Wednesday, 19 June 2013

My Top Ten Superman Songs

There's a new Superman movie out and I'm reserving judgment till I've see it. Much as I'm a huge comic book fan, I always had problems with Superman as a character... yet there's no disputing his impact on popular culture. The Superman Homepage has compiled a list of 566 (and counting) pop songs that reference the Man of Steel... and, no, I didn't listen to all of them in preparation for this countdown. Just the ten (ahem) or so I found in my own record collection... 

Special mentions to The Superman Revenge Squad (who pop up here quite often anyway), Klark Kent, and Black Lace. (Go on, hitch a ride to the 80s wedding disco. You had to be there. Macho man!)

10. Laurie Anderson - O Superman

As annoying as Black Lace were... be honest now, is the full 8 1/2 minutes of Laurie Anderson's biggest hit any less so?

(You also had to be there.)

See also Sueperman's Big Sister by Ian Dury, which was apparently spelled that way to "avoid copyright issues". Like that bothered anyone else on this chart. 

9. Straw - Weird Superman

Lost indie classic you've never heard of alert!

See also Superman's Song by the Crash Test Dummies, which is TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD. F@#k me. Oh, and Jimmy Olsen's Blues by The Spin Doctors from a similar era.

8. Robyn Hitchcock - Superman

In which Robyn finds a crunchy little Superman in his cornflake box. Don't ask me, I just play them.

7. REM - Superman

Not an original REM song, this was originally recorded by The Clique back in 1969. Their version's pretty groovy too.

6. Cinerama - Superman

David Gedge has written songs about Superman, Spider-Man, The Hulk... even Dan Dare. And (going back to Superman), he even named one of his albums Bizarro. Good lad!

5. Frank Black - Man of Steel

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Super-Pixie!

From the soundtrack to... erm, the X-Files TV show.

See also Man of Steel by Meat Loaf, which is pretty cool too, considering it wasn't written by Jim Steinman.

See also The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts by Sufjan Stevens. Cheating much to squeeze all these in, Rol?   

4. The Kinks - (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman

The Kinks go disco... well, it was 1979.
Woke up this morning, started to sneeze
I had a cigarette and a cup of tea
I looked in the mirror what did I see
A nine stone weakling with knobbly knees
I did my knees bend press ups touch my toes
I had another sneeze and I blew my nose
I looked in the mirror at my pigeon chest
I had to put on my clothes because it made me depressed
Surely there must be a way
For me to change the shape I'm in
Dissatisfied is what I am
I want to be a better man
3. Gil Scott Heron - Ain't No Such Thing As Superman

Way cooler than any song about Superman ever deserves to be.

And if you think that's groovy: check out Superman Lover by Johnny Guitar Watson. Ain't that a bitch!

2. Donovan - Sunshine Superman

Might have been Number One, but lost points for also mentioning Green Lantern.

However rubbish you might think Superman is, Green Lantern is ten times rubbisher.

See also Superlungs, My Supergirl. Only in the 60s.

(And, if we're mentioning Kara Zor-El, we should spare a moment for You're Really Super, Supergirl by XTC. And if we're mentioning XTC, we should spare a moment for Braniac's Daughter by The Dukes of Stratosphere. Phew.)

1. The Flaming Lips - Waitin' For A Superman

The Flaming Lips' Superman song is actually better than their Spider-Man song which, frankly, is just perverse.
Tell everybody waiting for Superman
That they should try to hold on best they can
He hasn't dropped them, forgot them, or anything
It's just too heavy for Superman to lift

OK, so a certain amount of rule-breaking went into the compilation of this particular Top Twenty-some... but there's no denying, there were some super tunes.

Which one makes you want to leap tall buildings in a single bound?


  1. I've never cared for Superman...don't know why...but the music is terrific..wondering if I have a spare year to listen to all 566 on the Man of Steel website

    1. Well, if you do, let me know if you come across any interesting gems.

  2. My favourite Superman-related song lyrics are from Rapper's Delight by The Sugarhill Gang:

    I said by the way baby what's your name,
    said I go by the name of Lois Lane,
    and you could be my boyfiend you surely can,
    just let me quit my boyfriend called Superman,
    I said he's a fairy I do suppose,
    flyin through the air in pantyhose,
    he may be very sexy or even cute,
    but he looks like a sucker in a blue and red suit,
    I said you need a man who's got finesse,
    and his whole name across his chest,
    he may be able to fly all through the night,
    but can he rock a party 'til the early light,
    he cant satisfy you with his little worm,
    but I can bust you out with my super sperm

    1. Charming. I love Rapper's Delight, but I've obviously never listened to it in enough detail. Is that from the version they played on the radio?

    2. Probably not. I've got two different versions of it on a compilation album and it's in both versions but they are both over 7 minutes long. The radio version probably ends before it gets to that bit.

    3. The version I have from the Greatest Hits is 4 minutes so I'm presuming that's the radio edit, though I'm pretty sure I have heard a longer version, even if I didn't pay adequate attention to the lyrics.

  3. Bugger, you XTC'd me out before I could get there.

    1. I knew you'd be straight in there if I left them out.

  4. I love Barbara Streisand. Have since I was very young. Her Superman is a lovely song that I can belt out in a manner making truly unrecognisable!

    1. I have no issues with the fabulous Ms. S... though sadly her Superman wasn't one of the 41 BS songs in my library.


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