Soundtracks you didn't know were stolen

Since we’ve essentially spent this whole article adding insult to infringement, let’s look at a reversal of sorts. In this case the intro song from Top Gear actually came first, and was then ripped off by a popular band, Muse.

Muse - Bliss

Top Gear - Intro

Now people sample game music all the time, but usually it’s obvious, intentional, or attributed. To his credit, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy acknowledges he stole it, just from the wrong source, stating it reminded him “of some music I heard on some children’s music programme when I was five. I think I ripped it off that.” Wrong! But since you wrote “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” we’ll let it slide.

Okay, this was probably intentional. Hell, take into account the title screen and it’s damn near flagrant.

Parody, most likely. But noteworthy nonetheless, since not only were parodies like this scarce in the days of the NES, it also somehow escaped the dark eyes of the Sith Attorneys at the Lucas Empire.

John Williams - Indiana Jones Theme

A Boy and his Blob - Title Theme

Why exactly EarthBound (or Mother 2, as it’s known in Japan) hasn’t seen a proper stateside rerelease is the subject of rampant speculation. And rightly so, since Nintendo’s wholly unique role-playing parody of western culture buried itself firmly in the hearts of all who touched it. It damned sure isn’t an issue of quality when you stack it against the occasional crap that reaches the Wii’s Virtual Console. The fact that Ness, the game’s protagonist, appears throughout the Smash Bros series means Nintendo cares about the property, and a leaked ESRB rating implies US was at some point in the works.

But it was not to be. And it’s our belief the reason why lies within the game’s bizarrely beautiful soundtrack. Keiichi Suzuki cites John Lennon as an influence, but upon further examination, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Right out of the gate, the name screen loops a tune that should be immediately recognizable to Monty Python fans.

John Philips Sousa – The Liberty Bell March

EarthBound – Your Name, Please

Speaking of TV, the music that plays in Jackie’s Cafe is a wonderfully haunting mix of The Little Rascals/Our Gang theme (with a little Star Spangled Banner for good measure).

Good Old Days - The Little Rascals Theme

EarthBound - Jackie’s Cafe

EarthBound’s “Moonside Swing” seems to be a nearly verbatim sample from a song intro by The Cars’ Rick Ocasek.

Ric Ocasek - Keep On Laughin’

EarthBound – Moonside Swing

The Who’s opening swell should perk up the ears of anyone who owns Rock Band.

The Who -Won’t Get Fooled Again

EarthBound – The Sky Runner

How’s about a nod to Chuck Berry?

Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode

EarthBound - Franky

And to bring it back to game music, Earthbound even made the shortsighted decision to include music from a Namco game in Onett’s Arcade.

Xevious Music

EarthBound – Onett’s Arcade

Oh! and did we mention the billion or so Beatles references?

Above: Lord knows Apple Records would never sue anybody

Now whether you personally believe copyright has been violated is beyond the point. Sure EarthBound on VC seems like money on the table, but once you factor in hosting and emulation, even the flimsiest dispute would negate any profits with the legal paperwork alone. A damn shame, for sure. But if you still want to play it, let the internet be your guide…

May 13, 2009

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