My Head & My Heart

Most Shazamed Songs Globally in 2021 

  1. Masked Wolf – Astronaut In The Ocean
  2. The Weeknd – Save Your Tears
  3. Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits
  4. Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license
  5. Måneskin – Beggin
  6. Lil Nas X – MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)
  7. Tiësto – The Business
  8. The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber – Stay
  9. Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak & Silk Sonic – Leave The Door Open
  10. CKay Feat. Axel & Dj Yo! – love nwantiti [Remix]