The Super Mario Bros Movie’s weird music choices continue a 2023 trend

The Super Mario Bros Movie is finally here, and while reviews have been mixed, there is no denying that the film is a treat for fans as it is packed with Easter eggs from all the games in the Nintendo series.

As well as numerous visual references to the games, from a flashback to baby Mario and Luigi (who first appeared in 1985's Yoshi's Island) to Bowser's wedding outfit that's a nod to his Super Mario Odyssey costume, there are musical references for Mario devotees too.

Brian Tyler collaborated with long-time Mario composer Koji Kondo to incorporate many of the musical themes from the games into the film's score. So the music at Bowser's rock concert in the movie is from 2021's Bowser's Fury, while the notes you hear when Mario uses the raccoon power-up is from 1988's Super Mario Bros 3, where that power-up first appeared.

mario, the super mario bros movie
Nintendo and Universal Studios

However, amongst all the well-chosen Super Mario themes that pop up on the soundtrack as the action unfolds, there are a few odd music selections thrown in that just don't need to be there.

When you have all of Kondo's memorable Mario music to choose from, why on Earth does A-Ha's 1985 hit 'Take On Me' play during a madcap tour through Jungle Kingdom? And, even worse, why does Mario's training montage feature 'Holding Out For A Hero'?

That rock/pop song – made famous by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler – has been rocking its way into movies since it was first recorded for the Footloose soundtrack back in 1984.

It's already been in Shazam 2: Fury Of The Gods this year in an early scene where the teen superheroes try to save people on a collapsing bridge, and it has become a lazy choice for filmmakers as a needle drop whenever anyone does anything remotely brave in a movie.

bonnie tyler
Gie Knaeps - Getty Images

One reason it's a popular pick is, of course, that it is so recognisable and has memorable (or is that memorably bad?) lyrics such as: 'Where's the streetwise Hercules, to fight the rising odds?'

Those daft lyrics have worked well in some movies (don't get us wrong, we don't hate the song and Bonnie Tyler rocks – it's just it's been used way too much).

They're spot-on for the scene in Footloose where Kevin Bacon's character is involved in a chicken race on tractors (and he's no hero – the only reason he doesn't jump from his vehicle is because his shoelace gets trapped on the pedals).

And one of the best bits of Shrek 2 is Jennifer Saunders belting out the song as the not-so-lovely Fairy Godmother. (Sadly this version isn't on Spotify).

fairy godmother, shrek 2

There's even a fun nod to the song in Lethal Weapon 2 as Mel Gibson's tough cop Martin Riggs hears the song on TV (in an advert for a fragrance called Hero) just before his trailer home – complete with a bottle of the stuff on his kitchen counter – is blown to smithereens by the bad guys.

But that's more than enough uses of the song on movie soundtracks for the rest of time.

Did 'Holding Out For A Hero' also need to be in The Angry Birds Movie 2 during an action montage? Or in Loki (episode two of the first season if you really must hear it again), the Cate Blanchett/Bruce Willis movie Bandits, kids' comedy Short Circuit 2 or Jack Black's Nacho Libre? (And we're not even listing the numerous other TV shows and adverts it has been it because, well, we've had enough of it already).

It's also in the trailers for Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Netflix's Masters Of The Universe: Revelation, but luckily didn't make it onto either soundtrack.

You could argue that's not bad for a song that had reviews such as The AV Club's: "The lyrics are laughable, and the heavy-handed synths and piano riffs come dangerously close to cheese."

super mario bros movie trailer, donkey kong and mario
Nintendo and Universal Studios

And now it is in The Super Mario Bros Movie.

We get that the use of 'Holding Out For A Hero' and 'Take On Me', both released in the mid-'80s, could be a musical nod to the decade in which the Mario franchise was born. But – don't be shocked now – there are far more songs from the '80s that could have been used and aren't as thunderingly obvious as these choices.

Of course, Illumination – the animation studio behind The Super Mario Bros Movie – have never been known to be subtle, with the Despicable Me ('Sweet Home Alabama', 'Bad' and, yes, 'Take On Me'), and Minions films ('My Generation' and 'Bad Moon Rising') mining the overused-song catalogue for all their movies.

At this point, we can only hope that The Super Mario Bros Movie is the last time that the words "It's gonna take a Superman to sweep me off my feet" is sung during a movie, and that Bonnie Tyler's bombastic hit definitely won't get dragged out from the clichéd-music archives again if there is a Super Mario Bros Movie 2.

The Super Mario Bros Movie is out now in cinemas.

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