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Music Trends on TikTok Now

No other social media platform has got the use of supplementary music down pat quite like TikTok. If there’s an emerging music or soundbite trend, the origin story of its rise to popularity probably involves TikTok. TikTok is notorious for either boosting a song’s rankings on the charts or creating narrative arcs—frequently comedic—based around clips of songs.

And we can’t pretend TikTok doesn’t run fast. What’s popular one day could be out the next, so to avoid seeming out of touch, we’re giving ourselves a generous scope when we define “trending now.” This is a brief highlight reel of the fun TikTok users have been having with music so far in 2023.  

A Few of TikTok’s Favourite Songs

There are some songs TikTok isn’t willing to ignore. We don’t have a secret formula for generating a hit song on the social media app, but it does help if TikTok users can segue into funny or dramatic anecdotes by plugging available song lyrics. A good TikTok trend is one that serves as an opportunity for confession or release. 

Some songs, however, don’t seem as valued for their potential to provide TikTokers with an outlet. They simply just catch on, because TikTok users are eager to groove to them or document happy memories to a pleasing soundtrack. There are loads of songs we could list that caught fire on TikTok, but here are a few that kicked off hard or wouldn’t disappear in 2023.  

“If We Ever Broke Up” by Mae Stephens

TikTokers are apparently loving this one, with a handful claiming it “scratches an itch in their brain.” TikTok users have taken to the app to show their appreciation for the song, dance along to the beat, and test the song’s promotional filter (which appears to quiz TikTokers on their knowledge of the chorus).

“Levitating (feat. DaBaby)” by Dua Lipa

Many TikTok users have decided the Dua Lipa chart-topping love song would be suitable background music for clips of them doing anything that brings them joy. There is, of course, an easy happy-go-lucky dance accompanying the song, involving taking two steps and then “levitating.” Because it’s so easy and the dance can be performed in a series of still images, people are having their pets put on the show.

“The Greatest” by Sia

This motivational, uplifting anthem has got TikTok users pumped. Many have decided it’s the perfect backdrop for fan edits and videos implying a great triumph over some previous failure—or they just want to publicly jam to the motivating song.

Storytelling to Music

Some TikTok music trends come with a highly specific set of criteria. This isn’t just people rocking out to a song and having a good time, this is an opportunity to unload grievances and spotlight the human condition in all its stumbling glory—and anyone who wants to get in on the trend best be doing it right. This is important. Understood? 

Sure, many of these upsetting anecdotes are cloaked inside humour. But nevertheless, the stories offer a genuine insight into the burnout permeating the cultural terrain. Here are some examples of illuminating music trends on TikTok. 

“Customer Service” by Sugar Pit

In April, newly established musician, Sugar Pit, put out his song “Customer Service,” which describes putting on a polite front for customers and managers at work, alongside a TikTok pretending to be a Walmart employee in an actual Walmart. Other TikTokers were quickly inspired by Sugar Pit’s video and ran with it, recreating the format, but keeping it context-specific to their own jobs. Doesn’t really matter what category of job it is. The point is for TikTokers to provide a peek into their elbow grease-filled workdays.

Nobody’s Heard from Me for Months

This trend borrows a line from Taylor Swift’s song “Call It What You Want”: “Nobody’s heard from me for months. I’m doing better than I ever was.” The kicker, though? Either the TikTok user hasn’t been gone a whole long time or they are absolutely not doing better than they ever were. People following this trend only put aside their addiction to the internet for a few hours to complete a mundane everyday task. The contrast between Swift’s dramatic lyrics and the banality of users’ experiences draws a laugh.

Answer the Phone

“Answer the phone” refers to a line in Harry Styles’ song “As It Was.” Following this trend, TikTokers act out a scene where they’re desperately waiting for someone to pick up their phone and the phone call goes unanswered. Harry Styles’ line mirrors the frustration of an important call going ignored or unnoticed. 

Bombastic Side Eye Remix

The “bombastic side eye” audio clip got a remix and TikTok users warmed up to it in no time. Bombastic side eye was powerful enough to begin with as a gesture when used to express disgust, contempt, and disapproval. But it packs a bigger punch in remix form. TikTokers will list a pet peeve or “ick” of theirs then follow it up with a lip-synched rendition of the bombastic side eye remix, which makes it clear they are not happy with a situation or a person’s behaviour.

Jacob Carmichael | Staff Writer

Winter 2023

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