Even famous rock stars can’t help but feel the pull of pop culture. Check out these songs below that reference, been inspired by or are straight up covers of geeky themes.
Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
I was sitting in the car a few days ago, listening to CHOM, and swore that I had heard Robert Plant sing the words ‘Mordor’ and ‘Gollum’. Low and behold, the Lord of the Rings and other writings by J. R. R. Tolkien were an inspirations for the track Ramble On. The song’s opening line (“Leaves are falling all around”) is a paraphrase from a Tolkien poem Namárië and the song references LOTR further on in the lyrics. Tolkien references can also be found in other Led Zeppelin songs like Misty Mountain Hop and The Battle for Evermore.
The Legend of Zelda – Joe Pleiman (and not System of a Down)
This adaptation of the classic theme song may sound like it’s sung by Serj Tankian but it’s not. Joe Pleiman released this track in 1998 on an album titled Rabbit Joint. It was uploaded to Napster under the name “SOAD – The Legend of Zelda”. Being the early 2000’s and the style of the vocals, people assumed it was by System of a Down.
In the Garage – Weezer
An anthem dedicated to geeky sanctuaries. This song was not only inspired by the garage in which Weezer rehearsed, Rivers also did most of his songwriting in there.
Paranoid Android – Radiohead
Thom York titled this song after the android Marvin, the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as a joke. The lyrics actually refer to York’s unpleasant experience in a Los Angeles bar.
Superman’s Song – Crash Test Dummies
A pretty melancholy song with a powerful message. Though a physically strong hero, Superman’s other strength was his character. The lyrics lament on how her could have left Earth to its own demise, but instead he protected it with all his power. A metaphor about society rather than just a story about a fictional super hero.
Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down
Despite the song’s title and the line “If I go crazy, will you still call me Superman?”, the references to the Man of Steel are actually a way to ask a bigger question. In an interview with Songfacts, the band’s frontman, Brad Arnold, tells how the song came to him during a math class and what it means:
“I think I was actually 15 when I wrote that song. And that’s like the third or fourth song I ever wrote, like, period. That skippy little drumbeat was just me beating on my desk. […] That song, seems like it’s really just kind of like asking a question. Its question is kind of a strange one. It’s not just asking, “If I fall down, will you be there for me?” Because it’s easy to be there for someone when they’re down. But it’s not always easy to be there for somebody when they’re doing good. [..] That’s the basic question that song’s asking, and maybe throughout the years of singing that song, I might have come up with more meanings for it than it actually might have originally had.”
Superman’s Dead – Our Lady Peace
Probably Our Lady Peace’s biggest song, Superman’s Dead was written as a commentary by Raine Maida on children’s television consumption in 1996. Raine states “I grew up with the old Superman, the black-and-white one. There was something so honest about it, and it’s evolved into Beavis and Butthead”
Flash – Queen
The theme song from the 1980 film Flash Gordon. The soundtrack to the full film was also written and performed entirely by the members of Queen.
Spiderman – Ramones
Look for this as a hidden track on the vinyl version of the 1995 album Adios Amigos! It also
appears in the tracklist of the game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.