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Donkey Kong Country 2’s Soundtrack Is A Perfect Mix Of Hyped Up And Zoned Out

Image: Nintendo / Rare / Kotaku
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Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we’re going to revisit some of the chillest gaming beats around: David Wise’s music for Donkey Kong Country 2.

Unlike 1994’s SNES Donkey Kong Country, whose mix of naturalistic themes and retro-swing jazz was a collaborative undertaking, David Wise (previously on Morning Music) composed the entire soundtrack for 1995’s Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (playlist / longplay / VGMdb) by himself, and it shows. The jazz and funk influences are all taken up a notch, while the ambient tracks go full ‘80s synth, like German electronica masters Tangerine Dream putting on a rave in the jungle.

Let’s listen:

Rare / Nintendo / GilvaSunner (YouTube)

You can chill to “Bayou Boogie” all day and vibe to “Disco Train” all night. The pulsating drama of “Flight of the Zinger” for a molten lava level is perfectly complemented by the clinking crystalic nostalgia of “In A Snow-Bound Land.” If Donkey Kong Country 2 were actually a coming-of-age tale about alienated youth rather than the acrobatic journey of two monkeys rescuing an ape, Wise would still have all the bases covered.

Forest Interlude” is probably still my favorite of these. Feels good, man:

Rare / Nintendo / GilvaSunner (YouTube)

The game also has plenty of classic bangers like “Funky the Main Monkey” and “School House Harmony,” which no doubt helped cement Funky Kong’s iconic status enough for him to get the call-up in Mario Kart 8. “Lost World Anthem” is also a top 10 all-time boss-world theme: sinister but amped up like yea, it’s time to strap in and beat this damn game now. But time and again it’s the ambient synth tracks, with their lowkey but defined beats, that steal the show.

Rare / Nintendo / GilvaSunner (YouTube)

Bramble Blast, aka “Stickerbush Symphony,” is melancholic and reflective enough to fall asleep to while contemplating all the roads not taken and yet still up-tempo enough to be a bop. The level the music backs itself is a nail-biting mess, but once you learn the route and let the flow take over it feels like surfing on hot coals without ever getting singed. Combined with the music it makes for one of the most transcendent platforming moments in the genre.

While I inject this one hour looped “Stickerbush Symphony” directly into my veins to take the edge off this week, let me know in the comments which Donkey Kong Country series track cools your nerves the most. Just please don’t say it’s “Jangle Bells.”