Best Song Ever?: Superman (Goldfinger)

Another in the “Best Song Ever?” series. Simply, I give the background, a point, a counterpoint, then star rating for songs that I have on my list of “good songs” with the goal of deciding what’s the best song ever. Note for those using feedreaders: the song is embedded on this review’s entry so there’s a point-of-reference in the review; you might want to view this entry from the webpage instead of the feed.

Background
Goldfinger was one of the bigger bands (along with The Mighty Might Bosstones and Reel Big Fish) of the ska “boom” of 1996/1997. They’ve been churning out albums at the pace of about one every other year since 1996, and are known for doing hundreds of concerts each year. The album Hang-Ups is probably their best work. The preceding self-titled album was a bit rough around the edges and the later albums (3 as of today), while solid, didn’t quite have the creative edge presented with the whole of Hang-Ups. Basically, along with Blink 182, Goldfinger invented pop-punk, though for Goldfinger, the “pop” aspect never really came true. I heard the song “Superman” in 9th grade in 1997, and since then it’s been one of my favorites.

For

  • Incorporates the trumpets and trombones without it being gimmicky. They don’t sound out of place, and they used sparingly enough that the texture they add is not arbitrary.
  • Similar to the last song reviewed, the return from the bridge (the bridge starting at 1:57) happens at exactly the right time within the song (2:23 as the lead guitar plays 3 notes to lead into a recap of the first verse), and the stripped down arrangement of rhythm guitar, bass, cymbal ride, and vocals is the perfect contrast to the “throw everything at the fan” arrangement of the bridge.
  • Ambitious bass playing.

Against

  • Probably a bit too aggressive for most people.
  • Some people just don’t and won’t like the ska, guitar chord on the upbeat style.
  • No one’s going to be writing a treatise on the lyrics any time soon. (maybe Nate would be up it)

***

In terms of this being the best song ever, it gets only 3 stars. It puts up a good fight, but a real test here is whether one can listen to it beginning to end more than once in a row. This song? Can’t do it. I could listen to the recapitulation of the first verse after the bridge (starting at 2:23) all day long, but unfortunately that’s only part of the song, not the whole thing. And, well, the whole ska thing probably knocks it out of competition for good.

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