The steelpan, more commonly known as the steel drum, is a percussion instrument originating from Trinidad & Tobago. The steel drum is just that - a steel drum with an open lid, with multiple concaves that the pannist (the name for a steelpan/steel drum player) hits with mallets to play notes.
The steel drum is commonly used to play catchy and fun tunes in real life, particularly in the calypso style, and that often translates into fiction. Steel drums will often be used for upbeat background music.
Since the steel drum comes from the Caribbean islands, it is often associated with tropical places. Because of that, in fiction, you're likely to hear steel drums in island, jungle, ocean, and especially beach settings. This means that in video games, they'll likely be used in Palmtree Panic and Under the Sea levels.
- Foxtrot: One arc has Roger take the family to the Carribeany Resort, a hotel more than a thousand miles away from any ocean. Roger is the only one not to see past the Tourist Trap nature of the place, and when he asks his wife if she wants to go to a steel drum concert, argues that it isn't fake because it's a real guy playing the synthesizer. Who'd just hit the "bagpipes" setting.
- Death in Paradise: The theme song is full of bright horns and steel drums to better sell the place the series is set on rather than the subject matter (which is murders being committed on the island).
- In The Office (US), Michael, who just came back from a trip to Sandals, Jamaica with his girlfriend Jan, is reminiscing in his office playing the titular riff from The Merrymen's "Feeling Hot Hot Hot" on a steel drum.
- Downplayed in "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys, where the steel drum is mostly percussion, in the background of the multilayered mix,note , but the first verse ends on the lyrics "We'll be falling in love / to the rhythm of a steel drum band" and there's a big steel drum hit in the middle of the second verse.
- Seth Everman posted a video where he tests out the sounds on a keyboard by playing Toto's "Africa" in different styles. For the genre simply labelled "Jamaican", Everman uses the "steelpan" setting on the keyboard.
- In "Beachfront Celebration" by Kevin MacLeod, the melody is handed off from a jazzy piano to steel pans to mariachi trumpets, then a combination of all three.
- Noisestorm's "Crab Rave" uses a steel drum-esque sound for its catchy, grooving main melody. The music video features dozens of crabs dancing on a tropical island.
- Treasure Trove Cove from Banjo-Kazooie prominently features steel drums in it's melody, as does its remix in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
- Golden Sun: The Lost Age: The tropical Apojii (Garapas in Japanese) Islands (standing in for the Fiji / Galapagos Islands) use steel drums in their BGM.
- In HuniePop, steel drums dominate the theme for sunny Turtle Beach.
- Kirby's Epic Yarn's remix of Ice Cream Island uses steel drums for part of the main melody to fit the tropical level Meta Melon Isle.
- Jazz Jackrabbit: The soundtrack of the tropical levels Exoticus features steel drums.
- Romancing Saga 3: The theme of Great Arch, a summer resort town located on a sandy beach, uses steel pans for the main melody.
- Sea World Tycoon: The main menu theme features steel drums.
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles: The music for Angel Island Zone has a steel drum playing part of the melody (or rather, the best approximation of a steel drum sound that the Genesis sound chip can synthesize) befitting a tropical island jungle stage. It's slightly less fitting for the second half, where the jungle gets napalmed and becomes a raging forest fire.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story prominently features steel drums in the melody for Plack Beach.
- The main themes of both Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64 and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour are played on steel drums and set an upbeat mood for the games.
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!!: The music for the tracks Peach Beach and Daisy Cruiser, which take place on a beach and a cruise ship respectively, have steel drums playing the main melody, accompanied by guitar, maracas, and drums.
- Most Mario Party games have one board whose background music utilises steel drums:
- 1: Yoshi's Tropical Island
- 2: Pirate Land
- 4: Koopa's Seaside Soirée
- 5: Undersea Dream
- 6: Castaway Bay
- 8: Goomba's Booty Boardwalk
- Tropical levels in all four New Super Mario Bros. games, as well as the map theme for World 3 in DS and Sparkling Waters in U.
- Super Mario All-Stars: The swingy overworld theme from Super Mario Bros. 3 is remixed to have steel drums play the melody.
- Super Mario 64 is a notable subversion since its resident water levels, while still employing steel drums as the primary instrument, are foggy and gloomy, leading to a more melodic tune.
- Super Mario Sunshine: Gelato Beach has a relaxing tune on steel drums and saxophone.
- Beach levels in Super Mario 3D World.
- Animaniacs (2020): In "Warners Unbound," when the Warners are travelling to an island for a vacation, a steel drum rendition of the show's theme song plays in the background.
- Tom and Jerry: In the Gene Deitch short "Calypso Cat", the titular duo and Tom's love interest for the episode arrive via cruise to a Carribean island, where a musician cat plays a funky beat on the steel drum. Unfortunately for Tom, his girlfriend falls in love with the Calypso cat and leaves Tom for him.
- The "Marge in Chains" episode of The Simpsons has Mayor Quimby giving a news conference from his office proclaiming to the public that he has postponed his trip to the Bahamas due to the flu outbreak...only for The Reveal to show he is there as a steel drum player walks through the shot.