Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. They may not wear capes and shoot laser beams out of their eyes, but your heroes will show up when you need them to and save the day.
Firefighters, doctors, nurses, the armed forces, your parents, friends, and family, and even your beloved doggo—heroes are all around you, including within you. Our singers and songwriters knew this for a fact, explaining the tons of beautiful, uplifting, hero-themed anthems we’ve been gifted through the ages.
Whether you want to appreciate the heroes in your life or bring out the hero lying inside you, few things can work as well as these songs do, so here are some of the best songs about heroes for every kind of hero!
Best Hero Songs About Heroism And Courage
Whether I’m sweating it out at the gym, want to dedicate a powerful ballad to someone I love and look up to, or simply need some inspiration, here are some of my top hero-themed anthems to vibe to.
1. Not All Heroes Wear Capes – Owl City
A rather sweet ode to the superhero that exists inside each dad, “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” was a Father’s Day gift from the project’s founder and constant member Adam Young, telling his father how much he loves him and appreciates him turning into Superman every time the singer’s world needed saving.
Dads may not be able to levitate, fight crime, read minds, or wear capes, but they’re real-life heroes, with hot rods and hearts of gold.
2. Working Class Hero – Green Day
Originally a John Lennon song, “Working Class Hero” made waves when it was first released in 1969 for its liberal use of profanity.
The autobiographical song, chosen for its rawness and themes of social status, class, and alienation, was covered by the American rock band (and heartthrobs of the 90s!) Green Day in 2007 for Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur to bring attention to the conflicts tearing Sudan apart.
3. Everyday Superhero – Smash Mouth
Known for their killer covers and flamboyant pop rock-power pop style, Smash Mouth released very few originals, one particularly successful one being “Everyday Superhero”.
90s kids may remember this song playing in the background as Vin Diesel aces babysitting in The Pacifier, or as the theme song for the popular sitcom The King of Queens’ advertising campaign.
The song, released as a part of the band’s sixth studio album, is the perfect reminder that not every superhero is caped—we’re all average, everyday superheroes and that’s perfectly fine.
4. Heroes – David Bowie
David Bowie’s sonorous baritone sings of desperate, go-to-any-lengths love in “Heroes”, inspired by the sight of his producer and the latter’s lover locked in an embrace by the Berlin Wall, as the singer gazed out of his studio window (among other inspiring factors).
The song shows two lovers who see each other at any cost, including meeting every day under a gun turret at the Wall (symbolic of separation).
The song’s French and German versions were just as wildly successful as the English one, with the latter gaining even more traction after being featured in hit coming-of-age drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
5. My Hero – Foo Fighters
Another song that celebrates everyday real-life unsung heroes, “My Hero” is also liberally laced with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s resentment for hero worship, especially of celebrities (many thought the song was about Kurt Cobain, forcing Grohl to clarify that it wasn’t!).
The beautifully shot video shows the band performing in a burning house, while an anonymous youth goes about saving several of the belongings inside. The youth’s face is never shown, further reinforcing that heroes can spring forth from ordinary people.
6. Wonder Woman – Lion Babe
Popping with a nice 70’s retro vibe and shining the spotlight on female strength, “Wonder Woman”, named after one of the most popular superheroes, climbed the charts pretty easily, helped by its vibrant video where Jillian Hervey owns and shows off her femininity and its strength.
“Wonder Woman” is a beautifully uplifting superhero song, with timeless lyrics that talk about empowering women and how taking women for granted can be quite folly.
7. We Don’t Need Another Hero – Tina Turner
Probably one of the best songs about heroes out there, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” is a Tina Turner masterpiece, used as the theme song for the cult classic Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (in which Turner also starred).
The song is one of the few that explores the downsides of being seen/being a superhero, with lyrics that take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride.
One of Turner’s biggest hits (it hit the second spot on the US Billboard Hot 100), the fabulous video also received a “Best Female Video” nomination at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, while the song itself earned Golden Globe and Grammy nominations.
8. Superman’s Song – Crash Test Dummies
As implied by the name, this is a superhero song, but not just any run-of-the-mill superhero song—it carries a strong political message, portraying an unlikely Tarzan as a reclusive, community-and-politics-rejecting figure and Superman as a left-wing-supporting politician.
The song was Crash Test Dummies’ first major hit, climbing to the 56th spot on the US charts and claiming the fourth spot on the Canadian charts. The video is also quite cool, depicting the band playing at Superman’s funeral, where several other heroes and superheroes are also in attendance.
9. Hero – Mariah Carey
Despite the mixed reviews that it received upon its release and the fact that Carey initially handed the song over to Gloria Estefan since it didn’t match her style, “Hero” topped the charts in several countries and is deemed by many as the Songbird Supreme’s signature song.
If you ever need to remind yourself that you’re a hero, this song is it. Named by the singer herself as her favorite song to perform, “Hero” motivates you to look within yourself and find the inner strength that lets you be unapologetically you, even and especially when you’re down. Do this, and you won’t need any role model other than yourself.
10. Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Tyler
Though this isn’t a song that’ll have the feminists jumping for joy, “Holding Out for a Hero” is a catchy tune that’s among the most popular songs about heroes.
From Hercules to Superman to knights on white steeds to good men and gods, Bonnie Tyler’s holding out for a hero who’s strong, fast, fresh from the fight, and larger than life in this hit song (fair demands, all).
“Holding Out for a Hero” was popularized when it was featured in acclaimed movies such as Footloose, Shrek 2, and Who’s Harry Crumb.
11. Hero – Enrique Iglesias
The stuff of many dreams, Spanish singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias melted hearts with “Hero”, a beautiful ballad, inspired by the singer’s cheesy high school days, that talks about kissing away his lover’s pain (oh, to be her).
Iglesias makes the promise that he’ll always be there for his lady love in what is one of the best and most heart-wrenching love songs about heroes in the last two decades—the fact that it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 15 consecutive weeks is a testament to the song’s popularity.
12. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
Bette Midler’s hit single was inspired by the title of a poem that the song’s writer Larry Henley had written for his ex-wife. Several artists recorded the song before Midler did, but hers is deemed one of the most popular and successful versions, recorded for Beaches, a 1988 film starring Barbara Hershey and Midler.
A tribute to the heroes that support and inspire you, Midler’s version won her acclaim for turning the ballad into a powerful pop song while retaining its sentimentality.
13. Jimmy Olsen’s Blues – Spin Doctors
This song is a personal favorite and one of the rare ones that hero a supporting character. “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” lets photographer Jimmy Olsen take centerstage instead of the usual Clark Kent and Lois Lane show that we’re treated to all the time.
The song, from Jimmy Olsen’s perspective, talks about his depression at being overshadowed by his two popular colleagues and was inspired by the then-19-year-old Chris Barron’s tryst with a lady resembling Lois Lane and how he felt like Jimmy Olsen, instead of Superman, around her.
14. Waitin’ For A Superman – The Flaming Lips
If you ask me, this 1999 hit single from The Flaming Lips is easily one of the best songs about heroes out there, showing you the ugly truth that sometimes, even heroes and superheroes can’t create miracles.
Wayne Coyne’s frustration at his hero not arriving and “the weight” is too heavy for him alone to bear is evident in the song’s powerful lyrics, penned on the demise of the former’s father.
If anything, this devastatingly sad, emotional song goes to show that you can’t simply sit around waiting for a superhero to save you—sometimes, you’ve got to get through it on your own (yep, I bawl my eyes out every time, too).
15. Nobody Loves the Hulk – Roy Head & the Traits
The Incredible Hulk may be a lean, green fighting machine, but that probably wouldn’t have mattered in the 60s, when this song was recorded and segregation was still appallingly rampant.
The song tells Bruce Banner’s story and how despite his intellect and strength, the only thing that’s in focus is that he’s green skinned. The song was advertised exclusively through Marvel’s comics at one point, earning it quite a bit of popularity.
16. One Call Away – Charlie Puth
Remember how Superman never shows up in Wayne Coyne’s ballad? Charlie Puth takes it one step further with this song, telling a loved one that he’s an even better superhero than the Man of Steel himself, simply because he will always show up when they need him—it takes only one call.
According to the popular singer, “One Call Away” is also a song to send to someone you love dearly and haven’t seen in a very long time.
17. Flash – Queen
If it was possible, Queen’s tracks would play on repeat on heavenly speakers as I go through daily life—the band’s songs are worshipped (in a good way) by folks around the world, and “Flash” is no exception.
This Queen hit, recorded by Freddie Mercury and Brian May, was the first rock ‘n’ roll track to grace a non-music film, and talks about a non-caped hero, Flash Gordon, who saves everyone, regardless of race and gender (probably in a nod to Mercury’s queerness and the stigma against it at the time).
18. Magneto And Titanium Man – Paul McCartney And Wings
You may not think it when someone talks about Paul McCartney, but turns out that the legend is quite a Marvel fan, as evidenced by this composition!
A hit from the band’s Venus and Mars album, the song is one of the best songs about heroes and captures Magneto’s, Crimson Dynamo’s, and Titanium Man’s superhuman capabilities.
Some fans also believe that the song references The Beatles’ breakup and John Lennon’s girlfriend Yoko Ono as the cause.
19. Heroes And Friends – Randy Travis
The message is simple with this song and really hits home—only friends, heroes, and superheroes last a lifetime.
A hero is any friend who holds a mirror up for you, reflecting your good (and bad) onto you so that you can take pride in the former and change the latter. Friends are crucial support systems and this 1991 hit single makes sure that you know this!
20. Spidey’s Curse – Black Lips
This rather dark and sad song talks about a troubling past for our friendly neighborhood superhero and its impacts on his present. It also presents the idea that maybe Peter Parker didn’t want to be bitten by a spider in the first place, because of which his spidey senses are a bane rather than boons.
Why is this one of the best songs about heroes out there? Because it shows you that heroes and superheroes are also real people with their own demons (not the physical kind) to battle, just like you and I.
21. Hero – Jessie J
Not much is known about the history and background of this empowerment anthem, but its lyrics make it pretty clear that Jessie J is going to be her version of a hero—risky, fearless, taking care of her business, and the life and soul of the party.
The song featured in the soundtrack for the superhero black comedy Kick Ass 2, and though the movie might not have done so well commercially, the song definitely did.
22. Celluloid Heroes – The Kinks
A visit to Los Angeles and a stay at a hotel along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame inspired lead vocalist Ray Davies to write “Celluloid Heroes”, a tribute to 20th-century Hollywood greats such as Rudolph Valentino, Mickey Rooney, Bela Lugosi, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, George Sanders, and Marilyn Monroe.
Though the brothers didn’t get along too well (The Kinks was formed by warring brothers Ray and Dave Davies), they obviously agreed on which heroes are worth writing a song for!
More Songs About Heroes
|24.||My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys||Willie Nelson|
|25.||Heroes And Villains||Beach Boys|
|26.||Hero||Chad Kroeger feat. Josey Scott|
|27.||Hero||David Crosby & Phil Collins|
|28.||Turn To You (Mother’s Day Dedication)||Justin Bieber|
|30.||Batman & Robin||Snoop Dogg|
|31.||Superman (It’s Not Easy)||Five For Fighting|
|32.||Believe It Or Not||Joey Scarbury|
|34.||Kryptonite||3 Doors Down|
|36.||Billy Don’t Be A Hero||Paper Lace|
|39.||Something Just Like This||The Chainsmokers feat. Coldplay|
|40.||Waiting For Superman||Daughtry|
|42.||I Would Die 4U||Prince And The Revolution|
|45.||Heroes (We Could Be)||Alesso feat. Tove Lo|