Batshit Bad To Simply Perfect: We Ranked K.K. Slider Songs From ‘Animal Crossing’
This one's for you, 'Bubblegum K.K.' stans.
Forget your regular old popstars — K.K. Slider, the dog from Animal Crossing, is one of the most inventive, chameleon-like musicians that we have.
Slider has appeared in every single one of the games from the very beginning of the franchise. He’s as key to the Animal Crossing experience as planting fruit, and, y’know, debt.
In the latest game, New Horizons, he plays an even bigger role than before. He’s a kind of living, breathing mark of approval: when you get to a certain stage of acclaim, he comes and plays a concert at your island, attracting new visitors in the process. You haven’t made it until the dog with a guitar has christened your humble home.
There’s no way to understate that kind of cultural impact. So, in honour of the most beloved canine singer-songwriter in the world, we’re ranking some of his most boundary-pushing and beloved songs, from dogshit, to dog-gone brilliant.
#40. ‘Mountain Song’
This is bullshit. If K.K. played this at my island, I’d burn my village to the ground and sow the ground with salt.
#39. ‘K.K. Calypso’
This one sounds rushed and messy, totally lacking the wit that K.K. usually brings to his projects. A shame.
#38. ‘K.K. Bazaar’/’K.K. Casbah’
Listen, every artist has embarrassing cultural missteps in their career, even K.K.. Best to pretend these ones never happened.
#37. ‘K.K. Ska’
#36. ‘K.K. Dixie’
Does the existence of this song imply some kind of Animal Crossing civil war?
#35. ‘K.K. Gumbo’
Couldn’t tell you what the hell is going on with this one, to be perfectly honest.
#34. ‘K.K. Rock’
They say that rock gave up its place in the commercial sun long ago, and this is the song that proves it. There’s just no invention here — it’s a song written by committee, designed to be played over the top of derivative car adverts. Sad!
#33. ‘Lucky K.K.’
#32. ‘K.K. Samba’/’K.K. Mambo’
A vain attempt to reproduce the glories of ‘K.K. Salsa’, ‘K.K. Samba’ and ‘K.K. Mambo’ are both the sound of an artist chasing his own creative highs. Reductive.
#31. ‘K.K. Safari’
Big hmm on this one, K.K..
#30. ‘K.K. Oasis’
Tbh, I’m just disappointed this isn’t a ‘Wonderwall’ cover.
Sure, it’s basically a rip-off of the sound pioneered by Brian Wilson et. al, but you’ve gotta appreciate the things K.K. does with his voice on this one.
#28. ‘Cafe K.K.’
Akin to the work of Bowie’s Berlin period, ‘Cafe KK’ is the sound of a popstar taking his talents to darker, stranger places. Does it always work? No. But is it all the better for its ambition? Absolutely.
#27. ‘K.K. Parade’ / ‘K.K. March’
Two of the most functional tunes in K.K.’s back catalogue, ‘K.K. Parade’ and its sister song, ‘K.K. March’, were clearly written for ceremonial purposes. But only an artist with K.K.’s breadth and imagination could write such songs and have them somehow play in pretty much any context, both full of bubbly life and wit.
#26. ‘K.K. Groove’
Now we’re talking. Pure, antic invention, full of the light and life that defines the best of KK’s work.
#25. ‘K.K. Tango’
#24. ‘King K.K.’
K.K.’s always been skilled when it comes to self-aggrandisement — on this tune, he sings all of his own praises with more gusto and intelligence than most performers manage their whole careers.
#23. ‘K.K. Salsa’
An entire way of being, transformed into a series of atonal yips and barks. Devastatingly powerful.
#22. ‘K.K. Faire’
As smooth as satin, as rich as honey.
#21. ‘The K Funk’
Probably the most energetic song in K.K.’s back catalogue, this one rattles around your head for hours after it’s done.
#20. ‘K.K. House’
Play this at the club and watch the whole place light the fuck up.
#19. ‘Agent K.K.’
Haunted and haunting.
Pre-dates the melodic invention of Mac DeMarco by about ten years. Proof that KK’s always been a gamechanger.
#17. ‘K.K. Milonga’
Opening with perhaps the most dramatic introductory bars of K.K.’s entire career, ‘K.K. Milonga’ is a vicious, antic piece of work; like a piece of tarpaulin, whipping around in the wind.
#16. ‘Aloha K.K.’
#15. ‘K.K. Sonata’
Evidence of K.K.’s sheer, uncontested technical skills, this is a little show-offy, but no less impressive. Drink it up.
#14. ‘K.K. Synth’
Like Brian Eno at his most abstract and vague, ‘K.K.Synth’ is the kind of song that you fall into, spending the rest of your life exploring its strange contours.
#13. ‘K.K. Country’
Orville Peck, eat your heart out.
#12. ‘K.K. Flamenco’
At once both traditional and breathlessly cutting edge, ‘K.K. Flamenco’ is an old style given new, nonsensical words.
#11. ‘K.K. Moody’
Listen to this song with your eyes closed and just imagine K.K. going to fucking town on those goddamn ivories.
#10. ‘K.K. Adventure’
‘Cinematic’ isn’t the word that you’d usually apply to the work of K.K. Slider. But this track, one of his best, conjures up entire worlds and stories, all in the space of two brief minutes.
#9. ‘K.K. Disco’
Indebted to the white velour suits of the Bee Gees, ‘K.K. Disco’ is a downright bop, all arranged around one of the most energised melodies of K.K.’s whole career. Essential.
#8. ‘Go K.K. Rider’
This might be K.K.’s best-known work, the song that accompanies the entrance of the Animal Crossing villagers in Super Smash Bros. So take it as a sign of his sheer talent as a songwriter that it doesn’t even appear in his top five best tunes.
#7. ‘To The Edge’
So we all agree K.K. is saying ‘Now me’, over and over again, right?
#6. ‘Rockabilly K.K.’
The Stray Cats could never.
#5. ‘I Love You’
An aching dose of pure feeling, ‘I Love You’ might be the sweetest, most simple song in the K.K. back catalogue. But what it lacks in the avant-garde, it surely makes up for in terms of pure, raw emotion. Sing it to your beloved, and watch them melt.
#4. ‘K.K. Jongara’
About thirty seconds in, K.K. Slider does this chuckle that seems to say, ‘Get ready to have your whole mind blown’. And then he goes on and blows your mind.
#3. ‘K.K. Metal’
Don’t ever let it be said that KK Slider is one-note. ‘K.K. Metal’ is a complete tonal left-turn, from its brooding opening to its crashing and obsidian-black crescendo.
#2. ‘K.K. Cruisin”
Truly effortless, ‘K.K. Cruisin” is a work of gentle invention. It’s the sound of an artist picking up their guitar, leaning back, and singing whatever comes to their mind. If anything, we as a culture don’t rate its impact enough.
#1. ‘Bubblegum K.K.’
A devastating, emotional croon, ‘Bubblegum K.K.’ combines the breathless pop intelligence of The Beatles with the wisdom of The Beach Boys. K.K. never topped this one — it has become his signature song, a demonstration of every one of his unique talents. Long may it — and he — run.
Joseph Earp is a staff writer at Junkee and KK Slider stan. He tweets @Joseph_O_Earp.