I was raised on 64-bit soundtracks and kawaii smooth-jazz pop from various anime programs. Those bleep-bloop, feel-good, uptempo tracks filled my minor brain with joy throughout life’s most awkward years. The internet fueled my fascination with video games and cartoons, and it eventually became the weapon of choice for discovering new music.
Electronic music is an easy thing to understand when you’ve spent years listening to Super Mario load screens and Sailor Moon MIDIs. Drum ‘n ‘bass, ambient, electro, house, Radiohead’s Kid A. These were instantly relatable genres because computers were friends. Aphex Twin doesn’t sound like anything from Nintendo’s past, but while I explored these sounds, so too were more musical minds soaking up influence from both sources. Today, those producers are taking over the scene, and suddenly, there are a bunch of cute songs coming out that sound exactly like my childhood.
Neon. Gamewave. Dofflin. Future bass. Whatever you call this stuff, it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. Three cheers for the new school! Here’s a list of dance music’s 10 cutest songs ever (in no particular order).
Wave Racer is a king of cute. The original Flight Facilities song was already really endearing. Wave Racer takes the whole vibe up to double-rainbow levels of cute with a whistling hook, lil water drop noises, high-pitched chants of “hey,” wind chime effects, noise-maker percussion bits, and a synth rhythm that bounces like you’re walking on gum drops. To listen to this is to guarantee you have the best day ever.
#2 Cute Song: Pusher – Islands, Waves, Caves, & Skies
Okay, so Pusher has been making some really great stuff lately. I highly recommend you check out “Long Night” featuring Anuka. He’s collaborated with Rusko on a track. Still, this list is all about overwhelming levels of cuteness, and nothing is more kawaii than putting Yoshi samples all over your #neon production. Like, omg, can I live in this level?!
#3 Cute Song: Shy Guys – Easy N Fun
Speaking of video games, this duo from Austin, Texas, named themselves after the annoying lil red dude with the white face from Super Mario Bros. You can jump on a Shy Guy and spin-glide through the air, which is kind of what listening to this song makes you feel like doing. “Easy N Fun” sounds the way ’90s patters looked. Bright, breezy, colorful, and awesome.
#4 Cute Song: Skrillex – All I Ask Of You Feat. Penny
Let’s step away form the game console a little and take a look at the cutest damn thing Skrillex was ever a part of. No, it’s not Justin Bieber. It’s this adorable cut from the otherwise gnarly Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Skrill emphasizes the up-beat with a rose-colored synth, and Penny implores us to let our hearts take the lead. The hook gives us mega Alice DJ vibes, but we are definitely better off with more tunes like this than we are alone.
#5 Cute Song: QT – Hey QT
The label PC Music is the central hub of all super-cute sounds, and crew-member QT is obviously the cutest. It’s in her name. This track is effervescent and energetic like the fake sugary beverage it pretends to promote. This jam gives us mad “Barbie Girl” feels, mostly because of the girlie chipmunk vocals. The music is more sophisticated. It’s squeeky-Euro-pop for a post-internet generation.
#6 Cute Song: Tennyson – Fault Line
Tennyson is a brother and sister duo who grew up playing jazz in Canadian coffee shops. Older bro Luke makes the music on his computer while lil sis Tess provides really tight drums in the live sets. The Tennyson sound is absolutely kawaii, but there’s a hint of melancholy underneath it all, which makes it really, really good. Despite the fact that it sounds like its ripped from a pastel cartoon universe, it’s incredibly sophisticated stuff. Even Skrillex had to hit them up for a remix. This song is from the Like What EP. Love it.
What’s cuter than making music with your sibling? Making music with your best friend! Especially when your best friend is Porter Robinson or Madeon. Both artists are already known for their super adorbs approach to music making. “Shelter” is a hit and a score for anyone in search of more smiley sunshine sounds.
#8 Cute Song: That Andy Guy – They’re Kinda Cute
In terms of this list, calling yourself “That Andy Guy” is adorable and putting “cute” in the title of your song is almost cheating. “They’re Kinda Cute” really backs it up, though. This could totally be the closing credits of some awesome video game I played in 6th grade, or at least the background noise to a scene where an anime character goes to school and has lunch with their friends. It’s a track off his album Oh No, Not That Andy Guy, which I highly recommend in full.
#9 Cute Song: Herzeloyde – Clurb
Australia produces a lot of super-cute music makers, and Herzeloyde is the one you should become obsessed with next. This is what your Game Boy Color would play if it decided to become a ’90s hip-hop producer. Why didn’t my Game Boy Color ever do that?
#10 Cute Song: RoBKTA – Unbound
We leave you with this shrill shimmy-fest. “Unbound” sounds like the long-lost Mario Kart 64 level that you can only unlock if you beat Rainbow Road 25 times in a row. That electronic slap bass, though. Watch out for the speed trap at the 1:30 mark. You are definitely going to turn up there.