Debunking TikTok: Does Mario Kart Music Help You Finish Homework Quicker?

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Finals are fast approaching for us students and that means all-nighters galore are on the horizon. What if there was a type of music that could optimize getting that essay finished? Well, a TikTok theory has recently surfaced that claims that you’ll do your work faster if you listen to the Mario Kart game soundtrack. As assignments pile up, this theory seems very promising. Does it work or is it just a placebo effect? 

Back in October, TikTok user @daniellev98 posted a video of her brother coming into her room as she zooms through her 5-page essay due at midnight as the Mario Kart “Super Star” theme blasts heavily in the background. According to her caption, she finished her essay in just one hour.  Her video has over 7.6 million views with 1.5 million likes. It soon became a trend with people testing out her theory.  It gained so much popularity that “Coconut Mall” charted on Spotify’s United States Viral 50 this past October.

Despite the popularity of this trend, does it work for college students low on time? Megan Masseron, a Senior at Marymount,  had to write out her oral presentation for her Comics as Literature class. The assignment that usually “ would consist of [her] taking ‘five-minute breaks’ on social media and then writing a few sentences, then taking another break… could take [her] up to two hours, especially including the coinciding PowerPoint”. When asked to listen to Mario Kart music while working on this assignment, Masserson was able to finish both the presentation write up and PowerPoint in 29 minutes. 

“It felt like as the music gained momentum, I did too: it motivated me to rapidly type out my thoughts the same way upbeat music motivates me to move faster on a treadmill,” said Masserson. 

There have been multiple studies over the years on the benefits of music and focus in the workplace. Music improves the listener’s mood which makes them more productive and perceptive in their work. Like Masserson’s experience, music can be a great motivator and video game music like Mario Kart is composed solely to have the player immersed in the world and task at hand. Whether it be getting a banana to throw on the racing course or a timeline assignment for a Business of Broadway class you are intensely focused on completing the work. 

This way of studying is not entirely new for Chloe Bowman, another senior at Marymount who tends to listen to film scores while working on assignments she’d normally have trouble focusing on. For this test, a timeline assignment that usually would take her 2 to 4 hours to complete took approximately one hour and 36 minutes. Bowman although, is not sold on this theory. 

“I mean, I think it is good study/focus music and the fact that it’s so upbeat is a bonus. I don’t know about it being any more effective than any other type of study music. I think what might make it stand out or seem special is the universality of it”, explains Bowman. 

Mario Kart is a super familiar game with everyone and its musical themes are recognizable regardless of language. The pervasiveness of this study theory amplifies how video game music is composed to be sonically enjoyable yet not distract you from the tasks of the game. 

Both Masserson and Bowman recommend others to try out this theory especially if you are hard-pressed to get assignments done. If the theory is working for people that’s a testament to excellent game design, if not then maybe exuberant study music is not your thing. We all don’t need to feel like we’re zooming through Rainbow Road as we’re writing a psychology paper. But maybe that’s just what it takes to make the experience all the more enjoyable.