Every now and again, I’m reminded that geekiness is way cooler than anyone could imagine.
I had the good fortune to be born as a millennial. The 80s and 90s are currently revered as a golden age of pop culture in and of themselves and as the touchstone of current pop culture. Let me tell you, it was a great time to be a kid. Video games, cartoons, extreme sports, Chuck E. Cheese and Discovery Zone, defiant attitudes, burning a hole in the ozone layer with aerosol hair products…there will never be another era like it. I maintain that the 80s and 90s actually existed in a separate timeline and they accidentally crossed over into our boring reality. Nothing was as definitive about this time, though, as the music. This was the golden age of MTV as well. Music videos first really entered our culture then and music, while always important to humanity, took on unique sounds not replicated since. I’m talking about the sound of new jack swing. What is new jack swing? It is a fusion style of music dominant in the late 80s and early 90s that mixed rhythm and blues with hip-hop at a time when R&B balladeers and hip-hop rappers were worlds apart. Why do I bring up new jack swing? Because not only did it have the illest beats but also because there’s been nothing like it before or since. R&B and hip-hop went their separate ways again, but for that one shining moment of the 80s and 90s, new jack swing was the thing. And everyone was in on this.
Almost assuredly, if you are reading this, you have played a Mario Bros. game. Whether it was on the NES or your smartphone, you know the world’s most famous plumber One of Mario’s lesser known titles, Mario Teaches Typing, came out in 1992 for computers. I remember this as a particularly exciting discovery when it came to my elementary school. It was a fairly standard instructional program to teach children familiar with Mario how to type. Honestly, though, Mario Teaches Typing would be a strange little quirk collecting dust in my memories were it not for chancing upon a video review of the program by YouTuber Brutalmoose. In it, Brutalmoose cracks wise at some of the sillier and stranger aspects of the program. Nothing was more unexpected than finding that the CD-ROM version of Mario Teaches Typing includes a four minute new jack swing song called “Practice Makes Perfect.”
There’s no real reason I can discern to explain “Practice Makes Perfect” existing. I can’t fathom who thought this was a good idea. 1992 was a strange year. On paper, this sounds preposterous: a rap song about improving your typing skills? This should be in the barrel of bad Mario media along with everything about the Super Mario Bros. movie. Yet it isn’t. In fact, it’s good – better than stuff on the Top 40 today! Give it a listen with the embedded video below and tell us what you think about it!
Fun fact: Mario Teaches Typing was developed by Interplay Entertainment. If that name’s familiar to you, you might remember it as the company that first made the Fallout series. Interplay has gone through many ups and downs in its time. Other highlights include creating the Baldur’s Gate franchise that BioWare developed, getting thrown in with Titus Software of Superman 64 fame, and closing the doors on BlueSky Software. All other highlights pale in comparison to commissioning a rap on practicing typography.