When you are writing a song about a superhero, Superman has to be the main character musicians like to write about. The Man of Steel has been referenced in dozens of songs and these range from a slight mention in the lyrics, to a whole song. Why is Krypton’s last son mentioned so many times? I think it is because we can relate to the struggles of Clark Kent, his personal relationship with Lois Lane and the fantasy of being the world’s most powerful man. Whatever the case, Superman is a part of our musical culture and here are five of the best.
Five For Fighting – Superman (It’s Not Easy) -2000
This is the stage name for John Ondrasik and the song comes from his 2000 album, American Town. The song is sung from the perspective of the Man of Steel, although, he is not mentioned specifically. He is portrayed as misunderstood and not as powerful as people see him, relating to ordinary people’s struggles to fit in, live up to expectations and fulfill their responsibilities. Superman comes across as a little whiny, yet the song is beautifully written and lyrical. “I’m more than a bird; I’m more than a plane, More than some pretty face, beside a train. It’s not easy to be me.”
Crash Test Dummies – Superman’s Song – 1991
This was the first single by this Canadian band, from their album, The Ghost That Haunts Me. True to the name of the album, the song has some haunting lyrics and is sung as a funeral dirge recounting the life of Superman. The central theme is the death of the selfless hero. The song notes that Superman had the power to commit great evil and bring himself unfathomable riches, but instead chose to use his powers for good, while expecting no payment for his deeds. It also paints a comparison between Superman and Tarzan, who is portrayed as a barbarian and an anti-hero. It’s a very good look at how someone can look beyond greed and vice and choose to do the right thing.
Eminem – Superman – 2003 (uncensored)
This song is a parody by Eminem which features singer, Dina Rae. The song takes the wholesome and good-nature of Superman and twists it with Eminem using him as a role model. The song is about the rocky relationships and promiscuous nature of the girls Eminem has had in his life and how he plans to deal with it. In the end, he explains that he’s no Superman, so don’t expect him to be. Did we ever?
The Flaming Lips – Waitin’ For A Superman – 1999
The subtitle of this song is “It It Getting Heavy?“. I’ve written about the Flaming Lips before (see Five Best Bands to Cover “War Pigs”) and this isn’t the first song they’ve written for a superhero. They appeared on the soundtrack for 1995′s Batman Forever with their song, Bad Days. If you’ve ever followed the Flaming Lips, you know their music is typically way out in left field. In a nutshell, they produce some really good, crazy music. That’s why I love them. This song has even been covered by Coldplay, during some of their live shows, so you know it has got to be good. It describes that Superman is never going to let you down, but there are some things even too heavy for the Man of Steel. Check it out.
Three Doors Down – Kryptonite – 2000
Possibly one of the biggest hits for this band, Kryptonite is possibly one of my favorite Superman songs of all time. It was recorded for their album, The Better Life. The song looks at the relationship between Superman and Lois Lane (presumably). It is really a reference to what lengths a man will go to for the love of a woman. It is an idealized love that a man has to be the hero in a relationship. No matter how you look at it, it’s a really good song! The live video, below, was filmed at the Billboard Music Awards.