Comic books and pop music go hand in hand: both are about mass-producing as much material as possible, often littering the world with forgettable pieces of art. As it so happens, sometimes the two fuse together and create funky hybrids: songs about superheroes. Today, I’d like to look back on two of them: “Waiting For Superman” by The Flaming Lips and “Kryptonite” by Three Doors Down.
Waiting for Superman
Waiting for Superman is a song that’s excellent in its own right. That it references The Man of Steel is an added bonus. This is the song that first made me a fan of The Flaming Lips. Since then, I’ve seen them in concert, watched a documentary about them titled The Fearless Freaks, and tried sitting through their ill-advised attempt at movie-making, Christmas on Mars. With Waiting for Superman, we hear The Flaming Lips at their best. Instead of the kitschy goofiness of songs like “She Don’t Use Jelly” or “Yoshima Battles Pink Robots,” frontman Wayne Coyne delivers us some beautiful lyrics about trying to find happiness in a difficult world, waiting, perhaps in vain, for someone like Superman to come and save us. The song reminds us in a painful way that the real world lacks Superman, but also suggests we have to save ourselves.
Kryptonite isn’t so much a “one-hit-wonder” as it is a “I-wonder-why-that-was-a-hit?”. Maybe some of my readers are too young to know of this song. Consider yourself lucky. In the 90s, when this song dropped, it played absolutely everywhere. You couldn’t go anywhere and not hear it. It seems like it was the most overplayed song since Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart,” and was equally awful. Think of how you can’t turn on the TV or step into a store without hearing LMFAO’s obnoxiously insipid “Party Rock Anthem” and now imagine, in its place, you hear Three Doors Down Kryptonite. If you can imagine that, you can accurately envision what the 90s were liked. Kryptonite came out during America’s regrettable power rock phase, when Pearl Jam inspired dozens of misogynist jocks to start bands, thus giving the world Creed, Lifehouse and Three Doors Down. All I can say is, if you’re going to make horrible music, please don’t drag Superman’s good name down in the mud with you.
The Victor: Waiting For Superman
Waiting for Superman is a smart, heartfelt ballad with a great hook, a catchy piano chord progression, and a pretty sweet bass-line. Kryptonite features a whole lot of nothing, like the lackluster film Superman Returns. Sadly, Kryptonite was the superhero song the whole world heard, while Waiting for Superman was the song the world needed to hear.