Ok…Nick Carter straddling the country line is possibly as good as the Nick Carter doused in R&B. Of all the Nick solo work we’ve gotten, I’ve always gravitated to the R&B work. I’m Taking Off is by far my favorite of the 3 solo records he’s put out. But I have to admit, this country feel looks really good on him. It also just continues to prove that this man is a chameleon and can literally sing ANYTHING and sound amazing.
When I first heard clips of this song, I was excited for it, but a bit nervous. The name, Superman, was honestly a quick turnoff for me. I imagined a very cheesy song and wasn’t sure it would be quite up my alley.
Boy was I wrong…I can’t stop listening to it.
The lyrics are both hard to interpret and incredibly jarring. It’s no secret that Nick has experienced many ups and downs in his life, from childhood stardom to grown Backstreet Boy. It seems like he’s speaking about something specific in his life. But the lyrics can also apply to his whole career and experience growing up in the limelight.
As I listen to the lyrics, I have so many questions. There is so much depth in these words and I have all these ideas of what he’s referring to, but I’m just not certain.
My first question: Who is the audience?
The first lines make it clear that there is SOME audience, someone or some group he is directing this song towards:
In a flash, he was running around
Burning to the ground
Everything in the same old town
Never thinking what it would do to you
My first thought, which is probably the easiest, was that this is written for his wife. The turmoil his life has created for her and for their family would be enough to sing about, especially given that Lauren tends to get a good brunt of anger thrown her way.
He goes on to say in the chorus:
You know that
All I wanna do is rescue you
From this burning place of pain
Of course he wants to protect his family. He wants to be a source of joy, not pain. It makes perfect sense that this may be about not only his wife, but his whole family.
But the more I listen, the more I’m not so sure.
The chorus talks about Nick admitting that he isn’t a superhero. That line seems to be talking about him realizing that he cannot be everything to everybody. He cannot live up to everyone’s expectations or save everyone from their demons.
We know that Nick is a people pleaser. He is always wanting to be there for his fans, to love on them, to show how grateful he is for them, and he talks about the fans being like family to him. We also see that often people rely heavily on Nick for a pick me up. A shout out or even a like on a social media post can lift a person’s spirits tremendously. There are regular calls to Nick to help someone feel better because he truly has that affect on many of us, even through the Twitter (sorry-X) platform. But Nick’s words are almost an admission that he cannot be that person for everyone all the time.
The line just before the first chorus speaks to this too:
Now I’m exposed
My armor’s broken
Can I still save the day?
Even when he is at his lowest personally, he still has to put on that face for others. He tries so hard to be “on” for his fans, regardless of what he has happening in his own life. He wants to be able to show his love and gratitude for everyone, but it is impossible with his whole fanbase to be able to do that constantly.
Probably the most clever line of the whole song:
You might think your heart is Kryptonite
But I’m the one who’s drained
If you aren’t a Superman fan, you may not know the origin of the word Kryptonite. It is used often in English verbiage to indicate someone’s weakness; something that someone cannot turn down. It actually originated from the Superman comics. Kryptonite, from planet Krypton-Superman’s native land, was a chemical that was deadly to Kryptonians. When exposed to it, Superman would get very ill and weak. These lines are suggesting that whoever the audience is, they believe that they are weakened. Nick combats this, saying he’s the weaker one, and that they have more strength than he does.
Could that be referring to the way fans can uplift when he is down?
Then the whole second verse takes a slightly different turn:
Now my fall from grace was just a little late to rescue you
Dodging the speeding bullets to get to you
I guess there’s nothing that I can do
The second verse starts with another admission of things he was unable to accomplish. He was high in life, but then fell from grace through a series of mistakes. In doing this, he lost his chance to save someone or something. Was it himself? His reputation, his career, his whole life came crashing down. At that point, he was at rock bottom, which he has shared many times over.
But if I can take the criticism
And the rocks aimed to hit ya
What if it doesn’t weaken me
I guess there’s nothing there left to prove
This section makes the argument stronger that he is singing this for himself. After all the shit he has been through, he has had to learn to be strong for himself. He has had to grow that strength and armor so that the words from others, their opinions, those rocks hurled at him would not, could not hurt him any longer. And once he truly accepted himself, then that criticism couldn’t weaken him and there would be nothing left to prove to anyone else because he would finally be at peace with who he was in this world.
Of course, there are a bunch of other lines that oppose every single thing I’ve said above…
And that is the beauty of music! It can mean something different to everyone all at once based on their experiences or even just what they need in the moment. I imagine, that might be the case for Nick too. Hopefully one day I’ll get a chance to ask him outright!
Until then, I will happily play this one on repeat.
Congratulations Nick and your whole team. It is beautiful.
Listen to the song on all streaming platforms!
Check out his Lyric video here:
And if you want to see this live, grab your tickets to Nick’s #WhoIAmTour coming this fall!
For Tickets to the Arizona Show Oct 24:
Want to see even more shows? Check out Nick’s website: