Way Out Wednesday: “Donkey Kong”
This week’s Way Out Wednesday brings you that video game icon, Donkey Kong. This album gets credit for trying to give Donkey Kong a little backstory (as improbable as at might be). Interspersed through the story are some songs. We’ll feature some of the songs here, and I’ll do my best to fill you in on the story.
Here’s a catchy (and very ’80s) theme for DK himself. One note about the song: I don’t know whyit speeds up like that. The record isn’t warped (although some of the people involved with the record might be). I think it’s supposed to remind you of when the game gets faster and faster. Or the original version was warped when it was recorded and transferred to the record in the same condition. This is already more time than I’ve spent in years worrying about Donkey Kong.
The story opens with the circus coming to town with Donkey Kong as one of its attractions. He used to be part of the zoo, until the zoo closed down and he was sold to the circus. The circus truck passes by the old site of the zoo, now torn down. DK goes there, reminisces, and escapes from the circus truck to head to the construction site. This goes into a song called “The Climber,” which really has nothing whatsoever to do with DK himself. It could just as easily have been a song about Spider-Man.
A young lady named Pauline tries to stop him, whereupon he grabs her and takes her to the top of the construction scaffolding. The narrator explained that DK meant Pauline no harm. He just remembered her feeding him at the zoo. Yeah, right. The next song, sung by a Christopher Cross soundalike (Boy, I bet that was a lucrative business!) is called “On Top of the World.” Again, it really has nothing to do with Donkey Kong. It’s just some guy that sings, “I’ll never be the one to run because I’m sitting on top of the world.” If you understand what that means, let me know.
OK, now the story starts picking up. The narrator calls out to Mario (who delivers pizzas for a living and speaks in a cheesy Italian accent that would put Father Guido Sarducci to shame) to rescue Pauline, who also happens to be Mario’s pizza delivery girl. Mario would visit Donkey Kong at the zoo too, so the narrator knows that DK wouldn’t harm him. He goes to climb the scaffolding, whereupon the big ape throws barrels of oil down at Mario. According to the narrator, Donkey Kong just wants to play catch with Mario. Great advice there, Ms. Narrator! The singers tell Mario to “Jump Up,” which I guess was appropriate considering that that was about all he was able to do in the game. I also like the guy early on that shouts, “Hey! What’s going on?” in an incredibly annoying voice.
Well, as I’m sure you guessed, Mario saves Pauline and, to reward Donkey Kong, declares that the top of the building become a zoo for him. That’s just what the city needs: a two-ton gorilla living on the top twenty floors of a multi-story building. Can you say, “Lawsuit in the making”? Anyway, here’s the song the townspeople sing to Mario, their hero, where they try to rhyme “Mario” with “Smiley-o.” I do like the harmonies on the “M-A-R-I-O-Ki-Yay” part though.
So that’s the story of Donkey Kong. If you want the entire album it can be found here. I thought it was interesting how they tried their best to make Donkey Kong himself out to be just a poor misunderstood gorilla that was homesick for the zoo. That was never the impression I got from playing the game. How about you? And how come all cartoon Italians either make pizza or work for the Mafia? These questions will probably not be answered in the next “Way Out Wednesday”!