Geek Trivia

Which 1980s Video Game’s Theme Song Is Actually A Courtship Folk Song?

Super Mario Bros.
Rad Racer
Adventure Island
What Was Google's Original Name?

Answer: Tetris

The theme song for the wildly popular 1980s video game Tetris isn’t just catchy (we know some of you are humming it right now just thinking about it), it’s also an old 19th century Russian folk song.

Although the 8-bit theme so many of us fondly remember from hours spent playing Tetris had no lyrical accompaniment, the original song did. The song, called “Korobeiniki” is based on a poem of the same name by Russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov from 1861. Korobeiniki were peddlers who sold their wares from trays in pre-revolutionary Russia, and the song is concerned with the interplay between a street peddler and a girl he meets. Their bartering and exchange of goods is a thinly veiled metaphor for courtship.

The tune and the tale told alongside it proved popular and the song endured as a favorite Russian folk song for generations until it found its way to the ears of Westerners via the popularity of Tetris.