Image of Aurora in article about song Runaway

AURORA’s ‘Runaway’ Inspires Whimsy in Millions of TikTok Creators

The 2015 hit song brought the artist an unforeseen amount of attention after it went viral as part of a TikTok trend focused on the romanticization of life.
June 15, 2021
9 mins read

Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora Aksnes, known mononymously as AURORA, has had her small and loyal fanbase, whom she has coined her “warriors and weirdos,” for years. However, her fanbase has grown much larger after her 6-year-old song “Runaway” blew up as a TikTok audio a few months ago. The song’s sudden increase in popularity helped it gain the No. 61 spot on the Spotify Global Top 100 list, and it has amassed over 100 million streams on Spotify as well as more than 220 million views for the music video on YouTube.

The carefree quality of the song complements the footage that accompanies it on the popular social media app. The trend began when it was needed most — when everybody was getting restless amid the COVID-19 pandemic — and has managed to return a bit of magic to the seemingly never-ending stagnancy of quarantine. “Runaway” may have been released six years ago, but the full potential of its impact has just been reached in a way that will make the song go down in history.

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‘Runaway’s’ Rise to Fame

“Runaway” was released in February 2015 as the lead single of Aksnes’ first album, “All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend.” The single was initially met with moderate success, but Aksnes’ next single from the album, “Conqueror,” achieved the most success by reaching No. 2 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. Although “Runaway” charted lower than “Conqueror,” it still had an impressive international reach due to various artists, including Katy Perry and Billie Eilish, praising the song openly. When the song was released in 2015, Perry tweeted, “Finally. New music that makes my [heart] a flutter,” with a link to the music video and a recommendation to her own fans to check it out. A few years later, in a Vanity Fair interview in 2018, Eilish explained that she finds a lot of inspiration visually; after seeing Aksnes’ “Runaway” music video when she was 12 years old, Eilish decided she wanted to make music as well.

Instances of celebrities praising the song gave it more traction, but in 2021, both “Runaway” and Aksnes blew up in their own right. Along with TikTok, Aksnes’ charming personality and free spirit — both of which echo the themes of the trend — have also helped boost the song’s popularity. Her new fans got to know her better, and they got to witness a live performance of “Runaway” during an interview uploaded to Genius’ YouTube channel on May 18. The interview has since garnered 1.8 million views, and many comments under the video praise her personality as calm and peaceful. One user, who goes by Ariana Medina, even describes Aksnes as “the most alive person I’ve ever encountered.” Beyond Aksnes’ music, her personality also resonates with many people, and the way in which she seems so full of life greatly evokes the meaning of the TikTok trend that uses her song.

A Trend To Feel Alive

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people feeling emotionally, physically, mentally and professionally stuck. Daily life became a monotonous routine, and many struggled to cope. It became a lot harder to find beauty in the small, everyday things because everything suddenly looked the same. The “Runaway” trend seeks to combat the bleak mindset brought on by the pandemic by forcing them to find a little bit of whimsy within themselves and their backyard, or even their small apartment or bedroom.

The “Runaway” trend consists of people playing the song’s audio in the background of a video of them posing, as if for different pictures. However, when the shutter would normally be closing on a camera, a filter of a pink and purple sunset with partial clouds shows up, overlaying the people in the video. The result is dazzling, with the creators’ poses turning into a black silhouette against the backdrop of the sky.

Since the beginning of the trend in early 2021, more than 2 million videos have been added to the audio’s collection, one of them being Aksnes’s own contribution, in which she embodies the carefree nature of the trend. The singer’s movements are fluid and graceful, and she makes them with the most natural, happy expression on her face. She is obviously fit to lead the movement the trend has created — a movement to appreciate beauty and find calm in the most mundane settings. A similar video, and one of the most popular videos under the “Runaway” audio on TikTok, shows two siblings performing various kung fu sequences and poses to the song, under the backdrop of the night sky. The result is gorgeous, and the video has garnered 1.9 million likes.


I love this trend so much 🥀 there is so much beauty in this world. #runawayaurora #runaway

♬ Runaway - AURORA

The sound is also used to show pretty sights and cool talents. Another popular video listed under the song’s audio portrays a young man simply running through a field. The video currently sits at 4.5 million likes, but it doesn’t use the night sky or sunset filters. It’s simply meant to showcase nature and the happiness that nature can bring someone by itself. Another video with 9.7 million likes showcases a young woman on a German wheel, which is a large wheel used in wheel gymnastics. Once again, no filters are used because none are needed. The video is simply showing off the woman’s talent and her love for this particular physical exercise. The love for life found in these videos makes it well worth scrolling through the immense beauty and talent found in the audio’s collection on the social media site.

Lyrical Inspiration and Impact

The lyrics of “Runaway” make it the perfect song to accompany a trend that romanticizes mundane life. Aksnes explains in her Genius interview that the song is about loss and needing “a soft place to fall” after it happens, but she also says the song could apply to any difficult situation in a person’s life. Thus, it seems appropriate for the song to explode during a time in which the world is collectively suffering.

The TikTok audio includes the pre-chorus and chorus, which goes: “And I was running far away / Would I run off the world someday? / Nobody knows, nobody knows / And I was dancing in the rain / I felt alive and I can’t complain / But no, take me home / Take me home where I belong / I can’t take it anymore.” As could be predicted from its title, the song is about running away from something, which is what a lot of people wish to do amid the COVID- 19 pandemic. However, the song has a hint of hope in it, found in the lyrics about dancing in the rain, feeling alive and not being able to complain. The song comforts its listeners by acknowledging the pain that everybody experiences when dealing with a hard time, while also referencing the beauty waiting to be found again at the end of the bumpy road.

The pairing of the lyrics of Aksnes’s “Runaway” with the visuals of people appreciating nature, their rooms or an activity they enjoy has contributed to a calm space that has given creators and their viewers an important outlet. The trend seems to have brought joy into its participants’ lives and eased their restlessness for a little while longer. Appreciating the small things in one’s life can be hard when it feels like nothing has changed in over a year, but the “Runaway” trend is an open door that leads its fans right back into the romanticizing mindset.

Jayni Nielsen, Pace University

Writer Profile

Jayni Nielsen

Pace University
English Language & Literature

I am a student at Pace University’s New York City campus with a passion for all things concerning literature, psychology, art, nature and media.

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