So you collect three or more stars, enter the door that leads you to the first snow-themed world, and jump into the painting. The first thing you see is a little house-looking structure topped off by a large chimney. Five coins tantalizingly hover above it. Most likely, you’re going to follow them down.
Super Mario 64
This jaunty tune is what greets you as a snowy slide comes into view.
I am fully aware that this seems like the wrong choice for a Super Mario 64 holiday song. Yes, this song is used plenty of times for things not even remotely winter-themed. Yes, there is a song specifically for the winter levels. Cool, Cool Mountain is not even the first time the song shows up; the koopa race in Bob-omb Battlefield has that distinction.
Which I COMPLETELY forgot, by the way, until while in the middle of writing this thing. I genuinely thought, in my recollection of the game, that the Slip Slidin’ Away star in Cool, Cool Mountain was the real first appearance of the song. Probably because it was the moment where the song’s potential was realized to its fullest, and thus could be truly memorable and definitive in a way that the koopa race simply could not.
I think that just says it all right there. This ain’t a climb-the-mountain song, it’s absolutely a slide-on-down song! It’s been inseparable with winter in my mind ever since.
“Slider” is one of multiple variations of the “Super Mario 64 Main Theme”; this is the hectic one for all those big-risk, big-thrill, time-sensitive moments. That makes it especially fitting for a guardrails-free slide segment where failure means the loss of one of Mario’s lives. Even more when you go down the same track again while racing a giant penguin.
This is also, in many ways, the country version—hell, the bluegrass version—of the theme (or at least as close as Nintendo 64 sound chip instruments could get to it), with all the rapid-fire banjo and fiddles thrown in. That may sound utterly absurd on paper; in practice, everything sounds so fun and joyful. I think the detail that fills out the whole arrangement, and seals the deal on a satisfying composition, however, is the whistling counterpoint laced throughout the track.
It’s also got not only a whistle solo, but also an epic barn-burning fiddle solo that even Johnny would feel intimidated by. Scored by Koji “The Mario Composer” fucking Kondo. So that’s pretty amazing, too.
RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is usually a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime. This week, however, running from Sunday December 3 to Saturday December 9, is a daily rundown of favorite songs related to the holiday season.