Top 10 list of Superman mentions in pop music

Aug. 29, 2008 | 2:15 a.m.

Randy Lewis, who has written about music for the Los Angeles Times since the 1980s, has a truly heroic music collection. Here’s his thoughts on Superman taking flight in pop music through the years. 

When it comes to superheroes making their way into popular music, it’s hard to beat Superman. Here’s a list of my Top 10 favorite instances of the Man of Steel in pop tunes.

10. “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” Jim Croce (1971): “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape/You don’t spit into the wind.” Timeless advice.

9. “Kryptonite,” 3 Doors Down (2000): The Mississippi rock band is more interested in the super guy’s fatal flaws than his mission to protect truth, justice and the American way (seen above).

8. “Superman Lover,” Johnny "Guitar" Watson (1976): The R&B-funk-rap set often fantasizes about super powers in the boudoir, other examples including Mario’s hyper-romantic “Kryptonite” to Eminem’s outrageously self-aggrandizing and vindictive “Superman.”

7. “So Long, Superman,” Firewater (1998): A catchy pop-punk ditty anticipating Lois Lane’s Pulitzer prize-winning commentary (in “Superman Returns”) about a world with no need for the favorite son of Krypton.

6. “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” Five For Fighting (2001): The emo crowd just can’t get with the notion of invincibility, does it?

Check out the Top 5 after the jump…

5. “Superman,” the Game (2008): The Compton rapper’s new track is a hilarious send-up of hip-hop breast-beating: “It’s a bird, it’s a plane/Naw [expletive], it’s the [expletive] Game.” Er, it IS a send-up, right?

4. “O Superman (For Massenet),” Laurie Anderson (1981): Performance art and minimalist music made it briefly into the mainstream when Anderson turned to the caped one for her hypnotic meditation on modern life. (We originally wrote that the song came out in 1982. We’ve since changed to 1981.)

3. “Sunshine Superman,” Donovan (1966):  The Scottish Bob Dylan paid his respects to the son of Jor-El at a time when substance experimentation made anyone feel like he could fly.

2. “Superman,” R.E.M.  (1986): Mike Mills (taking the lead vocal duties of Michael Stipe for a change) sounds a bit of a braggart, a bit of a stalker, and a lot like Clark Kent in this jangling plea to the objet d’amour who’s just beyond his reach. The song is a cover of the 1969 song by the Texas band called The Clique.

1. “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman,” The Kinks (1979): Once again, the Kinks’ erudite Ray Davies takes the Everyman’s viewpoint in this disco-rocker sung by a scrawny wimp yearning to be more like the Man of Steel.

For more on Superman in music, check out the Soundboard blog.

–Randy Lewis

UPDATE An earlier version of this post implied that Michael Stipe sang lead vocals on "Superman," it was actually Mike Mills with Stipe lending back-up. This post also now adds the tidbit that the original version of that song was by The Clique.

More in: Uncategorized, Superman

Comments


13 Responses to Top 10 list of Superman mentions in pop music

  1. Jordan says:

    Why no love for the Crash Test Dummies???
    Sometimes when Supe was stopping crimes/
    I'll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back/
    On man, join Tarzan in the forest/
    But he stayed in the city, and kept on changing clothes/
    In dirty old phonebooths till his work was through/
    And nothing to do but go on home

  2. Jeremiah says:

    What happened to Eminem's song, "Superman"? That seems like a pretty explicit reference, one that worked well in this song.

  3. Matthew says:

    How about Our Lady Peace- Superman's Dead

  4. Steve Younis says:

    I've compiled a list of close to 400 songs where Superman/Clark Kent is mentioned at <a href="http://www.SupermanHomepage.com” target=”_blank”>www.SupermanHomepage.com

  5. The Dark Bob says:

    My humble contribution to this important matter regarding Superman in song.
    "THE ORIGINAL UNIVERSE"
    hopefully the link below will connect you to a "sample" of the song. http://www.darkbob.com/grow/8original.html
    The chorus is:
    Wonder Woman you make me wonder
    Superman your'e not gettin; any younger
    but you've allways come thru
    and you've always been true
    And for you true blue fanboys and girls…just about every line in the song is a comicbook reference! From the opening line of "In this House of Mystery". House of Mystery is a Silver Age DC title. Now you figure out the rest!!
    hope it's fun for some of you.
    The Dark Bob

  6. Ali D says:

    Flaming Lips – Waiting For Superman, is a beautiful song.

  7. Just a note to say that Michael Stipe didn't sing "Superman." Rather, it was sung by bassist Mike Mills… although Michael did provide some background/harmonies.

  8. 0 Comments
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    Desperate measures are needed to preserve the space time contineum. Baord up the block where a nice kid lived and put blockade fence around that empty block.
    The science facilities and the university and the partical eccelarater is to be demolished to makea private park so the time travel to kill a kid where he grew up in the past or future is completly stopped. The place was biult on that spot to hunt the child with panting stockers. The fear and dread of Ms and Mr supuriority is all about Black projects cover up and lies, lies, lies. So do it any way. Consult wether typical androids cant be reprogrammed and send them to sit in a box that is a freight box with the door open on a deserted Island those that have eaten flesh of humans or sucked blood up their nose get a cold nonarobot next to their batteries. The Crystaline beuty of the star-travellor in the future cant be commited to the death sentence. Return it all right for the biological life form!!!! Everyday keep the invisible man from soaking up the life energy of the golden child after you dismantle the particle eccelerater so make at least the noisy bad fumes from the thousand year old vamps that pretend to be 20 are no a real threat. I Hope You see how stopping this energy storm can be about stopping the bullies from thinking hes an industry in a supply of Lucian and mdla that rescues the fony from brain damage!!!
    0 Comments
    THe good boy that dont know there relatives are android robot machines gets lucky gift help 7 days ago
    Get the best food suppressed by the government and make a vending machine and
    lock it to the pavement with a new kind of indestrucible cable. The kid may and is allowed to eat the food as soon as he gets it out. Some one with invisibility is not allowed 50 feet near the little kid. Someone from different ancestry and political beginnings will believe crazy things the second they hear about this!! Mean Soldier man cant say if I dont stand 3 feet away all the time I cant stop the positive ALEIN abduction. And then I hope that no gaurdian spirits can be captured. The water can have no chemicals or added agents in it, amd the plastic bottles have to be without black magic. The machine is to have a uncutable cord or chain worth $10,000 that cant be cut with a lazer even or diamond saw Those standing next to the vending machine must be subject to suspicion that they are jelouse of the nice kids having a firm good head and might switch the food despenced lie hardened criminals with the power to switch the food held right in his hand while mindwiping him/her of the process.
    The Boy gets a medallion with the best spot tissue sample in the the body of the of their compatible mate, in such a way the other gender is not hurt at all. The cells are placed in a nano bead that wont melt when its put in the mold of the one of a kind medalion. And the medalion is the best thing with a suppresed power crystal that they suppressed for bieng the little 1 CM crystal is a true soul and they wanted to stop it from developing true sentience. They wanted it cut and cut and under a a physics laser with a broken spirit to slurp its soul fragments like big rainbows of energy while stabbing its ethric astral heart. They dug 1000 mile to get that one crystal they detected with phycic cloravouyent ESP now theres a big hole in the magnetic field where it was they tried to shrink it in an instant time warp. They do not realy dig one mile at a time they are enviose of something super clean. May there be a program where that last molicule still left in the lab go the the childs medalion recieveing the potential gift of Joy in thier new medalion.
    And then the kid gets to keep it in a safe that The crystal cant be host to one evil nano robot or slimey stuff like black magic. Then they can say “Women I ask you to be my friend forever!”
    0 Comments
    What is the number of lab Buildings that have some person stuck with no reincarnation hope 30 days ago
    I order you to do one thing. A grand show of bennovelence accross the galaxy.
    Tell your coming out that your leaders allow the soul ghost into another plane of existance. Be sure to jump on the roof and set up a 14 foot pole that 1/2 ft wide pointing up on each one of the expensive biuldings that happens to set up this sacred practice. Tell them dungeon slaves in the under ground facilities they are going to be bounced out of here and make your choice of womb to habitatel Planet or egg in the near future. All the angry rejects that have a problem with this are to be headchecked. If the spirits are to tired to travel as ghost give them an vitalizing object to handle thats shouts “stand up and walk!” If some of them be gone to the Lord God its my decision they each have a helium bubble of top-nocth gov physics Lab projector that will soon get them to soul travel astrally. Interupt the news to say that January 9th is the Holiday for this clever turning: The holiday is called Cleverturn. In dealings with the government their is a great need that they decide not to be the master of the immortals. Pray the souls in the bases do not cry in darkness and end up in a void! Coax then spirIts getting out so they go far and dont fall back. If a groteske demon comes after them give the unclean spirit something beutifull to look at to put it out of commision. Its waiting hungerally for real souls . Get them a bunch of mental energy pills that might be a good distraction. May the nice ones return as a team of star fighter pilots and get the cosmic notice to live forever from Godland that sees our universe as some art in a mansion. As soon as the wicked shadow government knows something feels different be cautouse that your never tricked into giving away your pride to homosexual subliminals put iin the cable telivision programming. Call up Congress and the House of Senate and get a

  9. Scot H Florance says:

    What if they arrested me in the middle of the night injected me witha drug and said your going to the mental hospital. Just becuase I was out side of my apt for a few days missed a haldol pill that was not required by the courts. How do I know that the universe is not 50,000 times 92 light years with 1700 planets in size. Yes the universe was a ray gun in a locked box in a stump an 8 year old Mr Oliff got 102 small stabs from Mr Brickney an alien nonhuman, he ran through the forest shedding intelligent tears from his inner eye…… What do you do? it was a bigger universe no criminal charges can be held. There was the new life power crystal and the 19 buttons where pressed for 6 minutes The ray gun downloads starving peoples blood and takes a sample to make an living life form inside the 50,000 times 92 LT Yr inside the box in the forest stump. The box with the magic ray gun fell underground they will never put this universe on a labbench to save the vulnerable. It will not create another immortal 4 year old boy with ever living flesh heart beat ever again. I dont know how this process works Im ordinary dude I swear. There making holographic projections of some 179 humans that where part of Mr Oliffs essence including Vig Vigura the Starfighter pilot to be the patients at mental hospitals where they have dorms. That movie Gamers showed a few of the 11 people that where made from that 6 minute download of a suicidal Mr Oliff he wanted to kill himself 6 inch centerpede creatures just stung him over and over before he smashed the lock on the box with our universe in it . Mr OLiff needed 6 meals a day and 10 cups of water his gift of the Spirit was hes anti demonpossion. Robot driods that own Mr Oliffs world think hes worth 31 dollers as a live specimen and they love Mr Brickney who stocked him since age 4 under directions from Mr Drake another killer of children. Vig Vigura Mr Oliff's great grand father starfigher pilot went to an ocean world by himself saw many new life forms under water and some land Dinos.

    • donaldmesza says:

      Im the 12 some of mr olf hers in pendilton hospital super demons 40 feet bi scorpian its not save flying saucers over the roof at 1 am in the nite. nby my body? i dont think so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! burn on fire !!!!!!!!!!

  10. Julie says:

    Anyone know the name of the song sung by a guy that sounds like Eddie Vedder. He sings about Superman. I heard it on the radio and the station didn't give the name of the song or artist.

  11. James says:

    Genesis mentioned Superman and kryptonite in 1974’s Carpet Crawlers.

  12. Clark says:

    Crash test dummies.

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