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‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Is The Latest Film To Rely On One Of Pop Culture’s Most Overused Needle Drops

So much of the worry about The Super Mario Bros. Movie before the film came out was about Chris Pratt and his Mario voice surrounding like, well, Chris Pratt. It turns out: he did fine! He wasn’t the Oscar-worthy MVP (that was always going to be Jack Black, and it was), but he wasn’t the low point of the otherwise fun animated movie. No, that would be the use of a certain song during the scene where Mario and Peach are in the Jungle Kingdom.

The time has come to shut the door on “Take on Me” by a-Ha.

As explained by Henry Gilbert of the Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts, “Drivin’ Me Bananas,” a better, more Mario appropriate song, was swapped out to make room for the overplayed 1980s hit. “No joke, this awesome piece of music isn’t in the movie,” he tweeted. “It was cut to instead play ‘Take On Me.’ That obvious song choice was one of the most painfully lazy moments in the film, and it’s even more annoying knowing they previously had a great score it replaced.”

The scene works much better with “Drivin’ Me Bananas.”

A note to studio executives, soundtrack producers, and 1980s-loving film editors everywhere: it’s 2023. Can’t we be done with “Take on Me”? It’s a fine song and all, but it’s been overused to the point of exhaustion. Since 2018, “Take on Me” has been heard in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, The Last of Us (to be fair, it served a narrative purpose there), something called My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Love Island, The Goldbergs, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Single Parents, Bumblebee, Riverdale, America’s Got Talent, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, Beat Shazam, Deadpool 2, Ash vs. Evil Dead, and Antiques Road Trip. Antique is right — at least Bones and All had the guts to use a different a-ha song.

“Take on Me,” originally released in 1984 and re-recorded in 1985, wasn’t always a cliché, however. It had to start somewhere. According to IMDb, the first use of the song in a scripted TV show or movie was… Beavis and Butt-Head! It’s supposedly in season two’s “The Butt-Head Experience,” but the episode isn’t available anywhere online. The streaming model works again.

(There’s also a compilation album called The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience with songs from Nirvana, Megadeth, and White Zombie. Let’s replace every “Take on Me” with “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”)

If Beavis and Butt-Head doesn’t technically count (they are just watching and commenting on the music video, after all), the first non-diegetic “Take on Me” needle drop is 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank, the John Cusack assassin movie with a score from Joe Strummer. So if you want to blame anyone for the exhausting use of “Take on Me” in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, blame the lead singer of The Clash (please do not do this, he didn’t pick the soundtrack).

As for the best use of “Take on Me”: to paraphrase Steven Yeun in Nope, Kattan crushed it.