The list of songs about Superman is far into the hundreds, and there are plenty in there that you could name off the top of your head by REM, Sufjan Stevens, The Spin Doctors, The Flaming Lips, the Crash Test Dummies, Stereophonics, Stone Temple Pilots, Taylor Swift, older ones by the Kinks, Donovan and all the songs in the old stage production It’s a Bird It’s a Plane It’s Superman that you may have over-looked (listen to the original cast recording here or watch the 1975 TV production here if you’re curious).
When you search around online for songs about Superman, you pretty much get the same songs listed over and over again. This list is the opposite of that experience. Sixty songs represent the tip of the iceberg, the forgotten paeans to the Man of Tomorrow. And there are so many more songs about Superman than I list in this series, especially in the genres of hip hop and metal — I’ll leave those to some other obsessive with time on their hands.
For the next three weeks, I will offer 20 songs about Superman a week and I’ll follow that up with a list of songs about other members of the Superman Family. And then I will continue with even more superhero music, which should compile a pretty huge catalog of superhero songs for your next geek gathering.
404 Not Found – I Wanna Be a Superman
This cute power pop boy band from Indonesia sees being Superman as a remedy to all their romantic problems and they’ve poured that belief into this bouncy song. I don’t know if they still exist as a band, but their Facebook page proves that they once did.
Black Lace – Superman
The 1981 Italian novelty song “Gioca Jouer” by Claudio Cecchetto was reborn as this song in 1983 in England by Black Lace, an actual band that participated in Eurovision in 1979 and was known for novelty songs. Colin Gibb was the only consistent member over the years. Their biggest success was a song called “Agadoo.”, a cover of a French novelty song. There was also an x-rated version of “Superman” released several years later by Gibb, but I think one version, although clean, is probably enough. Stream it on Spotify.
Chet Bolins – Superman Love
The title track to this Philadelphia new wave lounge act’s rare 1981 album All American Masher is one of the most infectious and bizarre hidden gems of the era, but this deep cut from the album offers an organ pounding love fest to the Man of Steel. Bolins was a lounge lizard creation of Chris Darway, previously of the band The Critters, along with his wife Nanette Mancini, who is one of the vocalists on this track. They had recorded two albums before for RCA as Johnny’s Dance Band. When those didn’t go well, Chet Bolins was their solution.
Bruce Lee Band – Superman
This ska-punk song from 1995 from begs the Man of Steel to save the narrator from his own anxiety. If only they could bottle Superman and sell him in pharmacies! This was a project of Korean American musician Mike Park, best know for his role in the ska band Skankin’ Pickle and as founder of Asian Man Records. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Celi Bee and the Buzzy Bunch – Superman
Puerto Rico-born Celi Bee sings this disco ode to the love of her life, Superman. Supes is actually quite popular subject matter in disco songs from the 1970s, and this is certainly the kind of song you can imagine Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane getting down to it at Studio 54.
This song was written by husband and Buzzy Bunch bandmate Pepe Luis Soto and it reached #41 on the Billboard charts, tying with the Kinks’ Superman song. Herbie Mann later recorded a cover version. Bee eventually dispensed of Soto and the Buzzy Bunch and released her last album in 1986. If you can’t get enough of the Superman song, here’s Celi performing it on Miami television. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Chicago School of Rock – Superman (I Want To Fly Like)
Speaking of the Kinks’ Superman song, here it is covered with a lot of enthusiasm. Singer Eliza Lampert defines this song in a way that Ray Davies never did. With the rhythmic assault on drum and bass, and the audacious choice of uke in the mix, this classic has just been made more magical. A triumph of SuperMusic! You can visit the school’s Facebook page for more info about it.
Cinerama – Superman
Cinerama is a late ‘90s band headed up by once and future Wedding Present singer David Gedge that offered lush, orchestral pop songs. This song presents the lament of a man in a dying relationship who feels he’s been misrepresented by his partner in their struggles with each other and sees Superman as the only thing that can possibly save their relationship since he sees himself as incapable of handling that challenge. Gedge’s girlfriend was his bandmate — you can hear her voice in the vocals here — but the band dissolved when their relationship did. I imagine she’s reasonably fond of a song that unfavorably compares her ex to Superman.” Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
The Clique – I Am Superman
REM had a hit with this song in 1986 and I had no idea it was actually a cover version of this 1969 song. It’s a tale of Superman as an obsessive stalker who misuses his powers to harass a woman not to spurn him. The Clique was from Houston, Texas, and among their achievements is an appearance on The Dating Game. The REM version doesn’t veer too far from the original. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Commodores – Superman
The final track of the 1974 debut album of the funk legends, this song gets obscured by hits like “Machine Gun” and “I Feel Sanctified.” The most surprising thing about it is that this is a Lionel Ritchie song, so if you just equate him with cheesy ballads, prepare yourself. Are you sitting? Good. Though once the music starts, you’ll want to stand up.” Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Angie Davies – Superman
This 1993 Italian disco song by what appears to be one of many pseudonyms the company used for singles released by women singers. This particular song makes history for being the only one I’ve encountered that promises Superman the time of his life at a party in Chinatown.
Dino, Desi, and Billy – Superman
Back in the 1960s, Dean Martin’s son, Lucille Ball’s son, and some kid they knew formed this little pop band and signed to Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. This is a pretty straightforward, groovy, Monkees-style ode to the Last Son of Krypton, but bonus points for starting off with a joke about The Byrds.”
Doc and Prohibition – Superman
This 1972 single is a bit of a mystery, but it does contain the lyric “Superman turn around, your cape’s on fire.” There’s also a Portuguese-language cover version from 1973 by Brazilian band The Fevers and a different English language version from 1972 by another Brazilian band Excelsior. I can’t tell you who Doc and Prohibition were, but I can tell you that their version of “Superman” appeared on a 1972 music compilation from, you guessed it, Brazil, and that one of the song’s writers, Michaël Haubrich, was in a band with Vangelis and has a Soundcloud page. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Dr. Dragon – Superman, He’s A Macho
“He’s a grand muscle man” coos the chorus of this Italian disco number, which also contains a few instances of “Uh, huh” for good measure, in this 1979 release from Japanese disco masters Dr. Dragon, a.k.a. Dr. Dragon & The Oriental Express, under the leadership of Jack ”Dr. Dragon” Diamond. The Doctor released plenty of other slices of disco magic, for instance, 1976’s “Sexy Bus Stop,” which, along with several other songs, you can listen to in this YouTube channel. (And this is as good a place as any to mention a song that did not make the final cut because it was sung in its native language, however, the 1979 Italian disco song “Superman Supergalattico” by Milli Mou is certainly worth a listen.) Stream it on Spotify
The Electric Illuminati – Sin City Superman
This band lurks around the Brooklyn/Jersey City vicinity and lists Daniel Johnston as one of their favorites, which got me thinking about how surprised I am that there doesn’t seem to be a Daniel Johnston song about Superman. There is this super-catchy song, however, with lyrics by artist Ron English. Bonus points for name-dropping Bruce Wayne. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Donna Fargo – Superman
Outside of country circles, Donna Fargo doesn’t get much credit in the same way someone like Loretta Lynn does, but she’s one of the groovier country stars from the ‘70s. Fargo didn’t write this, rather it was penned by an Italian songwriting team, but it rates high for the lyric “I wouldn’t if I could for all the bull in Spain.” Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Firewater – So Long Superman
Firewater is basically a guy named Todd A., who used to front the band Cop Shoot Cop but left that to pursue a more multi-faceted musical effort in 1995. Firewater folds in all kinds of styles, including klezmer and other Eastern European sounds, plus ska and, like this song, ‘60s infused rock. This song is a kiss-off to the narrator’s old buddy Superman, with some pointed advice and justification for his parting included. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Gemiinii Riisiing – O Superman
Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” was an unlikely pop hit, peaking at #2 on the British charts in 1981. And while you might dispute whether it’s actually about the Man of Steel, I’d argue that I see no compelling evidence that it isn’t, and that’s good enough for me. This lovely 2014 cover by Gemiinii Riisiing transforms Anderson’s synth-driven telephone throb beat into a piano progression. For further exploration, check out British eccentric Frank Sidebottom‘s “Super Mum” which he recorded after failing to secure the rights to actually cover “O Superman.” Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Joe Giacoio – Superman’s Midlife Crisis
This easy-going acoustic 1997 release from the New Jersey singer-songwriter presents a Superman we can all identify with us, at least we old guys can. In this rendering, Superman uses his frequent-flier miles and doesn’t quite flirt with young girls, but does still make an effort to save them from danger because it makes him feel young. He also has regrets. Why did he give it all up? Bonus points for revealing the fate of Spider-Man and Batman. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Glitterbox – Superman
This ‘90s Brit band gains a lot of confidence with women by evoking Superman, or at least their leader singer Jonny Green does. This has got the ‘90s indie guitar strum/drone with Pixies-like screeching as the chorus kicks in, nice enough though derivative in a way so much ‘90s music could often be.
Stomp Gordon – Ride Superman Ride
Gordon starts this out with a call and response based on the “is it a bird? is it a plane?” that segues swingingly into an awesome jazz-tinged r&b basher about Mr. Superman that poses a few scenarios and reveals Batman stealing Superman’s girlfriend is not a good look for the Caped Crusader. This 1956 release was a B-side for the single “Oh Tell Me Why,” though sadly would be dead two years later, his body found slumped over the wheel of his car, suddenly succumbing to liver ailments and pneumonia at age 31. He was known for sometimes playing the piano with his foot and had a pretty promising career before he died. Gordon’s music displayed a great sense of humor and that’s on display with these two other awesome songs he recorded, “Dragnet” and “What’s Her Whimsey, Dr. Kinsey.”
John Seven is a journalist and children’s book writer living in North Adams, Massachusetts. His books include ‘A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide To Anarchy,’ ‘Happy Punks 1-2-3,’ ‘Frankie Liked To Sing,’ and others. Find out about all his things at johnseven.me.