Anyone who knows me knows I am mildly addicted to TikTok. And anyone who knows TikTok knows that it’s a vehicle for virality, especially when it comes to music.
If a sound bite on TikTok gets its own affiliated trend, the artist responsible for the sound can get substantial exposure.
Examples of TikTok's influence come in various forms.
A dance to Doja Cat’s song "Say So" made her a household name virtually overnight. An audio snippet of Kate Bush's music that appeared in the fourth season of Stranger Things landed her in the top 10 in Apple Music’s charts in 34 countries. And last July, trends with Måneskin’s cover of the song "Beggin'" helped it get into the Global Top 200 on Spotify despite the song being released nearly five years prior.
Because of this, artists self-promoting sounds with their music is inevitable.
Even already-popular mainstream artists have had their musical successes exacerbated by TikTok. Olivia Rodrigo’s hit “drivers license” and Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” were initially popularized on the app. So if such big-name artists can benefit from the app, it's only natural that less popular musicians can do the same.
As is common in today's “holier than thou” internet culture, when a trend emerges, a trend making fun of it follows close behind. And now, because so many musicians promote their music TikTok, making fun of them has become its own trend.
This can sometimes have the effect of promoting the music even more. Mockery means more clicks, more views and more of a chance it ends up on my phone screen.
One of my favorites that's popped up is “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals. This song has a groovy psychedelic undertone, making it the perfect song to accompany an evening of self-care or a midnight walk. It’s the musical embodiment of glow sticks, of the feeling you get right before you’re about to go to sleep and you think you’re falling.
Another favorite of mine is “Wait a Minute!” by WILLOW. This is the throwback to my soft indie rock youth that I didn’t know I needed until the song blessed my ears. WILLOW’s voice is uniquely addicting and the musical accompaniment is just enough to enhance her sound without feeling “over-produced.”
Complementing all that angst but in a totally different way is “Stick Season” by Noah Kahan. Kahan is a spectacular lyricist and this song, which hit No. 25 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart, proves it. It’s one of those songs that almost sounds happy until you listen to the words — some folky upbeat earnestness that feels too close to home with lines like “Doc told me to travel, but there's COVID on the planes.” I genuinely cannot get enough.
Lastly, we need to discuss “Looking Out for You” by Joy Again. This is a song that you can’t help romanticizing your life to. Something about it sounds nostalgic and rosy-toned, like the sound of a cool autumn finally hitting Chapel Hill.
As the semester begins, I know my media consumption is going to drop drastically. Soon I’ll be discovering new music from (gasp) friends, instead of my never-ending ‘For You’ page.
So to mark the end of an era, here’s a collection of songs made popular by TikTok that I think are well worth the listen. Plus, listening to this playlist will help you learn more than just the couple random lyrics that you’ve heard on loop a million times.
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