Yes, yes, yes, we all know about the Spin Doctors song “Jimmy Olsen Blues.” You can’t exactly miss it. But we’re here to look beyond that. There are other songs about the Superman Family out there and many of them have escaped the attention of widespread ears.
The most popular member of the Superman Family to write a song about is, no surprise, Lois Lane, with Supergirl coming in second, and these are no surprise to me. Both characters are more fun than Superman any day of the week and I think that’s a lot of the reason they endure. But that also makes it more surprising to me that neither character was embraced at all by the world of disco, which was so fixated on the Man of Steel himself. Lois and Kara seem to bring out earnestness, whereas Superman just brings out the boogie, I guess.
The Action Figures – Lois Lane
This Chicago power pop band uses the time-honored lyrical refrain “I can be your Superman, You’ll be my Lois Lane!” as a promise made to a girl he’s trying to win over during a disastrous love triangle or quadrangle or something. Superman and Lois have become the go-to role models for perfect coupledom, and yet it took them at least 50 years to officially become something remotely resembling a couple, so I don’t know if that’s such a great thing. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Adam West The Bat – Supergirl (Kryptonite)
Brand new, this year, by this band with a slightly confusing name for those of us who don’t think quick (no, Adam West is not in the band nor is this the punk band named Adam West), Adam West The Bat sings plenty of songs about superheroes and they are enthusiastic cosplayers who dress up for their performances. You will hear more from them in these superhero lists, have no worries. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Bean – Lois Lane
Granted, this catchy love song does some name dropping beyond the Superman Family – Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Aquaman — but the official lyric video for the song uses ample Superman imagery, including Superman holding Richard Pryor in his arms and NOT Lois, and it is very clearly about having a romance with Superman from Lois’ point of view, even though it rhapsodizes about how they can be like Superman and Lois Lane, and I think I am going to try and not overthink it and just let it be. If you like this, here’s Bean with an acoustic version of the song. Buy it here.
The Bears – Superboy
I don’t know that calling him “Little Superboy” is very respectful, but I guess when you’re Adrian Belew, you can do whatever, and aside from that, this is pretty encouraging of Superboy to go do his Superboy thing. Of course, Belew is best known for his King Crimson work, but he also killed it on Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swingin’” and repeated that energy on Joan Armatrading’s “I Love It When You Call Me Names,” one of my favorite songs from the 1980s. The Bears is kind of a nice thing. After King Crimson broke up, Belew teamed up with a bunch of old buddies to make happy, poppy music in the late ’80s. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Graham Bonney – Hey Supergirl
This is a pretty groovy song and I have to confess that prior to compiling this list, I had never heard it and was completely unfamiliar with Bonney, but I’m glad I know it. Urging Supergirl out for a night of fun away from her “fine feathered friends,” this song captures the idea that Supergirl has always been DC’s most fun, potentially cool and playful female character, not that super-serious Wonder Woman. It captures the mood of Supergirl when she’s done right. Confession: I’ve always preferred Supergirl to Superman. Bonney is also well-known for his ‘70s hit “Brandy,” another paean to a groovy lady, and one that was all over the radio when I was a kid.
Class Three Overbite – Lex Luthor
Everyone’s always going on about “I’ll be your Superman” or whatever, but right here “I’m your Lex Luthor” beats any of those. Now that’s ambition! This is a ‘70s-inflected banger from 2008 by a band that claims Paul Stanley front and center in their influences, so obviously this is a pretty good one to start your Superman Family party with. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
D.O.A. – Phantom Zone
The Canadian punk band takes the time to chronicle the gloom and distress of being sentenced to the Phantom Zone with all the other Kryptonian criminals. This is from 1992 during a reunion where it seemed that a couple of original members had apparently been lost in the Phantom Zone themselves. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Dukes of the Stratosphear – Brainiac’s Daughter
To the best of my knowledge, Brainiac had no daughter, but that didn’t stop Andy Partridge and the boys from XTC from having a little fun with the idea while in their psychedelic pop disguise of the Dukes of the Stratosphear. Partridge liked DC Comics and would pepper his songs with mentions of them. This song, for instance, mentions Kandor and the Daily Planet. Partridge will pop up later on this same list, but in the meantime, feel free to also enjoy his wacky demo for this song and this cute cover version by Christo and the Electric Spectacles. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Ian Dury – Suepermans Big Sister
Brainiac has no daughter, there is no Madame Superman, and so on. Ian Dury begged to differ, though, that Superman had a sister and lays out his argument in favor of the idea. Well, there is some x-ray vision involved. This is a great disco-infused pub rocker (complete with strings!) from 1980 in which Dury purposefully misspelled Superman with the extra e in order to avoid a legal problem with DC. The song was Dury’s response to charges of misogyny in regard to his earlier song “If I Was With A Woman.” Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Élisabeth – Madame Superman
Obviously there is no Madame Superman in the comics, but there should be one prominently featured as a member of the Superman Family. If this song wasn’t so great, it would still be worth it for the video from 1968 that for some reason features a lot of Batman animation and French comics pages despite this being a Superman-related song. As near as I can tell, Élisabeth only released one EP called Je Suis Sublime and the song of the same name is pretty great too. Buy it here.
I did find an English translation of the lyrics, which were written by H. Deberne, and I feel like these deserve to be reproduced in total for you:
“I’m in love with a comic
Where I met a handsome masked man
It’s a superman, a bat man
And when I talk to him, this is what he says:
Tell me you love me: Blue! Scraow!
You are my hero: Slurp! Plotch!
Tell me you love me: Zboing! Grrrrrr!
It’s you the most beautiful: Blllrrrrrrrrrr!
He visits me almost every night
With his red cloak and his black mask
When I say “I love you”, the words he answers
Fly away from his mouth like soap bubbles:
Tell me that you love me: Blue! Scraow!
C ‘Slurp! Plotch!
Tell me you love me: Zboing! Grrrrrr!
You are my hero: Bllllam!
I took him to visit daddy
To ask him when he will marry me
He arrived from the garden wall
This is what he said to ask my hand:
Is it you Superman? Ya, scraow!
Do you like my daughter? Slurp, plotch!
What is your social rank? Zboing! Grrrrrr!
What does your family do? Blllrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Since that day he is my darling
Mrs. Superman it’s a pretty name
When I’m in his arms in my turn it’s me
This tell him I love you by talking like this:
Tell me you love me: Sluv, flatch!
My little lady: Zboring, brmf!
Tell me you love me: Blum, scruntch
Madame Superman: Vloumf!
Louw, sluv, scracth, zboing, zbwerml …
Helen Love – Superboy, Supergirl
Helen Love’s claim to fame was her status as the Worlds #1 Ramones Fan, and so she formed a band named after herself to write and record songs about Joey Ramone, among other obsessions. The Welsh singer managed to capture Joey’s attention before his death and was asked to sing on his song “Mr. Punchy” from his solo record along with Captain Sensible. This song is typical of Love, a kind of jingly synth punk pop ditty that talks about Superboy and Supergirl both preparing and going out for a night of fun, which they both really do deserve. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Farrah – Lois Lane
Yet another song with the “I’ll be… you’ll be” promise regarding Supes and Lois, this Brit band references kryptonite and Superman reversing the spin of the world in its explanation of why the dichotomy works with the pairing of the two people in this song. The most compelling argument, though, is that they would “be the fantastic two,” which is obviously an entirely different song that could have been written about ditching Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm.
Nina Hagen – Superboy
As a relic of the punk and new wave era, I don’t think Hagen has much of a presence for younger generations who might veer in that direction, and she can honestly be a task to enjoy, or at the very least, an acquired taste. Hagen is a child opera prodigy from East Germany who crossed over to the west when her stepfather, politically radical singer Wolf Biermann, was refused re-entry after performing in a concert in West Germany. Hagen became part of the punk scenes in Poland and Germany, and her lyrics often mocked communism. She developed an outrageous public persona that was constantly challenging mores and has been largely ripped-off when it comes to retrospectives about pioneering women in punk. The English translation to the German lyrics here indicates some slavish awe toward the Superboy in the title, who will, among other things, empty out your fridge, all in typical Hagen style — tongue in cheek and mocking the idea of fawning over men. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Killing Heidi – Superman, Supergirl
This 2000 single by an Australian band with an unfortunate name that we at the Beat cannot possibly get behind has the strange distinction of being its worst-selling single. Stream it on Spotify.
Lunatic Age – Jimmy Olsen
Jimmy Olsen wants his moment in the spotlight and this French band is willing to argue his case, complete with a singer who sounds more than a little bit like Peter Murphy. Is the band chanting “You can put on his tights” at the end of the song? Why, yes, I believe they are. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Math and Physics Club – Superboy and Supergirl
This is a cover of the song by power pop twee band Tullycraft by the lovely Seattle-based twee band Math and Physics Club, so one adorable song, two adorable interpretations. The song is very concerned with how these two Super Kids are coping and offering a nice pat on the back in the hope it perks them up. What a sweet song! Stream it on Spotify.
Mutant Daisies – Lois Lane
Newburgh, NY psych-rockers offer this slow-but-heavy dance floor opportunity in honor of the world’s greatest reporter. Employing a slow ‘50s vibe but filtering it through psychedelics and heavy guitars, this should help anyone woo their personal Lois Lane. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Anna Naklab – Supergirl
Anna Naklab is a German pop singer and this is a 2015 cover of a song released in 2000 by Reamonn, a German band fronted by an Irish singer with a noticeable Bono thing going on. I prefer this bouncier, catchier version by Naklab, which also has the bonus of feeling less condescending since it’s about understanding the vulnerability contained within and the pressure of keeping it hidden if you are either a girl of steel or the Girl of Steel. This was also covered in 2017 by Max Oazo ft. CAMI. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Ookla the Mok – Bizarro World
Embracing the designation “filk band” — after all, they are named after a character from Thundarr the Barbarian — Ookla the Mok has lots of superhero songs, probably more than I could ever include in a survey like this. In their song “Bizarro World” we meet the Bizarro versions of the actual band members, who spend a lot of their time trying to figure out exactly how you’re supposed to express yourself if you are a Bizarro. You will also enjoy their 30-second tribute to Mr Mxyzptlk. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Andy Partridge – That’s Really Super Supergirl
This XTC song is well-known enough that it pops up on plenty of these online superhero song lists — and it really is one of the best superhero-related songs out there — but I thought it would be nice to share songwriter Andy Partridge’s demo of the song. There are some lyrical differences here that add some interest. Partridge is truly one of the most difficult musical gems to come along in the late 70s. He keeps a low profile these days, but I highly recommend the recent documentary about XTC.
Edy Richman – Lois Lane’s Lament
Lois Lane’s relationship with Superman provides a cautionary tale in this likable 2004 song by Florida-based singer/songwriter Richman. Richman seems to have recorded two albums and disappeared. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Rouge Pompier – Lana Lang
As with Jerry Lewis, I guess it takes the French to truly appreciate Lana Lang. As best as I can decipher from the English translation I was able to get, this song is about an old love, a chance to reconnect, and using a villain as a scapegoat for romantic failure. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Stereo Total – Supergirl
Apparently, this is not a cover of the Graham Bonney Supergirl, just a song that sounds a lot like it and that is fine with me. Play them back to back and amp up your glee. Stereo Total is the French/German duo of Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring, and these folks are full of quirky energy that churns out some infectious, insane music that I can’t recommend enough diving into. The lyrics are an analysis of Supergirl’s preoccupation with the brand names of fashion — Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, Wonderbra, Armani, and plenty of others get name-checked. Don’t worry about it, just dance. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight
There is not much that I can add to the wealth of insight that has been offered on this legendary song from 1979 over the years, but thanks to one section of it, I think it safely qualifies as a Superman Family song. At about the six-minute mark, Big Bank Hank charms Lois Lane and she promises to go break up with Superman in favor of Hank. That’s not the only reason to love this song, but it’s a little bonus that makes it better. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Uncle Bonsai – Lois Lane
The Seattle folk trio offers this rundown of what Lois didn’t know and what she could’ve done if she in fact did know what she didn’t know, at least some of which is rather naughty. Uncle Bonsai seems to have mined that kind of territory often enough, and many of their songs fall into the novelty realm. No surprise, they have been in frequent rotation on Dr. Demento. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Lois Lane was officially “Superman’s Girlfriend” by 1958, so I think “it took them at least 50 years to officially become something remotely resembling a couple” is a bit of an overstatement.
odd to include Ookla the Mok and not mention Suprema Lex, which is one of their best and focuses on Luthor. Kate Miller-Heidke, one of the highlights of this year’s Eurovision, has a song called “Supergirl”, but its relevance is a bit murky.
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