Super Mario Bros. Theme Is Officially a 'Defining' US Sound

It enters the National Recording Registry, along with 24 other 'sound artifacts'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 12, 2023 8:11 AM CDT
Library of Congress Preserves Super Mario Bros. Theme
This image released by Nintendo and Universal Studios shows Mario, voiced by Chris Pratt, left, and Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day in Nintendo's "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."   (Nintendo and Universal Studios via AP)

Mario, Madonna, and Mariah have entered the national audio canon. Madonna’s star-making 1984 album Like a Virgin, Mariah Carey’s 1994 holiday perennial "All I Want For Christmas Is You," and the original 1985 theme from Super Mario Bros. are now in the US National Recording Registry as part of "the defining sounds of the nation’s history and culture," the Library of Congress announced Wednesday. The Super Mario Bros. music, officially known as the "Ground Theme," written by young Nintendo composer Koji Kondo, becomes the first music from a video game to enter the registry, which called it in a news release "the most recognizable video game theme in history."

The Library of Congress selects the titles for preservation for their cultural and historic importance to the American soundscape. In all, 25 albums, singles, and other sound artifacts spanning more than a century are being inducted into the registry, from the first known recording of mariachi music in 1908 and 1909 by Cuarteto Coculense, to 2012's "Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra" by composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Queen Latifah becomes the first female rapper with a recording in the registry with the inclusion of her 1989 album All Hail the Queen. Other albums and singles getting recognition:

  • Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (1970)
  • Synchronicity by the Police (1983)
  • Black Codes (From the Underground) by jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (1985)
  • "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobby Gentry (1967)
  • "Imagine" by John Lennon (1971)
  • "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin (1971)
  • "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver (1971)
  • "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett (1977)
  • "Flashdance...What a Feeling" by Irene Cara (1983)
  • "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics (1983)

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The inductees include two non-musical entries, astronomer Carl Sagan's recording of his book about humanity's place in the universe, Pale Blue Dot, and NBC radio reporter Dorothy Thompson's commentaries and analysis from Europe during the runup to World War II in 1939. (More National Recording Registry stories.)

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