TikTok Is Defining a New Wave of Popular Music

The videos are more than just dances and lip syncing challenges — the app is changing how we find music, and even affecting the music charts.
July 5, 2020
8 mins read

TikTok, which made its rise to fame in early 2020, is defining different aspects of our culture. From the whipped coffee we drink, to the LED lights we hang in our rooms, TikTok serves as an inspiration for many of the things we do every day. When it comes to the music that everyone is listening to, the app has surely made its mark. While the app had a humble beginning, with many reluctant to hop on the bandwagon, it has now amassed over 800 million users worldwide. Here is how TikTok is cleverly influencing music.

1. New TikTok dances are always trending

With every new TikTok dance that becomes popular, so does the song that comes with it. Megan Thee Stallion’s single “Savage” continues to top music charts because of the catchy chorus that has users, young and old, dancing along. With the help of famous faces making their own TikTok videos, the song started trending within a matter of days.

Additionally, Drake’s “Toosie Slide” quickly took over the No. 1 spot on music streaming apps as celebrities like Lebron James, Jordyn Woods and others took to TikTok to record themselves following the lyrics in a dance. With the help of Toosie and three other dance artists, Drake curated the perfect TikTok dance trend. Soon after the artists’ released the snippet of themselves dancing to the song, users rushed to the app to try it for themselves. Millions of people played the song on repeat when it dropped a few days later.


Zhuri is the real star of the James gang now‼️ [via @bryce23james] #nba #toosieslide #drake #lebron #lebronjames #sports #athlete #dance

♬ Toosie Slide – Drake

While the pandemic has kept people quarantined inside, TikTok dances have rescued homebodies from their boredom and given them hope of someday going viral. Since no one really enjoys walking around their house with the chorus from “Lottery (Renegade)” by KCAMP stuck in their head, some users have started creating playlists on Spotify and YouTube to compile the many songs finding fame on TikTok.

2. Thousands, if not millions of users watch TikToks all the time

TikTok has made “going viral” the ultimate challenge. Having 10,000 or more people watch a video is a proud accomplishment for many teens. Because the millions of TikTok users are constantly watching, liking and sharing videos, the songs accompanying the video are becoming famous as well.

Often, users hear the same clips of songs again and again before finally turning to Google to search the lyrics and find the rest of the song. Some songs, such as Doja Cat’s “Freak Like Me,” are merely snippets of unreleased music and make it hard for users to get the catchy lyrics out of their heads. However, in case the name of the song isn’t easily found in the comments of the video, other users have generously created playlists on YouTube and written articles referencing the songs that seem impossible to find.

3. TikTok allows for creative remixes of outdated songs to come back in style

The goal of most videos is finding the perfect content to overlay a sound, whether it be pranks, lip-syncing or a cat dancing to “Mr. Sandman.” Many users are remixing songs from as far back as the ’50s.


I’m so dead #fyp #foryou #cat

♬ Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes

Even the short, yet well-known transition sounds on “Hannah Montana” have been remixed into a full-length soundtrack, which is often used by users to show off a series of outfits or rate various situations.

Originally released in 2016, SAINt JHN’s “Roses” went virtually unnoticed until the TikTok remix brought newfound fame to the artist and to the song. This is one of the many songs that have been sped up, slowed down or mixed with another song to create the ideal TikTok sound.

Because of the many DJs, content creators and musicians on TikTok, there is an endless supply of new (and old) songs that are revamped for an original wave of music.

4. TikToks aren’t always about dancing

Many videos on TikTok that feature a popular song fall into a category outside of dance videos; TikTok, unlike its previous incarnation as Musical.ly, features all types of content, including art tutorials, puppy videos, sunset compilations and more.

The versatility of the app allows for a variety of videos that every type of audience can relate to. One song, “death bed” remixed by Powfu, is now the soundtrack for artsy videos, heartwarming puppy clips and, more importantly, the newest trend in which an individual records their crush’s reaction to their confession of love.

No matter what the video might contain, members of the app are frequently finding new songs to add to their playlist.

5. Music is at the root of TikTok

While TikToks seemingly started to appear on the internet out of nowhere, the app is really a rebranded version of Musical.ly. In November 2017, the Chinese company ByteDance bought out Musical.ly and redesigned it with a new platform and name: TikTok. Since then, the karaoke app now focuses on 15-second clips of dancing, cooking, life hacks, art tutorials and nearly anything else you can imagine. Learning how TikTok developed is helpful for understanding how TikTok, like Musical.ly, holds sharing music at its core.

Thanks to TikTok collective spaces like The Hype House, a private mansion paid for and founded by the app’s stars Lil Huddy, Thomas Petrou and Daisy Keech, there is a place for members of Generation Z to create original dances and trends. The Hype House is a secluded spot in Los Angeles for TikTok-famous teenagers like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae to join in on dance trends and promote content. Because of their young age and large following, these teens are leading the newest generation of social media users. With every new post, the song accompanying a video reaches more and more listeners.

Though it might be hard to believe, TikTok is infiltrating our lives in ways we never realized. Whether an individual is on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, a rabbit-hole of TikToks is one click away. Because of its prominence and popularity, TikTok is undoubtedly influencing the sounds and songs the newest generation is listening to.

Danielle Kuzel, Florida State University

Writer Profile

Danielle Kuzel

Florida State University

Psychology major at Florida State University who loves writing, thrift shopping, family and her cat. Hoping to make a difference through writing, advocating and standing up for issues that are important.

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