It was a few months ago when I first heard the song, “Hit the Ground (Superman)” by The Big Pink. My first reaction was, “My god, not another song about Superman?!” It got me thinking just how many songs are there out there that mention or reference Kal-El. I almost came up with ten off the top of my head. Too bad half of the songs I thought of were fair too mediocre at best (like The Big Pink). When I did some more research, I was surprised just how many Superman songs existed. It confirmed to me that while cosplayers may not love the Man of Steel, rappers and hip-hop artists sure do.
I am not sure what astonished me more, the amount of quantity, or the lack of quality of those that received significant radio airplay. Perhaps the most astounding fact is that there is no close second superhero mentions in pop music. (And before I get started, I want to say on the record that I would take The Ramones’ cover the theme song to the 1960’s cartoon of Spiderman over every Superman song on my list.) Perhaps one day I might into sociological and psychological reasons into Superman’s enduring popularity not only in the United States, but worldwide.
I won’t comment on the hip-hop and rap songs, since I have no desire to listen to all of the B-sides. It does seem that most of the alt-rock songs tend to be a deconstruction or psychological breakdown of Metropolis’ favorite citizen via Smallville via Krypton. And I happen to find that many of the songs are just as boring as a spoken word seminar on the subject. By limiting this list to songs that received some airplay on the radio, I can excuse myself from all of the obscure
And finally, I am limiting my list to songs that specifically allude to Clark Kent and/or his alter-ego. There are many more songs that mention a “superman” in the lowercase “s”: as in the philosophical sense. So nothing about the Friedrich Nietzsche concept of an Übermensch here. So for now, here is the I, Omnibus Top 10 favorite songs that are about, or reference Superman:
10. “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down – This song beats out Wesley Willis’ “I Whooped Superman’s Ass” because Wesley ruined the concept by repeating the same song over and over with other superheroes.
9. “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan – In fairness, it would be #1 on the list of songs that mention Green Lantern.
8. “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang – I’ll admit that this is probably the best overall song on this list. It is only this low on the list because no one remembers the verse about Superman (it’s in the middle).
7. “Resignation Superman” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters – I think I would rather read a comic book series about a super hero group called Big Head Todd and the Monsters than hear another song about Superman.
6. “(Wish I could fly like) Superman” by The Kinks – You can tell the song was made in the late 70’s because it sounds like disco.
5. “Land of Confusion” by Genesis – More because of nostalgia than anything else. What I remember about this song more than anything else (including the video featuring the Spitting Image puppets) is how easy this was to segue before and after when making a mix tape.
4. “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” by The Spin Doctors – Despite having “blues” in the song’s title, it is the least maudlin alt-rock Superman song. It has the most original concept by focusing on the Daily Planet’s milquetoast photographer’s POV.
3. “Jam on It” by Newcleus – A forgotten old school classic. More nostalgia here, as this song brings back some of the very few memories I have of my childhood.
2. “Superman” by R.E.M. – Did you know that this song is actually a cover? I didn’t. The original artist is a 1960’s band called The Clique. The original version sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon theme song, which is probably why I like this song (both versions) so much.
1. “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” by Jim Croce – One of the very few songs out there, and the only song on this list the represents Superman as the badass he is supposed to be. Even though it is just one line, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape,” truer words have rarely been spoken.
- Superman on Radio & Audio (supermanhomepage.com)