The Origin of Super Mario Bros. Underground Theme

by Joseph Tavano

You’ll never be able to un-hear this! The Super Mario Bros Underground Theme may have come from a very unlikely place!

Before we get into the origin of Super Mario Bros underground theme, let’s pay some respects, quickly. Today is the 34th anniversary of Donkey Kong, the seminal work that introduced the world to Donkey Kong, Pauline, and of course, Mario (then known as Jump Man).

I have only the vaguest recollections of seeing this game in a pizza parlor prior to the release of the NES. I was, after all, born in 1980, so all my recollections before 1985 are pretty vague. Anyway, I’m not alone among my generation of late Gen Xers to say that Super Mario Bros. was the first console game I ever played, and it left an indelible mark on me.


The game play is ingrained so far that I could literally play with my eyes closed, but I think the music is what has truly resonated as the decades go by. It’s because the music was the heart of a game with no voice. It made us feel a certain way while playing. It told us when to be tense, when to jump with joy, when to be careful, and when it’s ok to just swim. I still love the swimming levels, I don’t care what you say.

Needless to say, I was FLOORED when I found this clip. I picked up on this song from a comment published some time ago, and couldn’t believe more light hasn’t been shed on the subject. Just listen to the track and you’ll see what I mean.


You heard it, right?! This song, “Let’s No Talk About It,” published in 1979–6 years before the release of Super Mario Bros.–is a clear inspiration for the Underground Theme. Heck, the main melody is practically note-for-note! Friendship was a prog-rock supergroup of the time, and easily the type of music that Koji Kondo (SMB’s composer) would be listening to.

After a few listens, I quite like the tune. The end has a distinct Night Court feel that just takes me back to a time when pop music all sounded like this.

If you’re interested in a deep-dive into the music of SMB, check out this fantastic book. Not an ad or a promo, I just really find it interesting.

So, what do you think? Is your mind blown? Am I out to lunch? Talk to us on Twitter (@RetroZapped) and let us know!



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