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Teens are using Mario Kart music to finish last-minute homework

It’s anxiety-inducing, and that’s the point

Isabelle driving a car in Mario Kart 8 for Switch. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

When people think about tunes meant to help you study and focus, the first thing that might come to mind are the relaxing tunes of lo-fi beats. But when the clock is ticking and you’ve got an essay due in the morning that you haven’t even started, “chill” may be the last thing you want.

This might explain why, in late October, a TikTok of a woman hunched over a computer as the fast-paced tunes of Mario Kart boom overhead has gone viral, with well over a million likes on the video platform. “My stress levels went [up] but so did my word count,” the caption reads.

To be more specific, the song appears to be what plays when you use an invincibility star in Mario Kart. While the item is active, the music shifts to highlight both your newfound power as well as its limited-time status. You are meant to try and make the most of it as fast as you can, which is why it lends itself so well to a stressful situation like pulling an all-nighter or busting out a multi-page essay.

“I’m totally doing this,” the top comment on the TikTok says. “WHY IS THIS SO SMART,” another exclaims.

Consequently, Mario Kart music in general has seen a surge on platforms like Spotify, according to chart trackers. What’s curious is that none of the uploads on any sites, whether YouTube or Spotify, are Nintendo-official. There is now a huge demand for something that the Japanese company is not providing.

On social media, a cavalcade of teenagers are saying that they are trying the method out, or reporting how using Mario Kart music is helping them finish their homework.


“Guys listening to mario kart music while ur working IS SO EFFECTIVE i’ve been doing work for two hours straight & it felt like 30 mins this is magic,” another tweet says.

“I just wrote 600 words out of my 1000 [word] essay in half an hour, this shit really works,” another Twitter user says, in reference to Mario Kart music’s effectiveness.

Most tweets seem to agree on one thing: Mario Kart music helps you put words on the page faster. Are those words any good? Hard to say, but quality may be beside the point when you just want to get a draft on the table.

Polygon spoke to one 19-year-old student, cosplaybysab, who recently tweeted about using Mario Kart melodies to complete a 1,000-word essay for her mythology class. According to cosplaybysab, the ditty helped her write 500 words in less than half an hour.

While many are jumping in on the trend now, for her, Mario Kart’s effectiveness is nothing new — she’s been a gamer long enough to know video game music.

“I’ve actually been using Mario Kart / fast Nintendo music for years and it works for all of my classes really!!” she said over Twitter message. In the past, she says she has also used Kirby music as well as dubstep to get in the right mindset to crank out words.

The synergy between video game music and productivity makes sense, as many tracks are specifically constructed to help put players in the zone while doing repetitive in-game tasks. This just happens to be one of the more stressful choices one could make, and accordingly, it’s not a method that works for everyone.

In cosplaybysab’s case, she doesn’t know whether or not her mythology essay got a good grade yet. But she’s very happy that more people are discovering the magic of video game music paired with homework.

“People deserve to get good grades and finish work fast!” she said.

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