Halftime Leisure

The Weekly List: Keep calm and Mario Kart

November 17, 2020

Illustration by Jacob Bilich

The vast wilds of TikTok are a treasure trove of distraction. If you are at least vaguely familiar with the application, you know how it goes: you’re contemplating working on something or other, checking your phone quickly before finally sitting down to work. You scroll through a page or two on your home screen, satisfied with the lack of red notification bubbles hovering beside each icon. Then, just as you are about to put the device down, a subconscious force compels you to tap that mulitcolored music note. A complete and utter disaster.

But wait—what if I told you that the For You Page was more than just an attention stealing black hole? What if it actually held the secret to the productivity you so desire?

You, my friend, are in luck. While the currents of the app have already flowed to the next trend, a brief moment in late October revealed the perfect solution to our procrastination: Mario Kart.

Consider; what is the music of Mario Kart designed to do? How is it meant to make you feel? That’s right—intensely focused, in the zone, and amped enough to get into a fist-fight with whoever threw that damn banana onto the racetrack. That sort of unbreakable attention is exactly what some of us need to stay on task and furiously type away at your workload until the early morning hours. And so, this playlist was born. 

1. “Coconut Mall,” Mario Kart Wii (2008)

An absolute banger of a track, and a classic tune for anyone who has ever fumbled a Wii wheel in their early-to-mid childhood. It’s not the most intense track here, but it gets the job done and is catchy enough to not numb your mind. Besides, who could resist that brass. 

2. “Mario Kart Stadium,” Mario Kart 8 (2014)

Though a recent addition to the series, don’t under-appreciate how much this track sets a tone. It’s exciting, it’s energetic, but it’s also upbeat and unmistakably joyous. And that’s before the closing guitar solo. A great pick-me-up to help you break out of that 2 a.m. writer’s block.

3. “Sherbet Land,” Mario Kart: Double Dash (2003)

A glittering tune for the winter season. While my younger self consistently drove into the entirely avoidable frozen lake on the right side of this course, this still remains one of my favorites. Beware giant snowman heads gliding along the road, but, otherwise, you should be good to go.

4. “Moo Moo Meadows,” Mario Kart Wii

Another classic, this track just beams with sunshine and freshly cut grass. Remember, no matter how much despair you may be in while hammering away at this essay, fret not—the banjo will carry you through to your destination. Just keep moo-ving.

5. “Battle Mode,” Super Mario Kart (1992)

This list was in desperate need of some retro picks, and so here we are. Eight years before I was even born, Mario was already burning rubber—and I’m here for it. Don’t underestimate the chiptune presentation, because this song will get stuck in your head if you’re not careful. Respect the series’ roots.

6. “Cloudtop Cruise,” Mario Kart 8

This one deserves a feature here for two reasons. First of all, this list needs some real energy, and this one delivers. Those drums do not stop. Those horns wait for nobody. And you need to get in gear or else you’ll be up all night. Secondly, if you’ve ever played Super Mario Galaxy (2007)—if you have not, you should—then you might recognize a little reprise around the 50 second mark that will make your day. Enjoy the ride.

7. “Mushroom Gorge,” Mario Kart Wii

This track will give you the energy to ricochet across large chasms by bouncing atop giant colorful mushrooms. Metaphorically. Remember you’re trying to get your work done, not actually play Mario Kart.

8. “Rainbow Road,” Mario Kart: Double Dash

Truly, there was no other option for the final slot on this list other than the one and only Rainbow Road. I’m particularly fond of this version, but choose any arrangement you feel fits as you process the flashbacks of swerving off road into the void of space. You may have come in last, but think about it this way: you finished the race, and that’s what’s most important.


John Woolley
is a college senior and Multimedia Executive Editor. Has "Big Ruth Energy," some say.

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