27 Of The Best Songs About Heroes

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

We are captivated by heroes because they often save the day. And they look great while doing it, wearing their capes, masks, and outfits.

But, as the saying goes, “Not all heroes wear capes.” Sometimes they wear a doctor’s lab gown, a firefighter’s suit, and uniforms that represent their chosen profession. More often, though, it’s the person you see in the mirror. Yes, we can also be heroes.

To celebrate these wonderful people, we have come up with a list of 27 of the best songs about heroes. Read on to find out more.

1. “Heroes” By David Bowie

One of the most popular songs by David Bowie is “Heroes.” It follows a German couple who are determined to be together despite the wall that separates them.

The song begins with Bowie likening the lovers to a king and queen. They stand tall amidst life’s challenges and remain undefeated. They meet by the Berlin Wall, which divides the city into East and West.

They dream of escaping their oppressive reality and being heroes for one day. The song expresses a sense of hope and defiance in the face of adversity, as well as a romantic idealism.

2. “We Don’t Need Another Hero” By Tina Turner

If you want a song with “hero” in the title that is about survival, resilience, and hope, then listen to Tina Turner‘s “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” This was released in 1985 as the main theme of the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

The song is about the desire for peace and freedom in a post-apocalyptic world where violence and oppression are rampant. The younger generation, the victims of destruction, look for hope in such a bleak world.

However, it is not a hero they need to save the day. Instead, they call for self-reliance and cooperation among the survivors. In their desire for freedom, they are ready to make their home beyond Thunderdome.

3. “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” By Five For Fighting

When we look at superheroes, there’s this notion that they are invincible. But we see another side to them from Five for Fighting‘s “Superman (It’s Not Easy).”

This rock ballad is written from the perspective of Superman, the fictional superhero who is often seen as a symbol of strength and heroism. However, the song reveals that Superman is also vulnerable and lonely and struggles with his identity and role in the world.

The song expresses a sense of humility and humanity and a longing for acceptance and belonging. The song resonated with many listeners, especially after the World Trade Center attacks when it was used as a tribute to the victims and the first responders.

4. “My Hero” By Foo Fighters

Contrary to what many assume, Foo Fighters‘ “My Hero” is not about Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Rather, it celebrates ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

Specifically, the song is about people who contribute to the betterment of the world in their own ways, no matter how small. It pays tribute to those who inspire others with their courage and integrity without seeking fame or glory.

The song shows that you don’t have to be a big shot to be called a hero. More often, people who are considered “common” or “ordinary” are actually the ones who make a huge difference in the world.

5. “Hero” By Mariah Carey

We are heroes in our own way. That’s the message behind Mariah Carey‘s 1993 chart-topper, “Hero.” The song was featured in her album Music Box and was considered her signature song.

The song works around the premise that even through life’s difficulties, we can find the strength to rise above all. It inspires us to believe and not be afraid of our potential.

The song encourages us to look within ourselves to find our own hero. It also suggests that even if life becomes challenging, we can triumph by finding the courage and resilience inside us.

6. “Holding Out For A Hero” By Bonnie Tyler

The Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler recorded “Holding Out for a Hero” in 1984 for the movie Footloose. Some may consider this song the cheesiest of the time, but perhaps it’s what made this song popular.

The song is about the longing for a hero who can sweep you off your feet and save you from your troubles. It describes the ideal qualities of such a hero, such as being strong, fast, fresh from the fight, larger than life, and ready to dream.

In addition, the song expresses a sense of urgency and impatience as the narrator wonders where and when she will find her hero.

7. “A Real Hero” By College Ft. Electric Youth

The French artist College and the Canadian duo Electric Youth collaborated on the 2010 single “A Real Hero.” The lyrics revolve around two persons: a real hero and a fictional one.

The real hero refers to Chesley Sullenberger, pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 on the famed water landing. He gets the spotlight in the second verse of the song, revered for saving “155 people on board.”

The fictional hero, on the other hand, refers to Max Rockatansky, the protagonist of the Mad Max franchise. David Grellier of College pays homage to the character through the song.

Two things that these two heroes have in common are having a strong will and showing critical thinking even under pressure.

8. “Hero” By Nickelback

One of the most popular songs with “hero” in the lyrics is Nickelback‘s “Hero.” It was released in 2002 as a soundtrack for the film Spider-Man.

The hero in the song is someone who comes to help those who are unable to help themselves. It perfectly fits Spider-Man‘s narrative, where Peter Parker helps others despite his own problems.

The most memorable part of the song is the chorus, where the singer talks about taking action and not standing around waiting for a hero to save mankind. He questions whether being a hero is worth the sacrifice and the loneliness and whether anyone can truly be a hero.

9. “Hero” By Family Of The Year

Being a hero is a huge responsibility; that’s why it isn’t easy being looked up to as one. Family of the Year‘s “Hero” features a protagonist who knows this fact and is not in the least bit interested in becoming a hero.

The chorus of the song drives home the message of the song. The singer insists, “I don’t wanna be your hero, I don’t wanna be a big man.” He could be someone who feels pressure from around him to become someone else.

What he wants is to be an ordinary person, meaning to have a job and keep his girlfriend. He wants a normal life where he is free to do what he wants and “fight” along with everyone else.

10. “Hero” By Enrique Iglesias

In contrast to the protagonist in our previous song, the singer in Enrique Iglesias‘ “Hero” expresses his desire to be the hero of his love interest.

This romantic pop ballad is about his love and devotion for his lover and his willingness to do anything for her. When he declares, “I can be your hero,” he means he will be there to comfort her during the most difficult times.

He also promises to never leave her side through the ups and downs. He is a man who is ready to give his unconditional love and protect her from any pain.

11. “Hero” By Regina Spektor

Songs are always open to different interpretations, just like Regina Spektor‘s 2009 single, “Hero.” Here, we can say that the so-called hero has made a mistake but is in denial that he needs help.

Why? Because he is the hero of his story and doesn’t “need to be saved.” Obviously, the hero displays self-reliance and resilience, showing that he can overcome any challenges and dictate the direction of his life.

However, it’s clear that he is upset because “he never, ever saw it coming at all.” He tries to convince himself that it’s okay. Despite being hurt, he believes that everything will be fine.

12. “Hero Of War” By Rise Against

The next song on our list is “Hero Of War,” a powerful acoustic rock song by the American band Rise Against. Released in 2008, it tells the story of a soldier’s experiences in war.

The lyrics follow the life of a young soldier who joins the army, believing that he is doing the right thing. He expects to be celebrated as a hero when he comes back after the war.

However, he soon realizes that war is not as glorious and noble as he thought. He ends up being involved in atrocities and crimes against humanity. Particularly, he joins in torturing a prisoner and kills a civilian.

The song portrays the soldier’s disillusionment, guilt, and struggle to cope with his trauma and identity.

13. “You’re My Hero” By Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps

Up next is an ode to the heroes in our homes, our dads. “You’re My Hero” is a soulful blues song by Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps.

“You’re My Hero” expresses admiration and love from a daughter to her father. As their relationship is built on trust and love, they share a strong and deep bond between them.

From her younger years to the present, he has been an important figure in her life. He has been there for her through thick and thin and has made her life better and brighter. The daughter feels “twice as blessed and lucky” for having a father whom she looks upon as a hero.

14. “One Call Away” By Charlie Puth

One doesn’t have to do big things to be considered a hero. In Charlie Puth‘s “One Call Away,” being there for his loved one whenever she needs him is enough.

Indeed, one’s presence in another’s life makes a huge difference. Saying he’s only a call away means he’s willing to drop everything and be there for her “to save the day.”

He further claims that Superman has nothing on him. He not only comes to his lover’s rescue when she needs him. He does it with love and care, making sure to provide her comfort.

15. “Working Class Hero” By John Lennon

In 1970, John Lennon released “Working Class Hero.” It has become significant for its socio-economic commentary.

The song does not celebrate working-class heroes. Instead, it shows the struggles and sacrifices of ordinary people. It shines a light on how society molds people from a young age into becoming working class.

Lennon observes that “as soon as you’re born, they make you feel small.” Society oppresses and exploits them and brainwashes them into accepting their fate. As a result, individuals feel pressured, preventing them from pursuing their individuality and ambition.

16. “Wind Beneath My Wings” By Bette Midler

In 1989, Bette Midler‘s version of “Wind Beneath My Wings” was released. It became the highest-charting version of this song and was the soundtrack of the movie Beaches.

One of the allures of “Wind Beneath My Wings” is its universal message that can be applied to any type of relationship. It is an ode to a person whose presence has made such a significant impact on the singer’s life. The title is a metaphor for this person, whose support helps the singer to “fly higher than an eagle.”

For all that this person has done through the years, the singer expresses her gratitude and admiration. She looks at him as a hero, someone that she wants to emulate.

17. “Something Just Like This” By The Chainsmokers Ft. Coldplay

Another collaboration on our list is “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay. They sing about finding ordinary love and appreciating your lover for who they are. It’s more important to cherish every moment together.

The singer references various mythical and fictional heroes, such as Hercules and Batman. He recognizes that he does not belong to their group, perhaps seeing himself as lacking.

Fortunately for him, his love interest is not interested in a superhero or someone with superhuman gifts. What she wants is an authentic relationship, a simple, genuine connection rather than something extraordinary.

18. “Flash” By Queen

Up next is “Flash,” a rock song by the British band Queen. It was released in 1980 and was the theme song of the film Flash Gordon.

The song is notable for its lack of clear lyrics. However, it uses vocalizations and some dialogue from the movie.

From the structure of the song, we can glean that it’s about the heroism and adventure of Flash Gordon. He is a football player and space traveler who fights against the evil Emperor Ming the Merciless. The song praises Flash for being a savior of the universe and a miracle.

19. “Kryptonite” By 3 Doors Down

Even superheroes have weaknesses. 3 Doors Down‘s “Kryptonite” refers to the substance that brings Superman to his knees. In this song, the title is a metaphor for the singer’s own weaknesses.

The lyrics are written from the perspective of one person and address his friend. This person is strong in many ways. In fact, he’d always been there for his friend through everything. The line “If not for me, then you’d be dead” suggests he had saved his friend too many times and helped him get back on his feet.

However, he also recognizes that he has his weaknesses or kryptonite. He implores his friend to remain by his side even when he’s at his weakest.

20. “Hero Of The Day” By Metallica

Further down the list, we have “Hero of the Day” by the heavy metal band Metallica. From their 1996 album Load, the song is about the singer finding himself in a difficult situation and longing for a hero.

The band’s vocalist James Hetfield says that “Hero of the Day” is about children looking for heroes outside their homes. They do not see that they have heroes at home: their parents.

These heroes are the inspiration and strength that the children look for. However, they fail to see that. To make it worse, our role models or heroes can also fail or let us down.

21. “Hero/Heroine” By Boys Like Girls

Next, we have the pop-punk song “Hero/Heroine” from the American band Boys Like Girls. It was released in 2006 from their self-titled album.

From the lyrics, we can see how life quickly turns around. Having someone who is always there and whom you can rely on is a saving grace.

The singer is truly and deeply in love with this person, making him feel like a hero when they’re together. In the same way, he looks at her as his heroine. This shows that love brings positivity into their lives, with each of them providing strength to keep their relationship intact.

22. “Hero’s Come Back!!” By nobodyknows+

The Japanese hip-hop band nobodyknows+ released “Hero’s Come Back!!” in 2007. It became popular when it was used as the first opening theme for the anime Naruto: Shippuden.

The lyrics, which are mostly in Japanese, follow the hero and his comrades who ready themselves to fight. The words reflect the excitement and anticipation for the return of the hero, who has been away for a long time.

In addition, the song praises the hero for being strong, brave, cool, and having a passion and vision. He is the epitome of someone who perseveres and never gives up.

23. “Hero” By Skillet

Another song that mentions “hero” comes from the Christian rock band Skillet. “Hero” was released in 2009 and refers to Jesus Christ as the titular character.

The song finds the singer feeling overwhelmed by all the things that go on in his life. He feels weak and is losing his faith. Despite trying to fight and live each day, he acknowledges that he can’t handle everything on his own.

He admits that he is only human and “not superhuman” and desperately needs a hero to give him hope. The hero he needs is someone who is”not afraid to give his life” and someone who will save him.

24. “Zero To Hero” By Ariana Grande

From the We Love Disney album comes the song “Zero to Hero” by Ariana Grande. The song was originally from the movie Hercules.

At its core, the song is about Hercules’ transformation as a result of facing various challenges and enemies. When once he used to be a nobody or a zero, now he is a celebrated hero.

Many are quick to point out the characteristics that make him stand out. He is sweet, brave, can slay monsters, and conquer anything. Everyone is captivated by his strength, courage, and charisma. These attributes enable him to secure the admiration of his people.

25. “Superheroes” By The Script

The Irish rock band The Script has contributed to our list with their 2014 single, “Superheroes.” The song speaks about human resilience, strength, and the ability to overcome difficulties.

The song was inspired by the band’s visit to South Africa, where they witnessed the struggles and resilience of the people. Thus, they wrote the song as a tribute to the everyday heroes who work hard and fight for their dreams, even when they face challenges.

The song acknowledges the pain and sacrifice that come with being a hero. However, it also highlights the reward of overcoming obstacles and making a difference.

26. “Heroes (We Could Be)” By Alesso Ft. Tove Lo

Swedish DJ Alesso teamed up with Swedish singer Tove Lo to produce the 2015 single “Heroes (We Could Be).” This collaboration was featured in the album Future Trance 71.

According to Tove Lo, she was inspired to write the song after watching an episode of the TV series Heroes. Admitting that there is nothing extraordinary about her, it made her wish to have some special powers.

As the lyrics show, the singer desires to be more than just ordinary. She wants to break free from her routine and make a difference in someone’s life. In short, a hero.

27. “Somebody’s Hero” By Jamie O’Neal

To end our list, we give you “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal. This country song comes from her 2005 studio album, Brave.

This song is a wonderful tribute to every mother out there. It celebrates mothers who tirelessly give their love to their children from childhood to adulthood. It posits that though mothers haven’t done anything monumental, such as saving somebody from a burning building, they are the heroes for their daughters.

This song reminds us of the mother’s love, sacrifice, and strength and how she inspires her daughter to follow her example.

Summing Up Our List Of Hero Songs

Our list above proves that heroism can be found in different forms and genres of music. From classic hits to modern pop anthems, each song celebrates the courage and selflessness of individuals who make a difference in our lives.

These melodies uplift us during difficult times and inspire us to be better versions of ourselves. The songs capture the essence of what it means to be brave, kind-hearted, and honorable human beings.

These songs are a good reminder that we have the power to make a positive impact on others’ lives.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.