Bam! Grrr! Kapow!
We all love a superhero who arrives in the nick of time and saves the day.
Of course, there are plenty of real-life heroes too. For example, the doctors, nurses, and firefighters who risk their lives to keep us safe.
So here’s our pick of the best songs about heroes and superheroes.
Table of Contents
- ‘Hero’ by Weezer
- ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie
- ‘My Hero’ by Foo Fighters
- ‘Working Class Hero’ by John Lennon & Plastic Ono Band
- ‘No More Heroes’ by The Stranglers
- ‘Waitin’ for a Superman’ by The Flaming Lips
- ‘Nobody Loves The Hulk’ by Roy Head & The Traits
- ‘Heroes and Villains’ by The Beach Boys
- ‘Celluloid Heroes’ by The Kinks
- ‘Hero’ by David Crosby
- ‘Magneto and Titanium Man’ by Paul McCartney and Wings
- ‘Batdance’ by Prince
- ‘Flash’ by Queen
- ‘Superman’ by Eminem
- ‘Batman and Robin’ by Snoop Dogg feat. Lady of Rage and RBX
- ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ by Tina Turner
- ‘Holding Out For a Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler
- ‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey
- ‘My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys’ by Willie Nelson
- ‘Something Just Like This’ by The Chainsmokers ft. Coldplay
- ‘Jimmy Olsen’s Blues’ by Spin Doctors
- ‘Superhero’ by Jane’s Addiction
‘Hero’ by Weezer
From the brilliant Weezer’s fifteenth studio album, Van Weezer, ‘Hero’ was described by Rolling Stone as an ‘outcast anthem.’ That sums it up pretty well.
This ‘anti-hero song’ deals with frontman Rivers Cuomo’s feelings of inadequacy.
“When I was a kid, I thought I’d save the world / Running ’round and chasing all the criminals / Swinging on a web, flying in the sky / Shooting lasers from my eyes.”
“But now I know it never was my destiny / It’s not my place in life, not who I’m meant to be / And I don’t need the glory, I don’t need the fame / And I don’t wanna wear this cape.”
‘Heroes’ by David Bowie
This track tells the story of a couple who are so desperate to be together that they meet every day under a Berlin Wall gun turret (the Wall here is symbolic of separation).
In a Performing Songwriter interview, Bowie disclosed that the song was inspired by an affair between his producer Tony Visconti (who was married at the time) and backing vocalist Antonia Maass. They would kiss “by the wall” in front of Bowie as he gazed out the Hansa Studio window.
Bowie made versions in German and French as well, which helped popularise the song.
‘My Hero’ by Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl has no time for hero-worship, especially when it comes to celebrities. This song celebrates the common man – the ‘everyday hero’ and all those unsung heroes.
The brilliant video depicts a young guy saving several items from his burning home while the band performs inside. The guy’s face is never seen, implying that heroes are ordinary people (true heroes).
‘Working Class Hero’ by John Lennon & Plastic Ono Band
Lennons’ ‘Working Class Hero’ was controversial for the liberal using of ‘the f-word.’
In this autobiographical song, Lennon here is ‘the working class hero.’ He grew up in a poor, post-war area of Liverpool and ‘made it.’ He joined ‘the folks on the hill.’
He has a scathing contempt for the system and authority in general. His deeply felt animosity is palpable: “When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years / Then they expect you to pick a career.”
He said in a 1971 Rolling Stone interview: “I think it’s for the people like me who are working-class – whatever, upper or lower – who are supposed to be processed into the middle classes, through the machinery, that’s all.”
‘No More Heroes’ by The Stranglers
Ever feel like all the good guys have left the building?
Well, The Stranglers do. Here, they lament all their heroes (who are mainly historical figures).
From communist leader Leon Trotsky, comedian Lenny Bruce, art forger Elmyr de Hory, William Shakespeare, to the fictional character Sancho Panza (from Cervantes Don Quixote).
‘Waitin’ for a Superman’ by The Flaming Lips
Superheroes are supposed to get there in the nick of time. They’re people you can trust.
Here we find the enigmatic frontman of the Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne, waiting and frustrated for his hero to arrive.
The caped crusader doesn’t show up, though, as ‘the weight’ is just too heavy for him to lift (we also include this brilliant song in our list of songs about waiting).
‘Nobody Loves The Hulk’ by Roy Head & The Traits
‘Nobody Loves The Hulk’ is a superb garage/psych comic-book novelty record from 1969. As the name suggests, it’s about the mean, green fighting machine, aka The Incredible Hulk.
The lyrics tell the story of Bruce Banner: “Poor Bruce Banner / Was working at his Laboratory / When he saw Rick Jones / About to go in a blaze of glory.”
The line “We don’t allow no green skin people here!” is a nod to the racial segregation still prevalent in the late ’60s at the time of recording.
Avid readers of comic books will know and love the song, as it was popularised and sold exclusively through adverts in the back of Marvel comic books (it sold surprisingly well!).
‘Heroes and Villains’ by The Beach Boys
When the brains behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, was going through a nervous breakdown, he referred to the voices in his head as the ‘heroes and villains.’
Written by Brian Wilson and lyricist Van Dyke Parks. The lyrics were inspired by California’s early history, including references to the Spanish and American Indians.
The song has countless takes and retakes; Wilson discarded most of what he heard.
‘Celluloid Heroes’ by The Kinks
The second single from their album Everybody’s in Show-Biz.
Ray Davies, lead vocalist, and principal songwriter was inspired to write the song after a visit to Los Angeles (he stayed in a hotel along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was captivated by it).
‘Hero’ by David Crosby
Phil Collins was everywhere in the ’80s. In this collaboration with David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, he co-wrote, produced, and helped with the instrumentation (backing vocals, drums, keyboards).
In the video, we see Crosby playing a guy in prison. We see his family come to see him and a disgruntled son throwing stones down a railroad track. It’s a song about families, and to an extent, loss.
‘Magneto and Titanium Man’ by Paul McCartney and Wings
From Paul McCartney & Wings’ Venus and Mars album, we see McCartney’s appreciation for Marvel comics in this superhero song.
He mentions three supervillains: Magneto (the X-Men’s arch-nemesis), The Crimson Dynamo, and Titanium Man (Iron Man’s archenemies).
Was McCartney writing about the Beatles’ breakup, and is ‘Babe’ a reference to Yoko Ono? “Well, There She Were And To My Despair / She’s A Five-Star Criminal / Breaking The Code.”
‘Batdance’ by Prince
The late, great ‘Purple One’ aka Prince, was asked to contribute songs for Tim Burton’s brilliant Batman movie.
He contributed a few, including ‘The Future’ and ‘Vicki Waiting.’
‘Batdance’ did particularly well and was his first US #1 hit since ‘Kiss’ in early 1986. But, ironically, it never made it into the final cut of the movie!
‘Flash’ by Queen
Do heroes wear capes? No, not when you’re Flash Gordon.
This was the theme tune for the 1980 comic-book smash-hit movie Flash Gordon, sung as a duet between Freddie Mercury and Brian May.
The song is interwoven with spoken snippets from the movie, including a classic line from the brilliant Brian Blessed “Gordon’s alive!”.
‘Superman’ by Eminem
Appearing on Eminem’s fourth studio album, The Eminem Show, in ‘Superman,’ Marshall Mathers raps about how he hates female fans (‘groupies’) who want to get with him for the fame.
This song started a feud between Eminem and Mariah Carey with the line “What you tryin’ to be, my new wife? / What you Mariah? Fly through twice.”
Carey got her own back in her song ‘Clown,’ where she portrayed him as a sad, insecure guy.
‘Batman and Robin’ by Snoop Dogg feat. Lady of Rage and RBX
From Snoops’ 2003 album Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Bo$$, ‘Batman and Robin’ features some dope samples from the Batman Theme.
‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ by Tina Turner
Now for one of the best songs about heroes (or at least one of the most famous).
‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ was the theme song to the post-apocalyptic cult movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
Tina Turner stars in the movie as the nefarious leader, Aunty Entity. “Aunty Entity was not as fierce as I wanted her to be,” she told Q magazine in 1988.
‘Holding Out For a Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler
One of the most popular hero songs is ‘Holding Out for a Hero,’ used in the 1984 film Footloose.
The song appears when a young Kevin Bacon is playing chicken on tractors with a local, becoming a ‘hero’ when he wins.
‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey
Released as the second single from Carey’s third studio album, Music Box, ‘Hero’ is one of her favorite songs to perform.
The lyrics are about looking inside yourself and being your own hero. Finding the inner strength to be yourself and your own role model.
Related: check out our list of songs about fighting and personal resilience.
‘My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys’ by Willie Nelson
Written by Sharon Vaughn, who was “just told to go home and write a cowboy song.” Seventeen minutes later, she had the song, which helped to usher in country’s ‘outlaw movement.’
The song was initially recorded by country music star Waylon Jennings on his 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws. However, Jennings’ recording was not commercially successful. It was then popularized in 1980 by Willie Nelson.
The narrator reminisced about childhood when he dreamed of becoming a cowboy and then contrasts that with the stark reality he faces when he actually becomes one.
‘Something Just Like This’ by The Chainsmokers ft. Coldplay
This anthemic, dancefloor-ready tune is a collaboration between the Chainsmokers duo and the British indie-turned-mainstream band Coldplay.
A lot of love songs are about finding the ideal person. In this song, Chris Martin flips that around and says he isn’t seeking perfection.
“I’m not looking for somebody / With some superhuman gifts / Some superhero / Some fairytale bliss.”
‘Jimmy Olsen’s Blues’ by Spin Doctors
In a great twist on the superhero song, here’s a song about one of the supporting characters in the Superman comic books.
If you’re a fan of Superman comic books, you’ll know Jimmy Olsen is a young photographer. In this song, he feels overshadowed by his co-workers, Clark Kent and Lois Lane (understandable!).
‘Superhero’ by Jane’s Addiction
‘Superhero’ is a song about falling for a girl: “You were smiling by my table / Had to call up everyone that day.”
You want to be her own personal ‘superhero,’ “even if I tumble fall.”
More songs about heroes (in case you needed more):
- ‘Hero’ by Chad Kroeger feat. Josey Scott
- ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ by Bette Midler
- ‘One Call Away’ by Charlie Puth
- ‘Somebody’s Hero’ by Jamie O’Neal
- Greatest American Hero’ by Joey Scarbury
- ‘Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Owl City
- ‘Superman’s Song’ by Crash Test Dummies
- ‘Heroes and Friends’ by Randy Travis
- ‘Kryptonite’ by 3 Doors Down
- ‘Jesus Walks’ by Kanye West
- ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias
- ‘Everyday Superhero’ by Smash Mouth
- ‘The World Needs a Hero’ by Megadeth
- ‘Wonder Woman’ by Lion Babe
- ‘Spidey’s Curse’ by Black Lips