Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is creeping up behind us with a blue shell, ready to send us into a spiral toward our couches, so we thought this would be the perfect time to revisit some of our favorite music tracks from all of Mario Kart-dom. Whether you’re tearing around the track trying to reach first place or hoping you can avoid a red shell, there’s always the underlying beat of music to set the tone.
Yoshi Valley – Mario Kart 64
First on our list of best music tracks from Mario Kart is the soundtrack to Yoshi Valley, an iconic track from Mario Kart 64. For a lot of players, racing around this track could be extremely frustrating, but that was part of the appeal. After hours of falling off the side, when you managed to complete a perfect run, you felt absolutely unstoppable.
Until you actually managed to perfect this circuit, the soundtrack was there to taunt you, to grind into your ears and tell you it couldn’t be done. However, as soon as you managed to miss the giant Yoshi egg while all your friends smashed into it, this song turned into your own personal taunt against them. There was nothing sweeter than poorly mimicking this song to spite your friends.
Koopa City – Mario Kart 7
Synth, electronic, and all manner of technology-driven tunes converge in Mario Kart 7’s Koopa City course to create an unforgettable blend of music. This song takes us back to playing old school Nintendo games where it was all about imagining a technology-rich future. The dark and moody landscape of Koopa City fuses with the pulsing track to create a heart-racing experience. Who could forget leaping off the side of the course, activating your wings and using the fans to glide across the gap, with nothing below you but open air and further below that, the strobing city limits.
Rainbow Road – Mario Kart 64
This list of best music tracks in Mario Kario had to have Rainbow Road in some form. There was no getting away from it. With all the different variations out there, we thought it best to go with one of the most iconic iterations of the classic Rainbow Road soundtrack, the one present in Mario Kart 64.
With a mixture of wind instruments, piano, and what sounds like a literal star shooting across the screen, the Rainbow Road music track from Mario Kart 64 is one piece that all fans will remember fondly. It never mattered whether you were trying for a daring jump across the void of space or keeping your wheels firmly planted to the course, because the gentle tunes offered comfort against the cold, harsh realities of Rainbow Road.
For one of the most infuriating and challenging courses in all of Mario Kart history, the music to Rainbow Road perfectly encapsulates a sense of relaxation and carefree bliss.
Toad’s Turnpike – Mario Kart 64
Before there was Burnout, there was Toad’s Turnpike in Mario Kart 64. Racing along a highway packed full of vehicles, the track pushed your karting skills to their limits as you attempted to pull off dangerous drifts between two buses. The only thing keeping you from spilling, aside from your skill, was the steady music.
With no jarring changes, the music track kept you laser-focused on the road in front of you. Most memorable is the wave-like synth notes that swept up and down at an even tempo, keeping your internal rhythm steady. This small note was often enough to keep you from careening off into another vehicle, but this ebbing and flowing crescendo wasn’t all that was on offer. Toad’s Turnpike music track also held an ethereal piano piece that, somehow, worked well with the synth tunes. Whatever the case, Toad’s Turnpike has one of the best music tracks in Mario Kart.
Shy Guy Falls – Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 brought to the series Shy Guy Falls, a twisting concoction of river rapids, board walks, and mountainous waterfalls, but more importantly a light and merry music track. The wind instruments paired perfectly with the strings to give a sense of the new frontier, with slight touches of Zelda-like exploration.
As you jetted down the river, jumping between logs and landing on the boost pads, the tempo of the music would push you along, calling you to explore this breathtaking new track. There’s something special about driving along the cliff-face with our kart in the clouds as the music urges us to take it all in.
DK Mountain – Mario Kart: Double Dash
Mario and Donkey Kong go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly, and no list of best Mario Kart music tracks would be complete without at least one Donkey Kong-inspired piece. The DK Mountain music track from Mario Kart: Double Dash mixes the jungle theme of wooden xylophone with the environment that screams past.
With devilishly wicked twists and turns and a long-straight cannon shot that would make the fastest karter shake at the knees, the DK Mountain track, with its own theme song, remains one of the best additions to the series. The track was unfortunately short, so there was no choice but to play it repeatedly so we could listen to the DK-inspired tunes.
Koopa Troopa Beach – Mario Kart 64
Finally, rounding off our list of seven best music tracks in Mario Kart is Koopa Troopa Beach. This piece of music was the perfect supplement to the sunny beach track. The sweet Caribbean tunes, the tin drums, and the subtle whistling helped reduce the tension of a long night of karting.
Finishing on the beach was the perfect way to end the night, especially after the frustration of Yoshi Valley where friendships were potentially ruined. The beach, with its surf and sand, become home to some of the most memorable moments of Mario Kart. Skidding through the low-tide as the music track emphasised the chill nature of karting really hammered home the point that Mario Kart is just damn fun.
Mario Kart has some of the best music tracks for its genre, mixing a variety of themes to cater to all manner of styles. Sometimes a particular course’s song would match it in pace and emotion, while other times the song would eke out its own voice to oppose the stress of a race track.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is just around the bend in the track, and we can’t wait to see what pieces of music are on offer! What are your favorite Mario Kart music tracks?