Tik Tok

Tik Tok seems to be the greatest internet phenomenon of our day and age, creating memes, quotes, and songs that have infested everyday life. It seems many conversations or jokes begin with “have you seen that one Tik Tok…” (and most of the time, people have seen it). Notably, Tik Tok has shaken up the music world. Spotify has an entire staff created playlist appropriately named “Internet People” that features a wide array of songs largely popularized on the app. Some previously unknown artists have even been lucky enough to have multiple tracks blow up on Tik Tok, such as Freddie Dredd. Others such as Lil Peep have had their music brought to a larger audience and cultivated an even more massive fanbase and culture.

There is no doubt that Tik Tok has become a valuable platform to launch artists to fame and give them massive amounts of exposure to their target audience and aesthetic. However, the social media platform has also changed the rules of what makes a song “popular”. Tik Tok features short videos, often less than thirty seconds, that allow the user to lip sync to an audio. This time constraint creates a need for a catchy, quotable line that packs a punch and allows the video creator to display their personality, style, or sense of humor. This has brought many older songs to light, such as a Hamilton track with a pronounced “unless…” line frequently used for memes. “Tungs” by The Frights touts “do you like my style, have you seen my shoes”, practically begging to be used in a post showing off a user’s outfit. These songs, however, were both around before Tik Tok.

One song that I find to be particularly important in the new wave of “Tik Tok music” is Runway by female rapper Stunna Girl. On an edgy, electronic beat, she sings in an argumentative tone “b****, I look like I’m fresh off the runway, uh, b****, I go crazy the dumb way, uh.” She even plainly states in her official Genius lyric analysis that “there was no inspiration.” The song quickly made its way to Tik Tok and blew up.

It seems that the emphasis here is solely on the catchiness of one line of the song (making it easy to create a viral video), no matter the actual quality of the lyrics. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. These songs are popular for a reason. They flaunt the confidence, edginess, and fast-paced attitude of Tik Tok’s target audience: Gen Z. But Gen Z is not solely limited to listening to Tik Tok music; the extremely influential and revolutionary album “Igor” by Tyler, the Creator was released in the thick of Tik Tok mania but has largely remained out of use on the app. Tik Tok music, if the genre can be called this, is self-contained in “internet people” playlists and given a permanent label of becoming famous on the app.

Tik Tok doesn’t seem to be completely disrupting the music industry yet, but it certainly is altering which songs achieve massive amounts of fame and which others fade into the background.

-Chloe Zelch ’20

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