The 10 Superhero Pop Songs the World Can Live Without


?By Rich Shivener

To be a pop or rock star, you can’t be a nerd — that’s the rule. Or at least you have to hide it pretty damn well until you’re famous, and then you can try to work in your love of Justice Society into MTV interviews (although they’ll almost certainly edit that part out). The point is, that’s why there are so few songs by pop and rock groups about superheroes — although if you think about it, there should still be less, because they’re almost all terrible. You’re thinking “Kryptonite” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” — understandable. They’re easy targets. But it’s time for a list of other superhero songs that should die — and that list doesn’t have to be Superman heavy. The Flash, Wolvie, Supergirl and, of course, Batman are among the mountain of mainstream superheroes subjected to bland songwriting. Here’s hoping this assault on 10 songs will inspire more with substance.

10) “Basket Case” – Danger Doom

This strung-out hip hop ditty strips away the comic relief of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. Paired with sample sensei Danger Mouse, MF Doom casts a thick shadow on the Adult Swim hit with rhymes like “I accidentally split some kerosene/And dozed off with the L lit, doped up on thorazine.” Thankfully, the other tracks on The Mouse and the Mask save the day.

9) “Wolverine Blues” – Entombed

Beavis and Butthead purists should remember the vid — this deep-throat metal-fest reeks of Rollins Band, and it became a superhero song when Marvel Comics shacked up with Earache Records. They slapped Wolverine on the eponymous album’s alternate cover, fueling the hype machine by including a small comic with the CD.

8) “The Ballad of Barry Allen” – Jim’s Big Ego

Picture The Postal Service taking a bite out of Cake and puking out this sour electronica song. It’s The Flash whining about this cruel, sluggish world, and the story collapses when the superhero (or Jim’s Big Ego singer Jim Infantino, that is) bemoans his accident. “Time keeps draggin’ on” for four minutes. However, the track might be fitting for The Flash: Rebirth #1, given how depressing Allen is in the series.

7) “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” – The Kinks

Brit pop-rockers The Kinks fared well with “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” and “Johnny Thunder,” but this 1979 salute to Captain America sounds suspiciously like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in the chorus, one exhaustively repeated (for sponsorship purposes?). The song could end after the first bridge, but The Kinks decided two identical saxophone solos would make it a win. Hardly an Axis-smashing move.

6) “Detective 27” – GZR

While Batman’s first appearance gets a headbang from Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler’s metal project, the song flirts dangerously with Stone Temple Pilots and Godsmack rip-off-edness. The machine gun rhythm section stomps the cheeseball lyrics, which are words in serious need of a back-breaking Knightfall.

5) “Arthur Curry” – Ookla the Mok

Ookla the Mok name checks the Justice League, but presents Aquaman as a DC afterthought, a self-deprecating seahorse rider ready to drown the Caped Crusader. And while the filk-rock band works in the 1960s Batman theme, it falls flat during the disco bridge, in which it drools over Wonder Woman. These guys did much better with “Stop Talking about Comic Books or I’ll Kill You.”

4) “I Wupped Batman’s Ass” – Wesley Willis

“Batman beat the hell out of me and knocked me to the floor/I got back up and knocked him to the floor/He was being such a jackoff.” Such wisdom from such a prolific singer-songwriter. It sounds like Mr. Willis took a dump on your mom’s “Hotel California” ringtone.

3) “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” – Five for Fighting

A would-be teenage heart-melting pop song, “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” doesn’t belong anywhere but perhaps a Broadway musical called “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Crybaby.” Five for Fighting tries to bring out the emotional side of Supes, painting the Man of Steel as a teary-eyed sap who can’t stand to fly. “I’m only a man in a silly red sheet/Digging for Kryptonite on this one-way street” It would not surprise us to find out that Lex Luthor was behind this song’s outrageously wide radio play, if not its entire existence.

2) “Hero” – The Guy from Nickelback

Chad Kroeger’s radio-ready anthem fails to add any insight into Spider-Man, about whom he should have written. Is there some web-headed inspiration behind it? Meh. A big pile of cash? Oh yeah. The Guy from Nickelback is a master of simple-stupid rock, as the general lyrics here indicate. Remember, this is the corporate shell that wrote “Rockstar.”

1) “That’s Really Super, Supergirl” – XTC

XTC took cues from Talking Heads, and failed miserably in the process. Fitting for your mall’s Musak compilation, this watery knock-off makes the title music of Super Mario Kart sound like Michael Jackson at his peak. Indeed, it might be higher on this list if Andy Partridge didn’t sing the choruses with a fatuous mouthpiece. So, yes, Supergirl should sweep this track “like dirt underneath your cape.”