Break out your cape and cowl and get ready to do the Batusi — it’s Batman Day, as declared by the fine folks at DC and Warner Bros., so we’re back with another Smash Pages playlist featuring songs about the Dark Knight, his partners and even his villains.
So maybe skip going to the movies with your parents today and instead stay in and jam to songs about Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s most famous creation. Enjoy, and let us know if we missed any of your favorite Spider-tunes in the comments below.
Batman Theme by Neal Hefti
There’s probably not another song in existence that’s tied so closely to or instantly invokes thoughts of a superhero (with the possible exception of the Spider-Man theme). Combining surf music with a fairly simple yet brilliant set of lyrics, the theme song to the 1966 Batman TV show has been parodied, sampled or covered by everyone from Jan & Dean to the Kinks to Eddie Vedder to Eminem.
Vedder actually covered it with his daughter Harper:
And let’s not forget this rockin’ version by The Jam:
Burt Ward/Frank Zappa – Boy Wonder I Love You
The 1960s Batman TV show was a cultural phenomenon and made household name and heartthrobs out of many of its stars. Case in point, Robin, as played by Burt Ward, received a lot of fan mail. In a song arranged by Frank Zappa, Ward responds to many of those letters.
Batgirl Theme Song
But Robin wasn’t the only one breaking hearts on the show; Yvonne Craig played Batgirl in many of the episodes, and here she gets her very own theme song.
Adam West by Wally Wingert
And of course, there was Adam West, in his cape and cowl and grey underwear. This song by Wally Wingert actually came out in the late 1980s, right before the first Michael Keaton Batman movie, but it shows the enduring legacy of the 1960s TV show.
As does this next song …
Grandma’s Batman Tattoo by Eric Brace and Peter Cooper
Decades after the show went off the air, Americana artists Eric Brace and Peter Cooper tell the story of grandma’s previously unrevealed tattoo, which was a tribute to a certain caped crusader.
Batdance by Prince
It would be a couple decades later that Batman would grace the screen again, live action-wise, anyway, and this time around it was movie screens that portrayed a new version of Batman. The 1989 Batman film also introduced a new legacy of music to the caped crusader’s history, as artists like Prince, Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and more would contribute songs to the films made over the next decade. Here, of course, is the classic Batdance, by one of the greatest artists of all time, Prince.
Winged Mammal Theme by R.E.M.
One artist you won’t find on any of those soundtracks is R.E.M., who almost had a song in Batman Returns. It’s actually a remake of the 1960s Batman theme song, and it was eventually released as the B side to the single “Drive” with a more copyright friendly name.
Batman: The Animated Series by Danny Elfman
Following the success of the Batman films in the 1990s was Batman: The Animated Series, arguably one of the greatest animated programs of all time — and certainly the milestone that any other Batman cartoon will have to live up to. Danny Elfman, who contributed music to the films, did the iconic title music for the show.
(By the way, if you’d like to see all the intros to all the Batman animated programs made since the late 1960s, you can find them here).
Who’s The (Bat)Man by Patrick Stump
Let’s end this look at Batman music from the big and small screen with a song from The LEGO Batman Movie. We know from the first LEGO movie that LEGO Batman is a musician, writing dark, heavy music about brooding and dark feelings and the like. It’s why Wyldstyle was attracted to him. When he made the jump to his own movie, they kept that particular trait and gave us this wonderful song about the character.
Batman and Robin by Snoop Dog
“No one can save the day like Batman!” On his 2002 album Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss, Snoop Dogg teamed up with The Lady of Rage and RBX for this song about Batman and Robin. The song includes references to the Riddler, Gotham City, Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face and even Marvel Comics.
Batman by Bow Wow
Snoop Dogg isn’t the only rap artist to write about Batman; Bow Wow also wrote a song that references the Caped Crusader, as well as Robin and Mr. Freeze.
I Believe in Harvey Dent by Adam WarRock
Speaking of Two-Face, Harvey Dent gets his chance to shine in this song by Adam WarRock, who provides “hiphop for the geek crowd.”
Batman the Musical: Catwoman’s Song
Circa 1998-2001, Jim Steinman worked on a Batman musical (pre-dating the Spider-Man musical by several years). Unfortunately it was never made, but several of the songs from it have found their way to the internet, thanks to Steinman. Here’s one, spotlighting Catwoman. (An unofficial Batman Musical was made in 2003 and performed in Chicago; you can see act one here. It’s worth watching for the opening song about Batman’s origin).
Mercenary by Panic! at the Disco
Back in 2011, the second game in the Batman: Arkham series arrived, and with it came this song by Panic! At the Disco. Although it’s not overtly about Batman, “I dodge the blast and apologize for collateral damage” is still a really great line.
Side Kick by Rancid
Finally, I’m dubious about including this one by Rancid. Although it talks about being a vigilante sidekick named Tim, which makes you think it might be about Tim Drake, it could also just be a reference to the band’s singer Tim Armstrong. And considering he talks about Wolverine throughout the song, maybe I should have saved it for Wolverine Day. But hey, I kind of dig the song.