How this Emerson senior’s Olivia Rodrigo TikTok mashup led him to the VMAs

When Olivia Rodrigo’s third single “good 4 u” came out in May, TikTok was full of nostalgic millennials comparing the track to Paramore’s 2007 song “Misery Business”.

Emerson senior Nick Johnston created misery 4 u, an audio mashup of the two songs that gained momentum as TikTok users began to borrow the audio to create videos that parodied their teenage emo periods. “I’ll be 30 in 2021 and wonder why I love this song so much,” wrote influencer @ the.navarose and jammed in a June video to the first lines of the chorus of “good 4 u”. “Me in 2007, when I was 16,” she concludes, when the video changes to a VHS-like filtered flashback, when “Misery Business” begins. Johnston’s “misery 4 u” sound produced 38.9k videos.

The 43-second sound clip was nominated for Best Audio Mashup on MTV’s Trending: VMAs, an offshoot of the network’s annual Video Music Awards that highlights TikTok artists and creators who helped create some of today’s greatest songs ( and some old classics) have reached viral status. While Johnston didn’t take home that award on Friday night – a Britney Spears x The B-52′sx Rob Zombie mashup won by @djcummerbund – his clip still inspired a major generational trend in the app.

Johnston, who has over 30,000 followers and 2.7 million likes on TikTok, said he was surprised when MTV direct message him about his mashup post on Aug. 31. At the time of reporting, the video has received more than 600,000 views and 90,000 likes on the platform.

“It was absolutely shocking to me how simple the whole mashup was. It was just a transition from one song to another, ”said Johnston. He also realized he wasn’t the only user putting the two tracks together, noting that his co-creator Adamusic, who was also nominated in the same category for his “Baby One More Time x Levitating” mashup, got a mixed “good 4.” “released u” x “Misery Business” track in May.

The nomination comes when Olivia Rodrigo pays royalties to Paramore and Joshua Farro’s Hayley Williams because of the similarities in their song. According to Billboard, Rodrigro Williams and Farro will pay 50 percent of the royalties on “good 4 u” after Rodrigo adds them to songwriting credits. Johnston believes a lot of people create discord where they shouldn’t, because even though the songs sound similar, he admits they are still different.

“She made good music that resonated with a lot of people, and I feel like a lot of people are trying to discredit her for it,” said Johnston. “They try to do whatever it takes to say, ‘Hey, you copied this,’ but the reality is that she just grew up with this music and it’s the kind of thing that inspires her.”

Riana Buchman can be reached at riana.buchman@globe.com.

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