Bat-tunes: Batman in rock and hip-hop
10 Images

Bat-tunes: 10 dark knight ditties

Bat-tunes: Batman in rock and hip-hop
By Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Why should Superman have all the rock ‘n’ roll fun?

Hit song after hit song references Superman lore. Check 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite,” or, more direct, R.E.M.’s cover of the Clique’s “Superman.”

Referencing the ‘man of tomorrow’ even helped experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson enter the mainstream when her “O Superman (For Massenet),” landed in the top-10 in the U.K. in 1981. The Flaming Lips later tapped the all-American hero for the majestic “Waiting for Superman” in 1999, in which no Man of Steel can tackle all the world’s problems.

But Batman? He’s had a far more scarce rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. In fact, the song most associated with the dark knight -- the vigilante who hunts crime in the shadows -- is a novelty Christmas song in which his diminutive sidekick lays an egg.

Yet there’s more to Bats than kid jingles. Here’s a look at some artists who found inspiration in Batman’s legend. (Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros.)
Lily Allen
Bat artist: Lily Allen

Bat song: “Guess Who Batman?”

Bat description: This chipper, profanity-laced ditty appeared on Allen’s MySpace page. The anger of the lyrics contrast with an almost child-like piano -- something that sounds as if it wouldn'’t be out of place on “Sesame Street.” No references to the caped crusader beyond the title, as Allen is taking direct aim at political conservatives in the cut. Perhaps she views it as a piece of music vigilantism, or maybe it’s just random words that match the initials of the current U.S. president. (Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images)
50 Cent featuring Eminem
Bat artist: 50 Cent featuring Eminem

Bat song: “Gatman & Robin”

Bat description: 50 Cent reimagines the campiness of the ‘60s Adam West series, even referencing the show’s theme, with a cartoonish gansta rap song that celebrates the Bat’'s outlaw qualities. Check the video, in which 50 drives around with a souped-up Batmobile, and he and Eminen are sort of a tag-team hitman duo. (YouTube)
Lupe Fiasco
Bat artist: Lupe Fiasco

Bat song: “Theme Music to a Drive-By”

Bat description: For all those who keep referring to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films as the darkest of the bunch, this Lupe Fiasco cut serves as a reminder as to just how colorfully sadistic Tim Burton’s two films were. On this popular mixtape cut, the socially aware geek rapper throws in nods to Bruce Wayne and the Joker, and has them both operating at a level beyond the comprehension of “The Man.” Lupe also brings in one of the signature lines from the 1989 film, the Joker’s haunting “You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Bat artist: Genesis

Bat song: “Blood on the Rooftops”

Bat description: And we pause now to reflect, to remember when childlike fare such as comic books still had a hold on our imagination. Sit back and let yourself be consumed by the gently finger-picked guitars and dreamy orchestrations. Midway through the song comes the Batman reference, with the lyric, “Hypnotized by Batman, Tarzan, still surprised!” Ah, nostalgia for naivety. But still, it’s not Superman that Genesis was reading. (EPA)
Bat artist: Fu-Schnickens

Bat song: “What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock?)”

Bat description: Always guaranteed to lighten the mood: the Fu-Schnickens. Here, this party-rap song is full of pop-culture references and basketball court-worthy trash talk. And those who cross the Fu-Schnickens? Punks, “like Penguin and the Joker,” sings Moc Fu. (YouTube)
Bat artist: Eminem

Bat songs: “Without Me” and “Business”

Bat description: He’s not the Boy Wonder, but Eminem becomes the Robin-like “Rap Boy” for the video of “Without Me,” with Dr. Dre playing the role of Batman. There’s even a brief vocal refrain that references the theme to the 1960s TV series. Eminem has proven to be quite the Batman fan, also rapping in “Business” that it “looks like Batman brought his own Robin,” comparing himself and Dre to the “dynamic duo.” (YouTube)
Snoop Dogg
Bat artist: Snoop Dogg

Bat song: “Batman & Robin”

Bat description: If the likes of Eminem and 50 Cent re-appropriated the Batman myth to fit in with their own, Snoop Dogg went a lighter route, crafting a silly but sweet ode to the crime fighter. Again, the ‘60s theme song reappears, but it’s slower, groovier, as Snoop calls back to Alfred to have some Buffalo wings ready when he returns to the manor. And while duty calls, Snoop would clearly rather hang in the Bat Cave with Catwoman. It’s the campy Batman we all know, but far more chill. (Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images / MTV)
The Shapes
Bat artist: The Shapes

Bat song: “(I Saw) Batman (in the Launderette)”

Bat description: It was only a matter of time before punk rock discovered the rebel vigilante. But the Shapes didn’t latch onto the romance of the outsider hero. While the Clash were using references to Robin Hood to beef up their political arguments, the Shapes were, er, humanizing Batman, giving the ‘60s TV show theme a scrappy guitar treatment and portraying the crime fighter as someone who still needs to “get his dirties clean” – and for some unknown reason he must do so in public. (Overground Records)
Jan & Dean
Bat artist: Jan & Dean

Bat song: “Batman”

Bat description: Listening to it today, it’s a bit novelty, but there’s still plenty of West Coast surfer-cool to the cut. The Beach Boy pals were capitalizing on the popularity of the Adam West series, and crafted a handful of songs that pay loving tribute to the show, including “Robin the Boy Wonder.” (