The Animal Crossing series is one that houses plenty of charming idiosyncrasies, with one of the most prominent ones being how it has a resident musical maestro. He’s K.K. Slider, the canine singer-songwriter-composer with a discography as eclectic as the strength of his disregard for wearing clothes.
He is no mere afterthought, but rather is a major part of the world of Animal Crossing. You can get CD and record players for your house, and when you want to play music on them, you choose from K.K.’s many jams. He can even visit your town to play concerts’ worth of stripped-down acoustic versions of your favorite tunes. As I’m a total softie for anything that makes an effort to weave music into its identity, things like this do my heart especially good.
Certain songs have even become so iconic that these days, it’s impossible to think of an AC game without them. Something like “Bubblegum K.K.”, for example, which has had an especially strong presence these days as the fuel for so many social media memes and videos. Its top spot might even have a new challenger in the form of “K.K. Cruisin’”, which has seemed like a favorite recent candidate for cover versions—even an 18-minute, 48-musician behemoth—and perhaps not coincidentally is apparently the favorite song of recent fan favorite (to put it lightly) villager Raymond.
Both songs are really good. Excellent, even, when it comes to “K.K. Cruisin’”! But several months after the release of the latest game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I’d be happy to never hear either one of them again. It’s not even their fault; it’s just that after so much time on the internet, it can feel as if they’re the only K.K. songs to ever exist. The Animal Crossing version of radio overplay, as it were.
But K.K. Slider’s got, like, other songs, too, you know! Some of them are even pretty decent! Here are ten that I particularly dig, split across a few categories, to demonstrate.
Records worth playing on the living room studio system, or out in the open for your villager brethren to sing along to.
“K.K. D&B”: There’s a whole subset of K.K. Slider takes on dance and electronic genres—“K.K. House”, “K.K. Technopop”, “K.K. Disco”—but this one might be my favorite of the lot. Given the set of instruments in use, it can’t exactly go hard on the drums, so it wisely makes sure the atmosphere and vibe are spot-on. Those synths are choice.
“My Place”: In my game of ACNH, I am but a mere guest on my wife’s island. In her house, she’s got a room done up to look like a workshop, complete with toolboxes and DIY workbenches. Her song of choice for it? “My Place”, whose slow mechanical beat and chipper blips are such a perfect fit for a workshop environment, that I now think of it as the unofficial crafting theme song of the game.
“Stale Cupcakes”: A melancholically gorgeous ballad on the electric piano. Apparently inspired by the profound sadness of...not being able to fully enjoy one’s days-old dessert? I guess that makes this K.K. Slider’s “MacArthur Park”.
“Two Days Ago”: K.K. Slider may have a “MacArthur Park”, but he also has a “Strawberry Fields Forever” in his repertoire. Well, the intro of “Strawberry Fields”, at least. The rest of the song is actually more like “Flying”, that instrumental from The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. I like “Flying”! So mashing up “Flying” with a piece of “Strawberry Fields”? A pretty brilliant move, in my book.
“K.K. Fusion”: Quite possibly my single favorite K.K. Slider track. The host of Errant Signal seems to be of the same mind, for whatever that’s worth. That intro is killer, like it’s about to kick off the countdown to a Mario Kart race. The beat, rhythm, and basslines are legitimately groovy, a rare feat with the dinky instruments K.K. Slider always has to work with. It’s got catchy hooks for days. Each and every BAM! That five-note organ descent! The entirety of the chorus! Every individual second is totally kickass; it fits more oomph within 53 seconds than many lesser songs can manage within minutes’ worth of music.
“K.K. Calypso”: This was my first song purchase in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. So it’s always going to have a special place in my heart. Sounds best—most like its truest, most authentic self—when played over a shitty tape deck.
Some K.K. Slider songs only reach their highest potential K.K. trades in the studio trickery for just himself, his guitar, and his weird nasally voice.
“Aloha K.K.”: The studio recording exudes some lax tiki bar/cruise ship vibes, in that artificial kind of way. K.K.’s live bootlegs, accompanied by just a single guitar and moving to the gentle sway of a swing rhythm like the waves on a tranquil beach, make those vibes even better by giving them warmth and humanity.
“K.K. Parade”: The carnival romp original is like going through a run-down fun house with food poisoning. The acoustic rendition is far more appetizing. The melody turns out to be rather playful when sung instead of played on a churning organ!
“K.K. Flamenco”: I quite like the intensity of the original version—a short 21 seconds that does so much in so little time. But when K.K. takes it out on the road, he turns it into a sprawling epic (well, as sprawling as two minutes can allow), complete with an entirely new chorus, multiple key changes, and even an ultra-dramatic tempo shift. Go off, king.
“K.K. Jongara”: To anyone that doubts if K.K. Slider genuinely has the chops—if he’s more than just a studio creation—I point you to this barnburner of a solo performance, which is so fantastic that it’s my second favorite song from him. It’s already superior to the fairly one-note original by fleshing it out with a chorus, but then he goes even further by putting his virtuoso skills at the forefront. He brings the rapid-fire singing. He unleashes the frenetic fretwork. He competes against himself by pitting his whistling against his guitar in a call-and-response challenge, Deliverance style. DO NOT doubt K.K.’s prowess.
Such is the conclusion to my shallow survey into the K.K. Slider repertoire. Yet even a look as cursory as that should make it evident that there is plenty about him to recommend, well beyond the biggest hits.
And to the K.K. fans out there, what are some of your top picks?