Songs of Superman
Five for Fighting: “Superman”
This somber, soulful melody came on the radio while I was driving home yesterday, and inspired this post. It never actually references the character's name, but rather humanizes him by giving us a glimpse of what it must feel like to be an icon when “Even heroes have the right to bleed” and “Its not easy to be me”. I'm pretty sure it was incorporated into an episode of Smallville at some point but if it hasn't, it captures the essence of the concept of the show that's so great, even if the execution of it isn't always consistent. I'm barely going to mention the Remy Zero theme to the series, especially since the band appeared in an episode playing it at the school prom, forever cementing themselves a place in one-hit theme song history alongside The Rembrandts(who've since sunk to covering an ‘80s cartoon theme song).
Catchy, boppy and repetitive, the lyrics give us insight into either a real or metaphorical Man of Steel, jealous that his girl has left him and boasting the things he can do to keep her if he abuses his abilities. “I know you don't love that guy cause I can see right through you/If you go a million miles away I'll track you down girl.” In all likelihood it is meant as a metaphor, a lovelorn geek retreating into fantasy to deal with a situation in which he is in fact powerless.
Speaking of abuse, I hesitated to include this track, since it portrays a much darker ego trip on the part of the vocalist. Lyrics are extremely, extremely explicit, so you may want to skip clicking this one in which the vocalist envisions himself as a Superman that can “Leap tall hoes in a single bound.” Catchy rhythm; horrible character.
Spin Doctors: “Jimmy Olsen's Blues”
Here's something much lighter, and one of the first tunes I gleefully recognized as referencing a comic book, around the same time I discovered Weezer's “In the Garage”. Rather than focus on the hero, this tune imagined Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen crushing on Lois Lane and bemoaning the impossible competition he would face with an invulnerable superhero.
3 Doors Down: “Kryptonite”
He may be invulnerable, but he does have one weakness: Kryptonite. Granted, he's also vulnerable to magic but for the sake of the 90% of readers not aware of that obscure fact, I'll focus on the irradiated rocks from his destroyed home world. In this song, the singer muses over his own weakness and hard times, and the one person he'd want to stay by his side and treat him as the (super) man he was, even as he deteriorates.
Lazlo Bane: “I'm No Superman”
I've referenced this Scrubs theme before. The song delivers the same message Aunt May told her nephew in Spider-man, and as my music teacher used to tell me: “I can't do this all on my own/No, I know, I'm no Superman.”
Crash Test Dummies: “Superman's Song”
When I sat down to write this article, I planned to limit these thoughts to songs I'd actually heard. The lyrics to this one sounded interesting enough, that I may have to check it out. Is anyone familiar with it?
Superman Returns June 28th, 2006 and may include some of the John Williams theme from the 1978 film. From the shows before I was born, to the movies of my childhood and the animated series and other shows like Lois and Clark, a distinctive style of fanfare always captures the inspirational and heroic nature of Superman, even as the popular songs explore other facets.