What Makes an Old Song Viral on TikTok?

Needless to say, TikTok has made a huge impact on the music industry by now. With the opportunity to start careers with a viral clip, we see a new star being born every day. But how about reviving an old one? Last year TikTok revived vintage hits, from classics from the 70s such as Fleetwood Mac‘S ‘Dreams’ to deep cuts of the 00s like the legendary Glaswegian indie band Life Without Buildings “The Leanover”. Ancient now Sea shanties even go viral in the apphow it – perhaps even more unlikely – The wombat2015 electro-pop song “Greek Tragedy”.

With 41 percent of users between the ages of 16 and 24, we reached out to musicians, psychologists, and some of the app’s biggest developers to find out why the app is bringing back tracks that even surpass their parents.

The nostalgia factor

It would be naive to believe that we live in a world in which the younger generation does not know or know timeless hymns like “Dreams” Bowie‘Starman’ (the latter has amassed over 14,000 videos since it was added to the app on his birthday). Rather, the cross-generational appeal of these songs could be a reason for their success. California-based psychologist and author Dr. Ronald Riggio, who specializes in adolescent psychology, credits “greater parental involvement” as a factor as parents spend more time sharing their own interests and preferences with their children, leading to Generation Z benefit TikTok to create content that will be accompanied by songs from their childhood that will spark fond memories.

And maybe that nostalgia doesn’t even have to tire of a certain memory of a song, but rather a vibe that puts you in a pensive mood. Regarding his own recently revived track, Life Without Buildings guitarist Chris Evans writes his return to his ability to “take you anywhere or to a specific person – it can also be a deliberate thought, shall we say if you sing along in the back seat of your stepfather’s car. “

TikTok tribes

However, this is definitely not the case with every viral vintage song. Take Kate Bush’s 1980 hit “Babooshka” for example. 200,000 TikTok videos featured the song in some form (including a trendy cover for which actor and musician Tobee Paik added metal guitar) and Twitter is powered by Gen-Zers flooded, delighted to discover Kate’s discography. Even 18-year-old TikTok fanatic Sydney Rose White from Tennessee (aka @rosebewhite in the app), whose video with the sound garnered more than 344,000 likes, admits NME that she has never heard of her or heard of her things.

Kate Bush has quickly settled into her rightful place on the so-called ‘WitchTok’, with ‘Babooshka’ soundtrack content featuring tarot cards, love potion making and Gothic-inspired videos with dramatic outfit changes not too different from her original Distinguish music video. This is due to the success of TikTok’s personalized “For You” page, which, like any algorithm-driven success story, reflects your own tastes. Or, as Barney Hooper, TikTok’s communications lead, tells us, it’s “powered by a recommendation system that delivers content that is likely to be of interest to a particular user based on a combination of factors.”

Here’s a perfect example: It only took a 10-second clip from earlier NME Cover star Beabadoobee Lip syncing the song to turn ‘The Leanover’ into a new alt-girl anthem with over 69,000 videos in the app and 3 million Spotify streams, 21 years after its release.

Inevitable gatekeeping

Of course, when that happens, the song’s popularity is quickly spiked by those desperate to prove that they’ve heard the track before it was TikTok approved. A quick search for “Kate Bush TikTok” on Twitter and you will find a wall of disgruntled fans angry at the song’s revived mainstream popularity. They then use TikTok to try to assert their superiority and, in turn, only make it more viral.

Direct marketing

There’s definitely a reason TikTok itself plays a role in this phenomenon. When Idaho-based TikTok Nathan Apodaca posted a clip of himself TikTok skating on a skateboard with some cranberry juice, accompanied by ‘Dreams’, the Fleetwood Mac album on which it appeared in 1977’s ‘Rumors’, got back on the Billboard charts for the first time in 43 years. This also increased the song’s sales by a staggering 374%. The app clearly saw an opportunity and has since welcomed the musical legacies of icons like John Lennon, Whitney Houston and Elvis, and recently made a big push to add Bowie’s music to the app by posting the hashtag #TheStarman.

@ 420doggface208

morning Mood # 420souljahz #ec #feel well # h2o #Cloud 9 #happyhippie #World peace #King #peace #merch Tacos #Water is life #high #Morning # 710 #Cloud 9

♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac

Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, tells us NME: “Record labels and artist teams recognize TikTok as one of the most powerful promotional tools in the industry,” suggesting that boardrooms and suits are becoming more likely to get involved as more old songs go viral and older songs marketed in the app on the same Way they approach new releases.

A little something special

What is more optimistic is that maybe there is a remixing element at work as well, as Generation Z’s see new qualities in tracks they weren’t familiar with before. With 14.9 million followers, the TikTok make-up tutorial is the star Abby Roberts is one of the UK’s largest developers of the app. She gives herself away NME What she pays attention to when creating content: “Something like a good beat drop is great for TikTok because it lets me make transitions,” refers to the dramatic jump-cuts between the makeup looks she creates the effect of ‘before and after’.

@ gnocchi500

what a song

♬ The Leanover of Life Without Buildings – andrew: •)

Guildford-based producer Timmy Dillow explains that while modern productions feel more alive than older tunes, they are actually “less effective over the mono speaker on a phone” because “popular music in the 50s to 80s” emphasized the harmonic and melodic Change from Verse to Refrain, ”which makes for a standout, sweeping jump that still sounds great through your iPhone.

The visual element

Production science aside, songs like “Babooshka” and “Starman” were shot at a time when music videos were a big deal. Songs were written more with a visual element in mind, which made it much easier for TikTokkern to develop trending concepts or use them to set scroll-stop transitions to music. The opening humming of ‘The Leanover’ gives an overly satisfied smile while TikToker’s lip-syncing leads to the track and takes on the lead role of her own mini music videos.

When 80s hip-hop duo L’Trimms ‘Cars That Go Boom’ hit the app, it was accompanied by a cheesy dance routine that could have been straight out of the original video. Remember: at a time when TV shows like Top of the Pops Having made or broken a song, artists developed dance routines in the same way as drake‘Tootie Slide’ Shimmy made outrageous TikTok last year.


the absolute serotonin high that gave me this #fyp #Horse girl #Forest #bridgerton #Fairy tales #cottagecore

♬ Original sound – Tobee Paik

Who doesn’t love a new song?

All in all, Life Without Buildings singer Sue Tompkins sums up her enthusiasm best: “I love discovering new music, old music, anything that just makes me feel something new and inspires me … I think it’s just that you find things at the right time. “

For Gen-Zers first discovering these songs, it’s no different than stumbling upon an up and coming band. Years later, these old songs find new ears, judge and bond with them like a new release and add them to their playlists regardless of the production date.

TikTokkers doesn’t care that Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers” Just The Two Of Us’ – which also went viral in the app – was shot in 1985 and is still as catchy today as ever. Good songs with a good feeling don’t age, and the feeling of finding a song you love and playing it over and over has no time limit.

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