I never liked mainstream music.
Really, I didn't like much music at all.
Oh, sure, there was the occasional odd song I'd hear on some preview for the Rugrats films and I'd be singing it for the next couple of days, but I'd quickly forget about it. Well, okay, there was the whole thing with the theme song to the Pokemon animation, but that was about as far as it went. I always found the lyrics to be hard to follow, and I generally just found the whole mediuim to be unappealing and not as interesting as more physical activities. To be honest, music was never really a part of my life.
That is, until Super Smash Bros. Melee, a game that disguised itself as a fighter but was really a celebration of everything Nintendo, was popped into my brand new Gamecube. That game proceeded to rock my world harder then any game before it, but of all the things that made me fall in love with it, the music sucked me in the most. Songs that had first appeared on the NES had been upgraded into bouncy arrangements and beautiful orchestras. Orchestras! One in particular, a Kirby song that played on a stage known as The Fountain of Dreams, engrossed me so much that I would constantly battle on that stage just to listen to that sweet piece of heaven.
Songs like this can make me just die of euphoria.
Video game music? Scoff all you want, but I believe this is hands down the best musical genre out there. Ever since Melee and Kirby Super Star, there have been countless pieces of music from video games that have left a mark on me. It's a love that I often don't share in public, but nonetheless, it is a genre that, if you look around hard enough, respected as much as any other. There are symphonies that play video game music. I have actual CD soundtracks for video games, of which I listen to daily.
Nonetheless, the music for these games are still taken by many for granted, and I don't think I appreciate that. Without background music, just about every game out there would be barren, dead hulls devoid of being and personality. These songs, unnoticed as they are, bring our games to life.
I want to share my love for this underappreciated genre, and what better way than to analyze the most famous song of them all?
I present to you, the main theme for Super Mario Bros.
Creaky, tinny, and antiquated, the sound chips on the NES were quite limited and did not allow for much freedom, but yet managed to introduce the most famous songs in video game history. How did they pull this off?
Take a listen at the Mario theme for a moment. Notice how, despite its obvious technical age, the song itself is bouncy, energetic, and gears you up for a joyous romp through a mushroom-rampant fantasy land. Koji Kondo, the revered musician behind the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda series, had rearranged this song several times during the development of the game due to the game's growth, and eventually decided on a song that would not only suit the game, but would fit nicely into the beginning of a game.
And oh, how he succeeded.
By the way, is that song stuck in your head yet?
Let's talk about the song itself. Animated and vibrant, it's no wonder the song ingrained itself into millions and millions of people worldwide. This song flawlessly compliments the wild, nonsense world of Super Mario, and yet it also sparks a feeling of motivation and adventure. Whenever I stumble into a bottomless pit or fall prey to one of Bowser's baddies, the song starts right up again and without hesitation I dive right back into the action with the biggest grin on my face.
This song is so good.
Above all else, though, it is catchy. Seriously, just hum the song out loud. Doesn't it just hit the right chords? I hum it all the time, and I've caught some of my peers singing it as well. It's just a universal song, you hear it everywhere. My parents attended Video Games Live with me, and both of them still can't get this song out of their heads.
Really, what else can I say about it? It's just an amazing song that everyone loves, and it always brightens my day when I hear it.
Nintendo has revisted the song many times since Super Mario Brothers., and it is often labelled as the series' main theme. For your listening pleasure, here are some of my favorite variations of the song.
Super Mario Sunshine, a game that featured Mario with some weird hosing backpack device, is considered the black sheep of the 3D Mario games due to its strange premise, but just about everyone agrees the best part of the game were platforming sections, sans the water backpack, hidden in the game. These stages were brutally difficult and featured such staples such as disappearing platforms and impossible jumps. Probably the icing on the cake was the above Scat version of the main theme
Here's a laid-back version featured in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. I'd like to chill to this one day. Maybe if the soundtrack didn't cost so freaking much..
Here's an arrangement Koji Kondo himself had produced for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The song is interesting in that it collaborates with the stage it's set on: An abandoned, centuries-old version of World 1-1. Doesn't it sound perfect for radio?
Oh, and how about those orchestrations I mentioned earlier? Here's a clip from Video Games Live, a symphony that performs video game music around the world.
I've been there twice, and this segment is by far my favorite.
And of course, who can forget the infamous dance used during the credits of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show?
There's probably a bajillion more. I mean, what can you expect?
In short, this the greatest song ever. It's up there in my favorites. My top five, for sure.
So, how about that Super Mario Galaxy 2? Man, I can't decide which one is better, the original or the new kid on the block.
What I can say is that it's owning my life at the moment. My impressions are to arrive soon, then follows a double update with Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon Soul Silver.