Have you ever been listening to music, having a good time, and then BAM, all of a sudden you hear the first four notes of a song from a video game — and then that song is stuck in your head for the rest of the day?
Well, this isn’t always a coincidence. Many music composers are heavily inspired by their favorite music, sometimes on purpose, sometimes without even realizing it. it’s called interjection, a common musical technique in which a musician uses borrowed melodies to compose his own song. It’s functionally different from sampling, which is sampling directly from another song, and most importantly, it doesn’t steal!
But it’s always exciting and weird to find video game tropes, and we’ve scoured the web to find a massive selection. Three pages One of the best examples of music that inspired video game music, even if not all of it is completely confirmed. And yes, there is a lot of Koji Kondo here. What do we say? The man likes interpolation…
The real songs that inspired Nintendo’s hit music
The Legend of Zelda “Title Theme” and “Dungeon Theme” – “April” by Deep Purple
Perhaps one of the most iconic tracks in video games, Zelda’s title theme is inspired by this highly canonical track by Deep Purple. Of course, it’s 12 minutes long, because Deep Purple wasn’t exactly known for its ability to keep things fast-paced. This is prog rock, baby.
Tune in at 1.5 speeds to hear Zelda really come through, and see if you can catch the bits that inspired the Dungeon Theme, too!
Super Mario “Starman Theme” – “Summer Breeze” Piper
The Starman theme from Super Mario is very catchy, and that’s no accident. It’s heavily based on this Japanese pop dripping with ’80s synth:
Super Mario Underground Theme – “Let’s Not Talk About It” from Friendship
The running joke people make about this track serving as inspiration for Koji Kondo is that it’s even named “Let’s not talk about it,” Kondo said as if to hide his habit of borrowing catchy tunes. But, again, interpolation is legal, popular, and often a great way to pollinate the worlds of music. So just sit back and enjoy!
Super Mario “Overworld Theme” – “Sister Marian” by T Square
In a 2001 Game Maestro interview, Vol. 3, Kondo admitted that he was particularly inspired by the Japanese jazz band, T Square. “It was easy for Japanese listeners to follow the rhythms in their music,” he told the interviewer. Satao Watanabe, whose laid-back bossa nova rhythms influenced the ambiance of Super Mario’s music. Click 1:02 on the video below to hear a Mario-like voice:
Animal Crossing: New Horizons ‘KK Adventure’ – ‘He’s A Pirate’ from Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt, Hans Zimmer and Jeff Zanelli
Yes, KK’s a pirate too – pirate melodies, that is. A lot of KK Slider’s songs draw from real music, especially in the genre they parody. “just me“Looks like REM’s”Everyone hurtsfor example, andKK Bossa‘ It seems like ‘Girl from Ipanema“.
The Legend of Zelda “Fairy Fountain” – “Morning Glory” by Tatsuro Yamashita
The exquisite Fairy Voice Statues did not come out of nowhere. The track is nice enough that we made a ordered list All Copy of the Fairy Fountain, but maybe we should have included “Morning Glory,” which has a distinct melody in the background of dreamy vocals. Maybe Tatsuru Yamashita was getting upgrades to his armor when he wrote this song?