Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Favourite Superhero Songs

This is a summer of big super hero movies. Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America and more are coming to save the day. It had me thinking. Super heroes are well represented in the media now, but are they being left out of the music industry? Is this the last form of entertainment that we can't get a cape on?

Of course there are the TV show themes like Spider-man's which have been covered by musicians as diverse as The Ramones and Michael Bublé but I'm thinking outside of that box. Well, as soon as I pondered this, I started to remember lots of songs that are inspired by our tights wearing friends.

As a result, I now present to you my list of 5 great super hero related songs.

1) R.E.M. - "Superman"

Despite it's tendency to sound a bit like a psycho stalker's anthem, this is a great song about being a jealous mess. It's not really about Superman but more about a guy claiming that he can be like Superman. But with less saving-the-day and more using super vision to spy on you.

As I've stated before, I'm a massive R.E.M. fan and I get a huge kick out of the rare songs sung by Mike Mills, the bassist. Unfortunately, rumour has it the band secretly hate this song now and refuse to play it live. This rumour is backed up by the fact that I haven't heard them play it at any gigs I've been to. But at some point it was in their set list, proven by the live recording of the song in the video below.



2) Prince - "Partyman"

I understand that Partyman isn't a super hero in any comic. His powers may be limited to "rocking the party" so he is probably terrible at fighting crime (unless the crime is a bad time) but his song is from one of the few good scenes in Tim Burton's Batman film. When Jack Nicholson's Joker breaks into an art gallery and starts trashing the place, he does so to this Prince funkalicious song.

Most people would quote "Batdance" as the big song from that movie but "Batdance" is an absolute mess of a tune. It's 6 minutes of odd samples, noises and one golden moment of Prince shouting "get the funk up" but that's about it. I think "Partyman" is much better in comparison although it doesn't have the sweet half-Batman/half-Joker costume in the video.



3) OK Go - "Invincible"

No, it's not about Robert Kirkman's super hero of the same name but you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a good fit. This rocking tune is the biggest flat-out ode to a super hero I can think of. The lyrics are delicious and have lots of fun comic cliches, "so please use your powers for good" being my favourite.

Taken from the album Oh No, "Invincible" is the opening track to one of my favourite LPs. The video is a bit of a bruiser too as the band take the opportunity to blow up a bunch of household items all for the sake of rock and roll. I can't argue with the logic.



4) Spin Doctor's - "Jimmy Olsen's Blues"

There is a 90s part of my soul that will never go away. And the Spin Doctor's are a quintessential 90s band. They wrote this little number back in 1993 and it tells the tale of a Jimmy Olsen/Clark Kent/Lois Lane love triangle. I'm not sure if one ever existed in the comics but it's a fun idea nonetheless.

The cool thing is, not only is there a song written from Jimmy Olsen's point of view but the album was named after one of the lines from the song which is "I've got a pocket full of Kryptonite". Geeks were representing even back in the 90s, folks.



5) Tenacious D - "Wonderboy"

Tenacious D were a rare commodity of a comedy band that truly rocked your socks off. "Wonderboy" is a tale of dragons and mind bullets (that's telekinesis, reader). It's a fantastic song and it makes me want to follow more adventures of Wonderboy and young Nastyman.

This video however has double the awesome because in this live recording the D mixes "Wonderboy" with "Flash", the Queen theme tune for the Flash Gordon film. Twice the heroics, twice the amazingness (real word). Beware of the dragon.