I meant to blog a couple of weeks ago about an excellent band I saw at a small local venue—The Advantage. Their hook is that they exclusively play covers of old 8-Bit Nintendo game songs. (The NES Advantage, recall, was an old-school Nintendo joystick.) It sounds like a gimmick or a novelty act, but they actually are doing pretty sick, extremely funky arrangements of those vaguely-remembered tunes. (Sometimes you squint for a second and exclaim… oh, yeah! The boss music from Mega Man! or Oh, the Super Mario 2 first level! Other times you know you’ve heard it a thousand times but can’t quite place it.)
Beyond pure aesthetic enjoyment, I find the concept interesting because what they’re doing is almost certainly, strictly speaking, illegal. Presumably the companies that made those games—the ones that are still around, anyway—still hold copyrights to those songs. But, as with revamps of classic ’80s computer games, they’re salvaging and building upon creative works that would otherwise be inert. Fortunately, they’ve either managed to fly under the lawyers’ radar or—less likely, but hope springs eternal—the companies have realized that it’s bad PR and bad business to squelch creative fan communities.