Band Goes Viral on TikTok Over Mis-Heard Lyric

  • A 2016 song titled “Pope is a Rockstar” has become a huge trend on TikTok.
  • The song’s lyrics were misheard, although SALES, the band behind the tune, doesn’t mind.
  • SALES’ Spotify streams have doubled since the song went viral – her second TikTok hit in two years.

Loading Something is loading.

A 2016 song titled “Pope is a Rockstar” has quickly become one of the biggest catchy tunes to have become popular on TikTok in recent weeks — but there’s a fundamental misconception about the song by Florida band SALES .

A clip from the song has been used in more than 2.7 million videos, many designed to break your heart. The song’s soundtracks are inspirational photomontages of college football players wanting to make their dead grandmother proud and friends beaming with pride in the people they care about growing up and getting married.

Its slow, languid lyrics have been interpreted as “You can be the highlight / Go little rock star / Hoping for a late night”.

But that’s wrong, as fans of the Orlando-based band, made up of high school friends Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih, have pointed out. The line “go little rockstar” was never written in the song, it seems to have come from people misreading the true lyrics “Pope is a Rockstar”.

But the band doesn’t care how people use the song.

“TikTok is pretty liberal when it comes to referencing music and we’re super cool with that,” Shih told Insider. “There’s a lot of outrage about: ‘What is the real text?’ but we’ve always been very open to people’s interpretation of what’s happening.”

“Pope is a Rock Star” went viral years after it was written

Shih told Insider “Pope is a Rockstar” was written in 2016 by the band, which formed three years earlier.

Morgan was in a grocery store when she saw a magazine rack full of publications, including one with the Pope emblazoned on the cover. An elderly lady buying items looked at the magazine and said, “Wow, the Pope is a rock star,” Shih told Insider.

“The way Lauren writes lyrics is very timely,” he said. “There wasn’t much thought about a connection to religion or the Pope, but she just found that phrase somehow compelling and catchy.”

They realized the song went viral when friends sent them videos in late 2021 of users including it on their TikToks — and misunderstanding the lyrics. In December, Morgan even posted a tweet saying she wishes she’d thought of the alternative lyrics to the song.

— SALES (@WEARENOTSALES) December 10, 2021

His popularity surprised Shih and Morgan.

“We kind of saw it from the sidelines, we were just really excited,” Shih said.

The song’s popularity has boosted the band’s streaming numbers

When the song was written, Shih, who worked in a call center while Morgan worked as a cashier at a store, said the couple had no idea they would soon have a career in music.

Now Shih and Morgan work as full-time musicians. The duo continue to record new music and intend to perform live again later this year – COVID-19 pandemic permitting.

That’s partly because of the tremendous success that TikTok has brought them. Before “Pope is a Rockstar” took over TikTok, the band averaged around 3.6 million listeners each month on Spotify.

“Now we have over 7 million listeners per month just because of the virality of this trend,” Shih told Insider. “The growth has been phenomenal. We can’t complain.

SALES previously had success on TikTok

In June 2020, the band received an email from TikTok representatives informing them that their 2013 single “Renee” had gone viral on the app. The TikTok employee helped the band build their own profile on TikTok, which now has 42,000 followers.

TikTok also helped Corral users post videos with “Renee” in a topic and under a hashtag, #yougotit. Shih said TikTok thought the catchy chorus of “Renee” — which repeats the mantra “You got it” — was likely something TikTokers would latch on to.

The song has been used in over a million TikTok uploads.

“The videos are all very positive, kind of triumphant, inspirational videos,” Shih told Insider. “This one got huge; billion views. But this one is even crazier: Pope is a rock star.”

For more stories like this, check out Insider’s Digital Culture team’s coverage here.

Comments are closed.