With Great Power
Prominent Legion World figure Lightning Lad recently acquired this very valuable artifact (which you can check out for yourself here), and made it available to me, for which I am quite grateful as this is exactly the kind of thing I like. LL also dropped a couple of broad hints about maybe I could review the song here.
And I thought, aw, man.
Because I'm a little weird that way. I want to put the stuff on Legion Abstract that I want to put on Legion Abstract, and not anything else. I don't often participate in the memes that so many other members of the comics blogohedron have fun with, for instance. I just want to stick to my own ideas. Not that I was offended by the suggestion, or anything; I just didn't want to do it. But when someone does something nice for you, it makes you a bit of a nosebleed to blow off what is a very reasonable request.
I still don't want to post an entry that's exclusively a review of an old obscure song, but I do want to do this:
I used to be a member of a mixclub. That's where you get somebody's name and address e-mailed to you every month, and you burn a CD of whatever unholy combination of songs your twisted mind can conceive, and mail it to that person. Meanwhile, somebody else is sending you such a CD. And one time a guy sent me what he called The Comic Book Mix. And it was great. It was all songs and things that related to comic books, and not only superhero comic books. And now that I know there's stuff like that out there...
(Before I get to the main part of this post, I'd like to point out a couple of great places to go to get your superhero-flavoured music. Comic Book Resources has a page full of superhero TV themes. And then of course there's this, which is just completely awesome.)
With Great Power: The Superhero Mix I’ve Never Made
1. Justice League opening theme - Michael Kohler (1:00) One of the great superhero themes. In the Justice League Unlimited DVD commentary, the show's creators talked about how the fans hated the new JLU theme music. Well, I didn't hate it; it's just that I liked the original so much. (Although the JLU opening sequence had a couple of great images: the one shot of dozens of superheroes silhouetted against the horizon, and the final image of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the foreground while all the other Leaguers fly through the sky behind them.)
2. Spider-Man theme (1:03) The original, that is. The more readily available version is the one by the Ramones, but I'm not nuts about that one. I like Michael Buble's cover, but he makes one mistake at the end: he leaves out the 'life is a great big bang-up' lines, which you'd think would be a natural for a guy like Buble.
3. Superheroes – Esthero (4:02) I admit I can’t figure out what it has to do with superheroes. (Even after checking the lyrics. She’s got superhero sheets on her bed, maybe? But so what?) It’s nice and slinky, though.
4. The Wedding of Bouncing Boy – Yoyodyne (4:10) First time I listened to this I thought it was only okay. But I tried it a couple more times and it really did grow on me. The singer could put his shoulder into the lyrics a little more, especially on the chorus, but on the other hand, he keeps the words understandable, which is a plus. The music reminds me a little of Counting Crows at the beginning, but that’s okay, and it gets catchier from there.
5. Four-Color Love Story - Metasciences (2:03) My attention was first drawn to this song by this Valentine's Day blog post, which, if it doesn't make you mist up a bit, you must have a heart of inertron. The song itself is a little understated for its subject matter, but what happens a lot with your serious-geek-content kinds of songs is that the music itself can underwhelm. There'll be a few songs like that on this mix.
6. Arthur Curry - Ookla the Mok (4:10) Like this one, for instance.
7. Superman: The Animated Series theme (1:00)
8. Underdog theme - Butthole Surfers (3:55) Underdog is a bizarrely enduring character. His TV show was silly and formulaic, but his balloon was part of that parade for how many years? Maybe it's because of the theme song, which is actually kind of menacing for an old kids cartoon.
9. Peter Stays and Spider-Man Goes - Hero (3:18) It seems Marvel put out an album in the ‘70s, with a cycle of songs about Spider-Man. I wonder what was going on with that.
10. I Whupped Batman's Ass - Wesley Willis (3:27) It's hard to explain if you're not familiar with Wesley Willis.
11. (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman - Kinks (3:36) See, we need some songs on here that actually sound good because they’re actually good songs.
12. Maybe Dat's Your Pwoblem Too - James W. Hall (3:36) This little artifact is a poem about Spider-Man, written and performed by mystery writer James W. Hall on… the radio? On a podcast? Whatever it was on, the host breaks in after it’s over with an admirable display of his co-worker’s geekery, which only makes the whole thing better.
13. Teen Titans theme - Puffy Amiyumi (3:09)
14. Not Since Superman Died - Ass Ponys (2:39) I don’t really know anything about this band or what they were up to with this song, but a) the song itself is catchy, b) it’s about Superman all the more precisely because Superman doesn’t appear in it, and c) its sordidness expertly suggests just how admirable Superman is.
15. Waitin' For a Superman - Flaming Lips (4:17)
16. You and Me to the Rescue - Backyardigans (1:50) The target audience for the Backyardigans is somewhat different from the target audience of superhero comics, so I will take a second to explain. The Backyardigans is a computer-animated show for preschoolers, featuring the adventures of five cartoon-animal little kids playing in their backyards: Pablo the penguin, Tyrone the moose, Uniqua who is unique, Tasha the hippo and Austin the kangaroo. Each episode has three to five of these characters entering an imaginary world based on some classic kind of adventure story, and each episode has a bunch of musical sequences of a genre of music picked to complement or contrast with the adventure du jour. It's gentle enough for little kids, witty enough for grownups, and the music is great. Anyway, one of the episodes was a superhero adventure set to salsa music, and this song is from there. It's from a part in the story where the two superheroes (Uniqua, as Weather Woman, and Austin, as Captain Hammer) are in a tight spot, and they sing, "Is there any way to get there / Our chances might be zero / But I will not give up / 'Cause I'm a superhero". I can't sum up the important stuff any more concisely than that.
17. Mystery Men Oath - Mystery Men O.S.T. (0:42)
18. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends theme (0:56) This is one of those theme songs where you listen to it and you say, "You know what? That was actually pretty good."
19. That's Really Super, Supergirl - XTC (3:21) See comment for ‘(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman’.
20. X-Men animated series theme (0:58) See comment for 'Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends theme'.
21. Wonder Woman theme (1:28) You can hear a lot of what was good about 1970s music in this song.
22. Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes theme (about 1:00, I guess) How long, I wonder, before I can somehow get this on CD? It’s pretty snappy.
23. Matter-Eater Lad – Guided By Voices (1:11) I was looking forward to hearing this one. Unfortunately it kind of sucks. Oh well.
24. You've Got Possibilities - Linda Lavin (2:40) This song is from It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman, a musical. Apparently the musical itself wasn’t that great, but this song is real neat. It’s sung by a woman, apparently not Lois Lane, who I think is trying to give Clark Kent a makeover. Which means that the real entertainment value of the song comes from dramatic irony. But that’s cool too.
25. Superman's Song - Crash Test Dummies (4:38) I was amazed to learn, once, that the Dummies were considered a one-hit wonder in the States, and that 'Superman's Song' was known as the B-side of 'Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm'. In Canada, they had a huge hit with 'Superman's Song' in about '91, and they had a few other hits after that. Have you ever seen the video for this song? These guys get superheroes.
26. Superman: The Movie theme - John Williams (4:31) I can sit there and play it over, and over, and over, and over... And every time I do, it's like I'm hearing it for the first time.
Total running time: 78:40