Everyone has a hero, super or otherwise.
When we're young, we look up the legendary comic book characters who always save the day. As we get older, that admiration shifts to loved ones who support us unconditionally.
These songs celebrate both the everyday and extraordinary superheroes we depend on.
Song Year: 1970
John Lennon's “Working Class Hero” is a scathing and controversial criticism of society's willingness to become a cog in the social-climbing machine.
The song paints a picture of all the harm trying to “keep up with the Joneses” does to our self-esteem and points out that most people will never move from working class to upper crust no matter how hard they try.
Instead of striving to make the most money or gain power, he insists that a true hero works hard to earn a comfortable living. Instead of seeking validation from the rich, they take pride in the role they play in their communities.
Song Year: 2018
Like many kids, Owl City lead singer Adam Young considers his dad more heroic than Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne could ever dream of being.
The touching tribute describes all of the ways Young's quiet father did to show his love without words, like building treehouses and playing handyman after work.
It's proof positive that you don't have to leap tall buildings in a single bound or serve vigilante justice after dark to be someone's hero.
Song Year: 1981
While the main subject of this song isn't a hero in the traditional sense of the word, it is a good reminder that sometimes just following through on your dreams is a superpower worth singing about.
It all starts one night when a young man misses out on tickets to a concert. Fortunately, the small-town bar walls are thin enough that he can still hear the sick licks and cheering crowd inside. This event inspires him to turn his grief into guitar riffs.
With the help of his thrift store axe, our Jukebox Hero begins the transition from a disappointed music fan to an absolute legend of the music scene.
Song Year: 2000
Sometimes, even Superman needs saving. Enter this heroic song.
It's hard to think of our fictional heroes as real people with weaknesses, but it also gives us hope that anyone is capable of greatness.
We get a glimpse into Superman's inner thoughts as he wonders whether anyone cares about the losses he has suffered or the dreams he has outside of being a hero.
Music lovers the world over sent Five for Fighting's second single skyrocketing up the charts in the fall of 2001 thanks to its poignant reminder that, despite our individual abilities, we all face hardships and need support from others.
Song Year: 1990
Randy Travis's popular country tune is a touching ode to the two things people can always depend on: their heroes and friends.
He croons about a childhood spent admiring cowboys and how he pictures himself riding along with those wild west rancheros with his buddies even as an adult.
It's a solid addition to any road trip playlist rotation.
Song Year: 2014
Pixar's Big Hero 6 tells the tale of a young boy whose biggest hero is his older brother. After tragedy strikes, the main character has to find the hero within himself with a bit of help from a loveable cast of characters.
“Immortals” capitalizes on FOB's classic pop-punk sound to share the message that no one can live forever, so it's our responsibility to continue the legacies of those who come before us.
It also implies that to be immortalized as a hero, you must also work to leave behind something for future generations to build upon.
Song Year: 2015
The ragtag subject of “Angels” is Chance the Rapper's reflection on his personal growth on the mean streets of Chicago.
He acknowledges the beauty of the city that he often fears and the need to invest in its future. Chance the Rapper sees the good of the hardworking residents who are just trying to survive, including his daughter.
These ideas are expressed quite literally in the music video. It follows around a clumsy, fallen guardian angel whose crash lands on top of a train as heralding trumpets and a heavenly choir sing in the background.
Song Year: 1969
The Green Goliath's life path didn't exactly go the way he planned, leaving Bruce Banner with gamma radiation and a lousy attitude.
Roy Head and the Traits immortalized a hilariously simplified tale of The Hulk's journey from a mild-mannered scientist into the most grossly underrated superhero on the Marvel roster.
Sure, he can be a little temperamental, but if Ant-Man deserves multiple movies, so does our favorite green-skinned good guy.
Song Year: 2016
Elisa's love song isn't about having incredible powers, like invincibility or super speed. In fact, it's quite the opposite. “No Hero” is about how she's willing to be her loved one's savior, despite being a regular, flawed human being without any special abilities.
Elisa's lyrics are full of love, offering an oath of protection even if it means giving up her own life in exchange.
Song Year: 1984
In this song, Bonnie Tyler is an absolute queen, demanding that men intent on wrongdoing have zero business bothering her with their antics.
Tyler's got some pretty high standards, including being skilled at riding horses that are on fire, having the strength of Hercules, and living on a mountain like the Greek gods of lore.
If anyone deserves a hero, it's this iconic songstress in all of her wind-whipped white dress glory. Bonnie is a classy lady who knows what she wants, and she won't settle for less than a hero.
Song Year: 2000
In the 83 years since Kal-El crash-landed on Earth, he hasn't changed much. Sure, there's the occasional gritty reboot or alternate universe one-shot, but overall, Superman is the same American symbol for truth and justice he's always been.
But what if Superman's fall from grace wasn't a temporary setback? Would the city of Metropolis stand behind him in his time of need?
This is the concept explored in “Kryptonite,” but on a less super scale. It's just a man asking for reassurance that the people he loves will remember all the good he has done if he ever loses his way.
Song Year: 1977
Bowie wrote “Heroes” to tell the story of two lovers separated by the Berlin Wall who met daily to kiss despite living in constant fear of the gunshots that rang out overhead.
It honors the courage it takes to steal small moments of happiness right out from under the noses of those in power, even when we know that there's nothing we can do to change the circumstances.
Bowie was inspired to write the song during his stay in Berlin, where he rented an apartment overlooking the infamous Wall.
Each morning, Ziggy Stardust would watch his producer meet with his East Berlin girlfriend, who he quickly embraced before sneaking away before guards could catch their brief moment of intimacy.
In 1987, Bowie performed “Heroes” during a concert broadcasted to East Berlin. This event is historically recognized as one of the catalysts that sparked young people tired of living under oppression to demand the “Fall of the Wall.”
Song Year: 2014
Sarah McLachlan is no stranger to creating gut-wrenching, tear-jerking songs, and this memorial to her father's love could even the stoniest hearted person get a little misty-eyed.
One of the most touching aspects of the song is the rawness you can feel in every lyric.
The songstress doesn't hide her grief behind humor or complicated metaphor but lays it all out for the world to see how deeply she misses the man who provided a haven from her troubles.
McLachlan never utters the word “hero,” but it's clear that's exactly what her father is to her.
Song Year: 1997
Perhaps the most well-known song about everyday heroes, this track by the Foo Fighters is a salute to the Average Joes out there making the world a better place in their own small ways.
The song touches on the fact that most heroes we look up to, both real and fictional, will never be able to change your life the way that someone who truly cares for you can.
While people are busy cheering on athletes and celebrities, they're missing out on the heroes who truly deserve our appreciation.
Song Year: 1981
Heroes are a catalyst of kindness, perseverance, and encouragement. Often, our aspirations to be like our heroes compels us to do things we usually wouldn't. They teach us the power of small acts of love.
But what if they weren't around to be the paradigms of goodness we look up to?
“A World Without Heroes” describes a meaningless, bleak existence without light, joy, or dreams.
It's scary to think about and indeed a great reminder to let your heroes know how thankful you are to have them around.
Song Year: 1970
Before the King of Pop moonwalked across the stage, he was the frontman in his family band, Jackson 5.
One of their most iconic pop songs is “I'll Be There,” a crooning promise to always be by his lady's side, cheering her on and supporting her dreams.
This ballad also marked a break from their typical pop sound and received critical acclaim. It stayed in the #1 position for five weeks on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and was the top-selling Motown single in the United States until 1981.
Song Year: 2003
Parenting can often feel like a thankless job, filled with sleepless nights and overwhelming responsibility.
McBride's touching lyrics share the love and admiration the country star has for her child.
She acknowledges a sentiment that mothers have in common: the love between a mother and daughter is a source of strength and courage.
Song Year: 1989
After Prince decided “Dance with the Devil” was too dark for the 1989 Batman film, this funky jam swooped in to save the day.
The music video for this heroic song is entertaining, with the High Priest of Pop playing both himself and the dual-personalities of superhero Gemini. Yes, it’s a a song about superheros.
His performance earned him nominations for Best R&B Music Video from the Soul Train Music Awards and Best Video from a Film from MTV's Video Music Awards.
Song Year: 1975
This silly little ditty finds the singer deep in conversation with Marvel villains Magneto, Titanium Man, and Crimson Dynamo.
They discuss a mysterious “babe” who will be involved in a bank robbery later that night, then hop in the car and head over to the bank to watch the events unfold.
Only after seeing the lady in question does the narrator think the woman must be a good guy if her appearance worked the comic book criminals into such a huff.
The song isn't particularly deep or meaningful, but it is an excellent example of how every hero is the villain in someone's story.
Song Year: 2015
This girl-power track celebrates the Wonder Woman in every lady, something that singer Jillian Hervey saw every day thanks to her glass ceiling-smashing mother, Vanessa Williams.
The entire album is all about empowerment and honoring the work that goes into just making it in a world that can be scary to face.
Song Year: 1980
No, Queen wasn't talking about DC's fastest man alive in their 1980 hit.
It was the theme song for Flash Gordon, a space opera about the titular character, a high school football star, saving the world from the evil antagonist.
Flash's hapless journey to heroism begins when Ming the Merciless, Emperor of the planet Mongo, decides to use natural disasters to destroy the Earth for his own entertainment.
Song Year: 1981
Like Queen's “Flash,” Joey Scarbury's chart-topping hit found fame as a theme song.
ABC's The Greatest American Hero was a comedic look into the life of Ralph Hinkley, a high school substitute teacher who stumbles upon aliens bearing power-bestowing super suits.
Hijinks and mishaps ensue as we follow Gordon's adventures, with Scarbury's “Greatest American Hero” welcoming viewers to join in the fun at the start of each episode.
Song Year: 2011
What might at first seem like a light-hearted song about all the fun Peter Parker has swinging around New York City has a more profound, much darker message.
The song references a little-known but canonically accurate one-shot comic that Marvel created in conjunction with the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse in 1984.
In it, Parker works up the courage to tell Aunt May and Uncle Ben about a traumatic event he suffered at the hands of an older boy.
The comic aimed to show children that they can still be heroes, even if something terrible happened in their past, and that it's important to tell an adult they trust if someone makes them feel unsafe.
During tough times, heroes act as a beacon of light to reset our paths and remind us that even those with impossible abilities face seemingly impossible hurdles.
Next time you feel like you can't carry on, try letting music be your motivation. These songs about superheroes can be a source of encouragement when everything's going your way or validation that your struggles do not define your potential.