(We Could Be) Heroes: Top Ten Rock Songs About Superman, by Martha Thomases
What does one hum on the way to the comic book store? If you’re a person of a certain age, with a certain history with certain illegal substances, you probably have a few songs about the original super-hero stuck in the part of your brain that should be storing French vocabulary words.
Even if you aren’t old, you probably listen to a few songs about super-heroes. The Marvel superhero movies have had fantastic soundtracks, even if most of the songs weren’t written specifically for the movies. The Prince Batman soundtrack is a winner (Vicki Vale!), and the Ramones did a fabulous cover of the cartoon Spider-Man theme.
And yet, the Man of Tomorrow is still the foremost inspiration for popular songs. From the alt-folkie to Eminem, there are Superman songs. Alas, some of the more hard-core take a rather literal approach to the term, “super-man” and imagine all kinds of sexual possibilities that seem to have nothing to do with Truth, Justice and the American Way (nor Kryptonian physiology, nor anything human – entertaining, though).
Here is my choice for the Top Ten songs about Superman:
10. Superman – RuPaul
This is one of those songs that’s not really about Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton. It’s a dance anthem. However, RuPaul looks like a superhuman, and she’s fierce!
9. Superman – Gaunt
The band, from Columbus, Ohio, is not named for our own John Gaunt of GrimJack fame, alas, but they do rock out. And the song is on an album titled “Kryptonite,” so they’ve got that going for them.
8. Superman – Five for Fighting
If you like your Superman emo, this is the song for you. You can buy it on several albums, including the soundtrack for Dawson’s Creek. That’s from the same network that gives us Smallville. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
7. O Superman – Laurie Anderson
Almost nothing to do with the comic book hero, but completely awesome. Also, this song was really popular in the late 1970s, when I was cool, and it makes me feel like I’m still cutting edge.
6. Superman’s Dead – Our Lady Peace
I may like this more than your average person, since I feel such a personal connection to the whole Death of Superman saga, and I’m tickled that someone wrote a song about it. This song captures an appropriate feeling of abandonment and rage.
5. Superman – Bush
Oh, Gavin Rossdale, cute guy! You won my heart long before Gwen Stefani looked at you. And you wrote angsty songs about the Man of Steel, back when you had a band. The song is nothing special, but I ranked it high because I totally heart him.
4. Superman Song – Crash Test Dummies
This was a hit around the time of Death of Superman, and I even persuaded Brad Roberts, the lead singer of Crash Test Dummies, to write something for the memorial issue of NewsTime.
3. Superman – REM
With a chorus, “I am Superman/And I can do anything,” this song has the exultant tone one would expect Superman to bring to any musical performance.
2. (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman – The Kinks
Don’t we all.
1. Sunshine Superman – Donovan
I love the percussive, syncopated beat. I love the trippy vocals. And most of all, I love that it mentions Green Lantern, too.
Martha Thomases, ComicMix’s Media Goddess, wishes Janet Richman the best of luck today when she takes her nursing exam.