The National Recording Registry, part of the Library of Congress, is a collection of songs and scores that “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States”. This is the stuff, selected by experts and historians, that will be stored and preserved so that future generations can listen to the most important music of our time. And in April 2023 the collection has its first piece of video game music.
As part of the 2023 class, alongside Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and the Flashdance song, Koji Kondo’s The Super Mario Bros. Theme, also known as Ground Theme, was selected. The Registry explain the selection as:
Perhaps the most recognizable video game theme in history, Koji Kondo’s main motif for the 1985 Nintendo classic, “Super Mario Bros.,” helped establish the game’s legendary status and proved that the five-channel Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sound chip was capable of vast musical complexity and creativity. The game’s main theme, or “Ground Theme,” is a jaunty, Latin-influenced melody that provides the perfect accompaniment to Mario and Luigi’s side scrolling hijinks. Kondo’s score laid the groundwork for an entire generation of chiptune musicians and has been performed by orchestras around the globe, befitting its status as one of the most beloved musical compositions of the last 40 years.
It’s extremely cool that they didn’t just pick it for how iconic it has become, but for technical and artistic reasons as well, the kind of stuff we tend to overlook (or never know in the first place!) when discussing it.
Also making the cut were The Police’s album Synchronicity and Queen Latifah’s 1989 classic All Hail the Queen.