The Mortal Kombat theme song rules. Yes, the ’90s pop artifact is transcendentally cheesy, but it’s also the perfect pump-up jam for Sega showdowns and a movie based on video games based on movies about top martial artists heading to secret locations to punch each other into piles of red goo. The track wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, of course, without its standout lyric: A dude screaming “Mortal Kombat!” just before the techno beat drops in earnest.
Slate got in touch with actor Kyle Wyatt, the man responsible for yelling the line, for an interview about how someone ends up immortalized as the preeminent supernatural-fighting-tournament announcer of all time. The very first question gets right to the heart of the matter. Slate asks: “So you are the guy who yells “Mortal Kombat!” in the Mortal Kombat theme song, right?” to which Wyatt replies, “Oh, yeah.”
Wyatt didn’t actually take part in recording the song itself—the theme, which is titled “Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat),“ was written by Belgian group The Immortals and samples his appearance in a commercial for the home release of the first Mortal Kombat game. Wyatt says the advertisement was one of the first he ever shot after moving to New York City from Longview, Texas, and that he “didn’t know if it was going to be a short or a commercial or a game.” Wyatt was told to yell the game’s title “from the top of your lungs”—as if, as he was instructed, “you are summoning the darkest demons in your body”—which he did a few times before nailing it.
“I know they pitched it down for the song and did all sorts of variations of it,” Wyatt says. “But that’s me, bro.” He didn’t know what Mortal Kombat was or why he was directed to yell those words (“It was a gig. I was able to pay my rent that month”) and only learned it was sampled in The Immortals’ track when the 1995 movie and ’97 sequel were released. When he finally learned how his scream was used, Wyatt responded, “That’s cool.” He also says he has to tell his friends who play Mortal Kombat, “Go to IMDb. That is me, bro” before they believe that he’s the man behind the iconic sample.
While talking about the upcoming new Mortal Kombat movie, Wyatt says that his yell “might sound a little bit different after almost 30 years” but that he “still [has] all the same energy, brother.” He’s asked if he’d give an example of his current scream and the interview ends with him doing it into the phone before stating, “I’m going to pay for that one tomorrow.”
Read the rest of the interview for more.
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