I’m kind of crazy excited about Man of Steel. This looks to be a reboot worth the trouble. To get myself in the mood, I put together a Superman playlist on my iPhone. Originally, I wanted to limit myself to songs that were literally about Superman or characters in the Superman universe, but there are so many that use him for simple imagery that I loosened up the restriction. So, with only a couple of weeks or so to go, here’s what I’m listening to to get myself revved up.
Prelude and Main Title March — John Williams was already on everyone’s radar for the music he wrote for Jaws and Star Wars (and Gilligan’s Island!), but what he did for Superman was a somewhat different animal. It was big and bold, but also innately American. (In fact, if you take a listen to Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 1, you’ll hear some of what must have inspired Williams.)
Jimmy Olsen’s Blues — A hilarious take on the story by Spin Doctors. Jimmy has a crush on Lois Lane, and resents Superman so much, he has a “pocketful of kryptonite” to deal with him.
Superman — This is the song by R.E.M., a straight-ahead love song. “If you go a million miles away I’ll track you down, girl.” Okay, maybe a slightly stalky love song.
Superman — What’s a comic book themed playlist without a Korean hip-hop song? Super Junior looks like Seoul’s version of N’Sync. For what it’s worth.
Superman (It’s Not Easy) — One of the big hits that has to be on the list. Five For Fighting’s song is a somewhat hopeful, somewhat melancholy take on what it must be like to be Superman.
Superman — Instantly recognizeable to any fan of the TV show Scrubs, this song by Lazlo Bane is really about living a eminently normal life, because “I know I’m no Superman”.
Superman Lover — Johnny “Guitar” Watson has put together a tongue-in-cheek R&B track that uses the cliches of Superman’s existence to overhype his way with the ladies, while at the same time complaining about his inability to handle this one woman.
Kryptonite — The other chart-topper that couldn’t realistically be left off the list is this song by 3 Doors Down. It’s uncertain whether he’s singing as Superman, or co-opting the imagery. Still, a fun song.
Lois Lane — The only comedic song on the list, this track by Uncle Bonsai relies on funny wordplay. “He always scooped up the story in super disguise. She always looked so surprised.” But the point, that Lois is needlessly focused on Superman while Kent is right there is a subtle dig at romantic dreaminess.
Resignation Superman — This song about Superman giving up is a cynical take on the myth by Big Head Todd & The Monsters.
Waitin’ for a Superman — The Flaming Lips have their own cynical song about Superman, but in this one, the problem isn’t that Superman has given up, but that “he hasn’t dropped them, forgot them, or anything. It’s just too heavy for Superman to lift.”
Lex Luthor — “Rock the world like my name is Lex Luthor” I love that lyric, and this dance piece by Electrofreq is fun in a retro-80’s sort of way.
Superman’s Song — The most contemplative song on the list is Crash Test Dummies’s meditation on the selflessness of Superman. “Hey, Bob. Supe had a straight job. He could have smashed into any bank in the United States. He had the strength but he would not.” That’s true heroism.