Super Mario Bros. Movie: what songs feature in the video game film soundtrack

26 April 2023, 14:46

Brian Tyler takes hundreds of iconic themes from the video game series and turns them into an orchestral masterpiece
Brian Tyler takes hundreds of iconic themes from the video game series and turns them into an orchestral masterpiece. Picture: Alamy

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

We explore all the songs on the new Super Mario Bros. Movie soundtrack, which has been delighting new fans and long-time gamers alike...

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The Super Mario Bros. Movie has raced to the top of the Box Office scoring an impressive $337 million (£302 million) on opening weekend, making it the biggest worldwide debut for an animated film and the highest-grossing video game cinematic adaption of all time.

And behind such a colourful and record-breaking movie as this, it's no surprise that there’s an equally vibrant soundtrack to match.

The easter-egg chocked film score by American composer, Brian Tyler, incorporates new musical motifs alongside reminiscently recognisable themes from the Mario video game universe, giving fans an audio ‘warp’ down memory lane.

So let’s dive into how the iconic musical themes from the original games were transformed into the sweeping orchestral Hollywood score of dreams, setting a new precedent for video game film composers everywhere.

Read more: The 20 best video game soundtracks of all time

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What original Mario songs feature on The Super Mario Bros. Movie soundtrack?

Whether or not you’ve played any of the Mario video games, you’ll most likely recognise the series’ iconic musical themes.

From the main ‘Ground Theme’ to the ‘Super Star’ music, these fast-paced musical giants have a well-deserved position in the video game music Hall of Fame.

In the case of ‘Ground Theme’, the Library of Congress has recently announced that this work will be the first piece of video game music to be given places in the US national recording registry.

Both of these themes and countless others were written by the legendary Koji Kondo, a Japanese composer who has been with Nintendo since 1984, where he was hired as their first composition specialist.

Kondo’s first major musical work was for Super Mario Bros. the second game to star the Brooklyn-based plumber for which he wrote a six-track score. Almost 40 years later, he still works across the Mario universe and while he did not work as the primary composer for the new movie, his influence – and other composers’ from the series – can still be heavily felt in Tyler’s work.

This, by Tyler’s own admission, is because the American composer used at least 113 different musical references from the Mario video game series in his score. Take a listen to the preview below to see what themes you can spot.

Read more: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: soundtrack and every musical easter egg

Super Mario Bros Soundtrack Preview Composed By Brian Tyler

Turning electronic themes created on synthesisers and turning them into orchestral works is no easy feat, but Tyler managed to do this, perhaps due to his own love and nostalgia for the video game music.

According to Variety, Tyler jumped at the chance to compose for this film as the music was part of his childhood, in the same way that he grew up listening to film scores.

“I wanted to incorporate the music that I heard in that 8-bit form and along the way bring it into the world of a big epic, emotional film score,” he told the American outlet.

Kondo supported Tyler as the main composer for this role, as he told LA Times that the American musician is “the movie guy”.

“That being said,” Kondo clarified for the publication, “I did send over sample data for music from games that I thought might be appropriate to work into different scenes, and I was confident Brian would use that to support the music in the movie.

“I didn’t give any specific instructions — ‘Use this game music here’ — rather just provide a list of things I thought might work in the movie and I let him take control.”

Listen to the Classic FM Video Game Music playlist on Global Player here

Superstars - (The Super Mario Bros. Movie OST)

Who is The Super Mario Bros. Movie composer, Brian Tyler?

A ‘movie guy’, Tyler certainly is. The American composer has had a meteoric rise to fame over the last two decades, thanks to his involvement in several successful blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 and Crazy Rich Asians.

The Harvard-educated composer is also famed for having arranged the newest version of the Universal Pictures logo fanfare, which was originally written by Jerry Goldsmith.

Tyler’s distinctive writing has earned him multiple BAFTA and Emmy nominations, cemented him as a platinum-selling recording artist, and he has been a composer and conductor across over 100 different feature films.

Audience reviews of the Super Mario Bros. Movie music seem to mostly agree with Kondo, that Tyler was the right choice when choosing a composer for the film, with social media being washed with compliments about the score.

As well as the fanservice Tyler obviously delivers in his soundtrack, it should not go unnoticed that his score never simply reuses the beloved themes, but breathes a new life into each.

Scoring for a diverse range of orchestral instruments, and being heavily influenced by the work of John Williams, Tyler’s superstar score triumphs in taking the legendary music to the next level.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie was released in cinemas on 5 April 2023, and its soundtrack was released two days after on the Back Lot Music label.