When “Super Mario Bros.” was introduced to the world in 1985, no one could’ve predicted how the game would permanently ingrain itself into popular culture. Here we are in 2023, and the characters from the gaming franchise have become household names. Millions upon millions of Mario games have been sold, and “The Super Mario Bros.” movie is currently setting box office records. If that wasn’t enough, the game now has another notable distinction, thanks to the Library of Congress and its National Recording Registry.
Since 2002, the Library of Congress selects a group of recordings to include in its National Recording Registry. The goal is to celebrate creativity and preserve recordings that are “culturally important” for future generations. These recordings can be a full album, song, audio comedy skit, or monolog of some kind. The registry recently added the first radio broadcast of the famous Abbott and Costello routine, “Who’s on First,” the Steely Dan album “Aja,” and Billy Joel‘s “Piano Man.”
In 2023, Mario is jumping into the registry as well with the level 1-1 theme, composed by Koji Kondo.
Intensely memorable and iconic, the Super Mario theme is the very first video game song to be given this honor. Video game composition has come a long way, and that’s what in part, makes it so special. Given the limited technology and memory space composers like Kondo had to work with at the time, composition was as much about making music as it was about doing what you could with what little you had. Even in those confines, Kondo was able to craft a melody that is recognizable in only a few notes by generations of people.
Other inductees this year include Queen Latifah and her record “All Hail the Queen,” which released back in 1989. This also marks a first for a female rapper. Another addition is Carl Sagan, who’s reading of his own book, “Pale Blue Dot,” was also inducted. A portion of that recording has made its way online over the years, known as his “Pale Blue Dot Speech.”
When it comes to recordings that you may wonder, “how wad that not already in?.” Like “Stairway to Heaven” from Led Zeppelin. Yup- considered by many to be one of the greatest songs in the history of rock and roll, it took 21 years for the National Recording Registry to put it in. The Police album “Synchronicity” also made it in. Oh and uh, Jimmy Buffet‘s “Margaritaville” was inducted too. Because why the hell not at this point, right?
Our congratulations go out to the inductees knowing that their recordings will be preserved for generations to come. Which after reading that sentence makes you realize the US government really was throwing Jimmy Buffet a bone there, weren’t they?