Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Supermonth: The 5 Worst Superman-Related Songs

Superman's got a long history of inspiring music. Sadly, not much of it is any good. It tends to waffle between "songs that name-drop Superman stuff for no apparent reason" and "songs that are about Superman, but terrible." There's an awful lot of them (pun intended), but for my money, these are the absolute worst:

Dishonorable Mention: This one.

5. "Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five for Fighting: I wanted to like this song, I really did. It's not even particularly bad; it's just not Superman. It gets a lot of the broad strokes right, referencing the costume, the powers, the backstory, even the catchphrases. But it's just so morose. This is a depressed, lonely Superman, feeling like an outcast without a home, set apart by his powers. In other words, it's perfect for Smallville; the tone of the song and the tone of the show (Clark in particular) are a fantastic match. But for mainstream Superman, this just sounds so far off the mark.

4. "Superman's Song" by Crash Test Dummies:

I wanted to like this song, too. The first time I heard of it was in the "Newstime" special edition magazine that was released around the time of Superman's death. The lead singer of the Crash Test Dummies was interviewed in the in-universe magazine, and talked a bit about the song, specifically how Solomon Grundy was chosen as the villain because his last name rhymed with "money." That kind of sets the stage for the rest of the song, in which Superman is contrasted with Tarzan, admired for having a straight job, and eulogized in droning monotone. I'm pretty sure that Brad Roberts' voice is about an octave above the brown note, and listening to this song may interfere with your brainwave patterns. In 1993, this would have been at the top of the list. Sadly, fifteen years on, it's not even a contender for first.

3. "Superman" by Eminem (Not Safe For Work Anyone): Basically, Mr. Mathers heard "Rapper's Delight" at some point and thought "hey, the verse where Big Bank Hank is hitting on Lois Lane and bragging about his super sperm is really cool, I bet I could make a whole song about that!" And so he did. Bonus points for blatant misogyny, using the word "unfurled" outside of the "Pinky and the Brain" theme song, and sounding almost exactly like Jamie Kennedy's "Circle Circle Dot Dot."

2. "Kryptonite" by Three Doors Down: I'll be honest here, I hate this song with a passion. Part of it is that it has absolutely nothing to do with Superman--words like "Superman" and "Kryptonite" are dropped in as near-non sequiturs. Part of it is that it's just freaking stupid. It's the kind of unlistenable, wannabe-Nickelback/Creed/Puddle of Mudd/Pearl Jam quasi-grunge garbage that has masqueraded as "rock" for years now. And it was a hit, playing on every damn radio station with an "alternative" or "modern" bent in heavy rotation. It was hard enough to be a Superman fan in the early 2000s, what with "Our Worlds at War" and Joe Casey and whatnot. "Kryptonite" made it downright painful. One of the great redeeming qualities of "Superman (It's Not Easy)" is the line "I'm not crazy, or anything," a bit of a take that at this dreck.

1. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy:

To be fair, this song is in the running for "worst song ever," not just the worst one involving Superman. It's repetitive, it's nonsensical, it's about ill-defined dance moves, and it references Robocop and Super-Soakers. If it weren't so over-the-top in its awfulness, it might be awesome. Instead, it seems that the experimental attempt to use "Superman" as a verb is a musical failure.


Will Staples said...

I can't stand that song by Five for Fighting, just because it's so poorly-written. I mean: "I'm more than a bird, I'm more than a plane, I'm more than some pretty face inside a train." It's so... awkward.

Tom Foss said...

There's a few bits I like. "I'm only a man" is apt, if obvious; "Even heroes have the right to dream" reminds me a bit of the first "Astro City" Samaritan story; and I like "men weren't meant to ride with clouds between their knees," despite it being a bit clunky.

But yeah, overall it's really stilted; it clearly thinks it's more deep and clever than it actually is.

Jason said...

I hate that Kryptonite song so much. The worst part about it was that it was so popular for so long that whenever someone I had recently met found out I liked comics, they would inevitably say, "Hey, do you like that Kryptonite song?" No I don't, because being a comics fan does not immediately negate my taste in music.

Bill S. said...

Yes, these do indeed blow. But then you have R.E.M.'s cover of "Superman" from Life's Rich Pageant, and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman", which also manages to name check Green Lantern. Well, I like those songs, at any rate.

Newcleus' "Jam On It" is awesome, too, although the Superman only occupies one verse. Early rap songs seemed inordinately concerned with besting Superman in a rapping contest, and winning the right to make it with poor Lois. I can still quote it at length -- Superman's "speakers were two stories high, with woofers made of steel," an image I always thought was fantastic.

Anthony Strand said...

Those are all very bad. I used to like that Five for Fighting song when it was came out and I was like 13. But then I realized that it was, as you say, mopey and depressing and not at all about Superman. That "You can all sleep sound tonight/I'm not crazy . . . or anything" line is just weird.

And yeah, I too really hate the Three Doors Down song with a passion. It's just a terrible song, but as for the Superman-related content, for some reason the writer seems to think Kryponite is the source of Superman's powers. Or something.