My favorite part of Animal Crossing games is the unique music for every hour of the day. In New Horizons, the tracks appear after the island’s Resident Services building is upgraded, giving players 24 individual themes to enjoy.
A little bit of Ian Walker lore: I used to freelance as a music critic. It never paid the bills, but it was a fun way to flex my writing muscles. So, as an ode to my previous work and my love for Animal Crossing music, here’s my definitive ranking of the hourly themes from New Horizons, along with micro-reviews for each.
24. “10 AM”
I can’t think of anything to say about “10 AM.”. The song isn’t bad—nothing in Animal Crossing is, really—but sometimes mediocrity can be the greatest sin.
23. “12 PM”
“12 PM” is the perfect representation of a sunny day. I hate sunny days.
22. “2 PM”
There’s an excellent, plodding bassline at the heart of “2 PM,” but it’s obscured by a whiny melody that gets under my skin.
21. “9 AM”
I really love the bongos that kick in as the song gets going. However, I feel like “9 AM” should have more get up and go due to the time of day it occupies.
20. “6 AM”
“6 AM” is a sleepy little track that’s a bit too repetitive for my liking.
19. “8 AM”
The “let’s get this bread” theme of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. “8 AM” feels like a royalty-free song you might hear between scenes of your favorite reality show.
18. “8 PM”
This song is just a little monotonous. That might be because “8 PM” is the song I hear the most while playing New Horizons, and I’m just bored of it at this point.
17. “4 PM”
There isn’t much meat on the bones of “4 PM.” The keyboard melody ranges from sounding like a nice clarinet solo to overwhelming the acoustic guitar chords and bassline.
16. “3 AM”
Animal Crossing games always have one weird track that personifies the inherent oddity of the early morning hours. “3 AM” might not be as strange and out of place as, say, “2 AM” from the original Animal Crossing, but its horns stand out among the quiet tracks that surround it.
15. “4 AM”
“4 AM” ranks in the middle because it’s a nice song, but being up at 4 AM sucks.
14. “7 AM”
“7 AM” has a nice little drumroll every so often that makes me happy, but it’s otherwise unimpressive.
13. “3 PM”
Animal Crossing: New Horizons incorporates very similar elements into its hourly music, with most featuring acoustic guitar and keyboard. “3 PM” bucks that trend with some trumpet, which helps it stand out and leaves me wanting more.
12. “10 PM”
The whiny keyboard melody in “10 PM” turns me off what would be a fantastic song with which to wind down the day otherwise. Everything else melds together very nicely.
11. “6 PM”
“6 PM” sees another unique instrument in what, I think, is an accordion. Very subtle and soothing.
10. “5 PM”
I think I love “5 PM” because it feels kind of like a funky version of an Elton John song. Its punctuated piano chords provide a nice rhythm that drives the rest of the instruments.
9. “9 PM”
“9 PM” feels like creeping through the darkness in search of one last butterfly.
8. “11 PM”
The soft percussion and twinkling keys in “11 PM” remind me of fireflies.
7. “7 PM”
You know that melancholy feeling as the sun is going down and the day is coming to an end? “7 PM” perfectly captures that emotion.
6. “1 PM”
A great example of less being more, “1 PM” has a strong foundation in its alternating basslines.
“11 AM” feels like the closest thing Animal Crossing: New Horizons has to a main theme, at least in the hourly arrangements. It mixes the sleepiness of the morning hours with the hustle and bustle of the afternoon tracks to great effect.
A plodding blues-like track, “1 AM” injects a bit of soul into the early morning hours.
I had a hard time placing this song in relation “1 AM,” but I feel like “2 AM” deserves a bit of a nod thanks to its relaxed pace and percussion.
“12 AM” is a minimalist take on the themes of the rest of the tracks. It feels like the composers wrote a regular song for one of the daylight hours and took out every third note. I love how scaled back it feels compared to its fellow arrangements.
Every Animal Crossing: New Horizons song has something going for it, but “5 AM” is special. It combines a simple piano melody with droning ambience to create a rich tapestry. Listening to “5 AM” is almost like getting that first, wonderful smell of brewing coffee right as you wake up on the weekend.