Animal Crossing culture has permeated every social-media platform. Friends you didn’t even know played video games now only tweet about turnip price fluctuations and the best methods for bullying anthropomorphic villagers. And over on TikTok, “Bubblegum K.K.,” a song from the video game, is gaining popularity as a lip-syncing sound. The song itself isn’t much more than some melodic beeps, sounding like the ringer on a kid’s play phone. But user @maybe.itsmk elevated it with some hip-hop ad-libs, hyping up the little yellow Shih Tzu, Isabelle, who performs the song. “Ooh, sing it, bitch,” is just one example of the encouragement. The combination of the high-pitched, innocent tune and the rhythmic beat is reminiscent of many a pop hit. And just wait for the beat to drop. While TikTok’s biggest star Charli D’Amelio has yet to perform “Bubblegum K.K.,” @maybe.itsmk’s remix has nearly 3 million views, its own trend, and it’s helped take “Bubblegum K.K.” from Animal Crossing song to full-on meme music.
For the uninitiated: Animal Crossing is a Nintendo game series that launched in 2001 and just released its latest version for Nintendo Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20. So that’s where all your friends have been. The video @maybe.itsmk is watching in her TikTok, however, is a YouTube video of the 2015 Nintendo 3DS game Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, where certain characters sing if you place a microphone in the room. The video was taken by YouTuber Blaze last year via a 3DS emulator and posted so Animal Crossing fans could have a high-quality version of Isabelle’s performance. That video itself has over 2 million views. That’s how much people stan Isabelle. But for all of her talents, “Bubblegum K.K.” is not an Isabelle original. The Animal Crossing lore goes much deeper. “Bubblegum K.K.” is a 2012 pop release by the game’s fictional rock star K.K. Slider. Well, to be clear, the animated dog is fictional, the bops are not. K.K. Slider has a real and vast discography that can be unlocked throughout the game series. Since Animal Crossing has been around for 19 years, K.K. has a lot of classics, including “Bubblegum K.K.,” one of his more cheerful songs.
Before you start to worry, this trend isn’t about those unnervingly good animal cosplay TikToks you may have seen, though Isabelle is a fave in that community. Thanks to @maybeits.mk’s remix, Isabelle’s song has become a meme completely separate from its original context. Like many other lip-synced sketches, TikTokers are adding their own interpretations, most of which has nothing to do with the game. Instead, the two parts of @maybeits.mk’s sound have become a conversation between two people, typically with the hype man’s “oh, yeah”s and “uh, huh”s validating what the other person is saying. One popular version, where a boyfriend hypes up his angry girlfriend, has over 2 million views and close to 400,000 likes. Here are some examples:
In similar TikTok trends, the lyrics don’t always match up with the scenario; we just give into TikTok’s suspension of belief. A clear example is the “No I know” trend, which was started after the Portuguese words “não vai não” were misheard in a song. Or, more recently, the “What’s That Supposed to Be About, Baby?” trend, where really only one lyric has to do with the scenario, the rest are redefined using on-screen captions. But with “Bubblegum K.K.” there’s nothing but squeaks, making it way easier to add your interpretation. That is, unless, you know the lyrics. “Bubblegum K.K.” is one of the rare K.K. Slider songs that has lyrics to go along with the squeaks. So, when Isabelle’s going “Beepbeepbeepbeep beep boop / Beepbeep beepbeep beep boop” she’s really singing “When the bubblegum pops / I want you to smile.”
The lyrics to “Bubblegum K.K.” are as sweet as the music. It’s all about encouraging you to stay optimistic in dark times and to keep your loved ones close, and it’s resurfacing right when some people may need it most. In the Animal Crossing community, “Bubblegum K.K.,” is already a popular song to remix, cover, record villagers singing, make memes with, and, you know, just
weep jam to. Its transformation from a sweet video game song to a viral trend speaks to TikTok’s uncanny ability to make anything a hit. And, of course, to Isabelle’s innate stardom. @maybe.itsmk said it best: “Sing it, bitch!”