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Its A Bird, Its A Plane…How Superman Helps Pop Songs Fly Up The Charts

Superman
  – Superman

Ever since Warner Bros’ Pictures released their Superman reboot Man Of Steel in June this past summer, the famous comic book character turned all around Pop culture icon has been in the mainstream spotlight for the first time in many years. That spotlight on the character got even brighter this fall when it was confirmed that Ben Affleck was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the 2015 Man Of Steel sequel. Buzz about the film continues even as  recent as last week when it was announced that Gal Gadot was recently cast in the film as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.

As director, Zack Snyder’s re-imagined version of the superhero follows Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed “Dark Knight Trilogy” about DC Comics’ Batman, conversations were sparked by many movie fans about if Superman’s “truth, justice and the American Way” style would be able to remain relevant to a modern viewing audience. This debate that highlights the clear differences between the two characters also reminds us all about how iconic Superman really is. As the very first superhero, the man of steel was not only a trailblazer for the comic book industry, but he led the way for a whole new style of fantasy and science fiction in pop culture in general.  For 75 years the red cape wearing hero has taken flight off the pages of comic books and newspapers to be the first of his kind to appear on radio, movie serials, live action and animated television, and blockbuster films. He paved the way for superheroes of all kinds, becoming the closest thing to the America’s answer to the tales of the champions in Greek mythology like Hercules. Therefore it makes perfect sense that various musicians would be inspired to take the idea of Superman and spin it off into song. He has become one of the most talked about heroes used in pop songs that he is not officially affiliated with, serving as a fitting tribute to the power he has had since his creation in 1933.  Through the years Superman has been the subject of all kinds of songs for all kinds of genres

Some of the most famous tunes about the character include The Clique’s “Superman” (1968) (Later covered by R.E.M. in 1986.) Maureem  McGovern’s “Can You Read My Mind” (1979) (The Love theme from Superman: The Movie from 1978) (Not officially included On John Williams’ 1978 Soundtrack, but was released after the film) Spin Doctors’ “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” (1991), 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite”, (2000) Five For Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” (2001). and Brian McKnight’s “Superhero.” (2001) For a a full list of all the songs that make reference the concept or idea of Superman click here!

The Clique’

“Superman” (1968)

ABC Paramount Records 

R.E.M. 
“Superman” (1986)
From Lifes Rich Pageant
I.R.S./Warner Bros. Records 
Maureem  McGovern
“Can You Read My Mind”  (1979)
From Maureem  McGovern
Curb Records 
Spin Doctors 
“Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” (1991)
From Pocket Full Of Kryptonite 
Epic Records 
Brian McKnight 
“Superhero” (2001)
From Superhero 
Motown Records
Out of all the songs that reference the man of steel,  the ones that have been the most successful seem to have come in the early 2000s. The first of these  came with the smash hit “Kryptonite” by Mississippi rockers 3 Doors Down in January of 2000. The song not only gave the band their debut breakout hit, but  it went on to become one of the biggest hits of that year. It charted on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, hitting number 1 for 9 weeks. Then it moved to the Modern Rock Tracks Chart, also hitting number 1 for an outstanding 11 weeks, being one of the longest-running songs on the chart. It also hit number 1 on the Pop Songs chart for 5 non-consecutive weeks, while also hitting number 4 on the Adult Top 40 chart. It is still without a doubt  the band’s most successful single to date, reaching number 3 overall on the Billboard Hot 100. The single itself went double platinum, and allowed the band’s debut album, The Better Life to go on to sell over six million copies.
3 Doors Down 
“Kryptonite”(2000)
From The Better Life 
Republic/Universal Records

The world must have really thought that Pop hits about Superman were a good idea, because the concept was taken beyond just references to the character only a year later. This was done when Five For Fighting explored the personal idenity of Superman in a deeper and very original way. That song, “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” took a daring look at Superman emotionally. The touching tune tried to lyrically describe what it might feel like to be an iconic figure with awesome abilities, that simultaneously make him a leader for, and exclude him from the community he loves. Suddenly the famous comic book story about a visitor from another planet with great power was brought down to Earth in a very relatable, human way.

Five For Fighting 

“Superman (It’s Not Easy)” (2001)

From America Town

Aware/Columbia Records 

It became a massive success for Five For Fighting, allowing him to finally breakthrough to the mainstream, as his major label debut, America Town reached platinum status. The single itself received high acclaim both critically and commercially. It made an impact on various song charts across the world, hitting number 1 on the Billboard Adult Pop songs chart, number 2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, and number 14 overall on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s popularity lead to it being honored with a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002.

It was also given a second life in 2006 on YouTube shortly before the release of Bryan Singer’s  film, Superman Returns. That film was the first of the Superman  franchise to be promoted with the aid of online viral marketing. As a result of YouTube being a new site at the time, and flooded with content from companies like Warner Bros. who produced the film, various fans captured footage from the trailers to create Superman themed music videos with the song. This idea was taken a step further this year with the release and promotion of Man Of Steel. The song also served as a worldwide launching pad that granted Five For Fighting the ability to continue to released various other platinum albums along with other notable hit singles like “100 Years”, “Slice,” and “The Riddle.” Five For Fighting continues to record today as a part of the Wind-Up Records, a label ran by Gregg Wattenberg, the man who produced “Superman (It’s Not Easy).”

Five For Fighting 

“Superman (Its Not Easy)”

Fan Made Video 

Now as 2013 gets ready to come to a close and the world is not only talking about Supernan VS Batman, but also a future Justice League film that is rumored to follow, It seems like perfect timing for yet another hit song about Superman! Well, it seems like American Idol contestant turned Pop superstar, Chris Daughtry was listening! He and his band, Daughtry just released their fourth album Baptized, and have done so using it’s first single “Waiting For Superman” to promote it. The Pop/Rock song describes a lonely unnamed  woman who is longing to be a “Lois Lane” in someone’s life, as she is “waiting for Superman to lift her up in his arms.” With over one million hits on YouTube and various Man Of Steel themed fan videos to go with it, the song is off to a great start. As it makes its way up the iTunes chart before even  hitting radio, the song shows great potential to have an impact on the Pop charts in 2014! Take a look at the video below and see how the music world is even looking to Clark Kent to show his “S” and lift them up the charts.

Daughtry 

“Waiting For Superman” (2013)

From Baptized

19/RCA Records

Daughtry 
“Waiting For Superman”
(Fan Video Featuring Clips Of “Man Of Steel”)

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