TikTok: Revolutionizing musical fame via virality

We are all guilty of spending hours on social media apps, scrolling endlessly. You might have even found yourself in a dark hole of random TikTok content without a clue of how you ended up there. 

If you have been living under a rock, TikTok is the latest on-trend, video-focused, worldwide social media platform. It has seen a rapid rise in popularity, much of that being fuelled by the catchy music and viral dances that accompany it. 

While TikTok has become somewhat of a ‘fame machine’ for new musicians from all genres, it has also reignited the popularity of old, forgotten songs. If you think back to the app’s early days, you’ll remember tracks like ‘Lottery (Renegade)’ by K Camp  or ‘Supalonely’ by Bennee that sparked masses of new users. 

@lisaandlena

We had to try this one, such a fast dance 😅 #renegade

♬ Lottery – K CAMP
TikTok famous twins Lisa and Lena using the backing track ‘Lottery (Renegade)’ by K Camp 

An article by Quartz shows that in 2020, nearly 50% of top 40 Spotify hits are the first tracks on an artists release, gaining popularity purely because of TikTok. When we start to think about the artists that achieved success on the app, try to remember if you even knew who Doja Cat or Megan Thee Stallion were prior to hearing their music on TikTok. Now, they are the staple names on avid TikTok users’ lips.

As these repetitive, snappy songs take over the charts and the radio, let’s look at a few of them to see what makes them so special.

A song that immediately comes to mind is ‘Stunt N Dozier Mix 2’ by L.E.$ –the song that repeats “Not the Thermometer”. So what makes a song that repeats three words so catchy? This track is proof that it is the dance trend that attracts listeners, and a few addictive seconds of an entire song is all that is needed for a hit on the app.

On the other end of the spectrum is ‘Death Bed’ by Powfu ft Bebadoobee: a very mellow song centered around a man on his deathbed, reminiscing about his lover. This is one of those songs where the artist has such a unique voice, that it immediately catches the listener’s attention. 

@mochapom

It takes almost all day but so worth it in the end ✨ #pomeranian #dog #pets

♬ death bed (coffee for your head) – Powfu & beabadoobee
TikTok featuring ‘Death Bed’ by Powfu ft Bebadoobee

Arguably the most popular one right now is the ‘No Baila’, the unreleased song by a renowned TikToker:Ondreaz Lopez, one of the Lopez Brothers. I have no clue what the song in entirety sounds like, but the 15 seconds I have heard replay in my mind all the time. The catchy Spanish song definitely captures the vibe that most Latin songs have, but is combined with a steady beat which makes it perfect for a new viral dance.

However, there is nothing highly special about these new songs. So why is Generation Z so obsessed with the growing genre of short, alt-pop music?

The popularity of this new style of music is, in large, attributed to the innovative dances that TikTok became renowned for. Yes, the music in itself is catchy and that is undeniable, but it is the combination with the dancing that makes them memorable in the long term.  And, of course, the hours of endless scrolling which leads to the same few seconds heard repeatedly. But in today’s age, a few seconds is all we have to give, rendering the style of the app itself a perfect fit for catchy music, thus appealing to the younger generation.

TikTok has not only created a new wave of celebrities, it has also revolutionized the music industry. The popularity of the app across the world provides the ideal platform for new releases, skyrocketing them into hits even overnight. Even now, as I come back to read what I’ve written, more songs have been released and dances created to accompany them. 

It seems that the tailored music has truly caught the attention of the younger generation. Just as YouTube once was, TikTok has become a new ‘fame machine’ for hopefuls. This begs the question – What will happen to the music industry if the platform is banned in America? 

Words by Nikita Rajkumar. 

Illustration by Patricia Estrada.

Quartz Article: https://qz.com/1843509/how-music-streaming-and-tiktok-are-fueling-track-1-hits/

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