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America cements Super Mario Bros. theme as part of nation’s history

The song was added to the National Recording Registry this year

Takumi Kawagoe, Shigeru Miyamoto and Koji Kondo attend a screening The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The three pose on the red carpet, left to right, in front of a movie poster.
From left to right, Takumi Kawagoe, Shigeru Miyamoto and Koji Kondo.
Photo: Leon Bennett/FilmMagic
Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

Mamma mia, the Super Mario Bros. theme has been rightfully recognized as a key contribution to U.S. history. It’s one of the 25 songs that will be added to the National Recording Registry this year, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced on Wednesday, and the first video game song to ever be added.

The Super Mario Bros. theme, officially titled “Ground Theme,” was composed by Koji Kondo, the storied Japanese composer behind many of Nintendo’s hits. The theme, released in 1985, has become ubiquitous — it’s appeared in numerous subsequent Mario games, was a theme in the recent Super Mario Bros. Movie, and has been remixed countless times across YouTube, TikTok, and elsewhere. 61-year-old Kondo, who still works at Nintendo, has made so many contributions to video game music history, including themes for The Legend of Zelda and arrangements in Super Smash Bros. games.

“Having this music preserved alongside so many other classic songs is such a great honor,” Kondo told the Library of Congress via an interpreter. “It’s actually a little bit difficult to believe.”

This feels like a moment of recognition in a year when Mario has taken the U.S. by storm. Yes, Mario-helmed Nintendo games have been beloved for years, but in the past six months, Mario has appeared in more places than ever. The Super Mario Bros. Movie broke box office records in its opening weekend, Super Nintendo World opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Nintendo Switch became the third-best-selling console of all time, with over 122 million sales.

Other additions to the National Recording Registry this year include Mariah Carey’s stone-cold Christmas classic “All I Want for Christmas is You,” Daddy Yankee’s absolute banger “Gasolina,” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” It’s a year for icons and classics, and the Mario theme has more than earned its place in music history.

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