The Beat Lives On: TikTok is bringing new tunes to the turntable

Social media not only has the ability to inspire people for fame and success, it can also breathe new life into classic hits. Juliette Wimpfheimer | Daily Trojan.

Lately, TikTok seems to be inevitable. From hearing students and professors referring to the platform in chats and conversations via Zoom calls to viewing the popular short-form content that infiltrates the Twitter and Instagram feeds – like it or not, it’s TikTok anchored in contemporary pop culture.

Formerly known as, the app was made for users to share videos of themselves that are synced to their favorite songs. While this trend continues and is widespread among users, the use of TikTok as a catapult to fame and greater success in the music industry has also seen a significant increase over the past year.

Social media and the virtual world took control of pop culture even before the pandemic began. With the continued onset of bans and stay-at-home orders, TikTok, which has now reached over a billion downloads, quickly became the place for new artists to share their music and old artists to get a second wind of fame .

Songs have topped the charts with viral dance challenges, singers have been signed to land record deals, and old music has been brought back into the mainstream – one wouldn’t question why artists are being told by their record labels to jump on board the trend.

The extent of the power of social media to completely uproot people’s lives has not changed from the start. Just as social media has always done, TikTok is used to fuel the new wave of young (and old) talent at a time when people are looking for a sense of entertainment, relativity, and belonging.

Do you remember the phrase “one-hit miracle”? Old hits like “Come on Eileen”, “Tainted Love” and “Take on Me” fall under this classification, giving artists mainstream popularity for their only work. But if that term were applied in a new way today, what would we use to describe those who gain popularity almost instantly and soon disappear from the scene? Has the phrase “15 minutes of fame” gotten any smaller? I would argue that way.

People are going viral faster than ever today.

Instead of “15 minutes of fame” it has now become “15 seconds”. Even Spotify has playlists for “Viral Hits” and “Internet People”. While social media is allowing more artists to rise and thrive during the pandemic, I can only wonder if these “viral hits” maintain the same stamina and longevity as the “one-hit wonders” that have existed before. As content keeps getting shorter and media entertainment more accessible than ever before, young people are becoming the pacemakers in deciding the next big trends in music.

There’s no doubt that TikTok is bringing new songs to the turntable and even reviving old ones like Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit “Dreams,” which became even more popular in the 19th century – the Sea Shanty. However it all went down, I know I’m not complaining about it.

If you’ve been steeped in pop culture phenomena in the past few months, you probably know TikTok, which gave the legendary song “Dreams” a significant boost in streams and suddenly made the track relevant again at Generation Z and didn’t grow up in the time the song was at its peak. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Ring a Bell? In October 2020, an Idaho man went viral and blissfully skateboarded to the song while sipping cran raspberry juice from a gallon bottle. Later retweeted by Stevie Nicks herself, the singer also went to TikTok to strap on her roller skates and sing along to her infamous hit.

But don’t stop there. If you’ve only discovered Fleetwood Mac in the last few months, or haven’t explored much of their discography, I recommend listening to Rumors.

What’s next for a comeback of the pandemic in the 21st century?

Look no further. You probably never would have guessed it, but Sea Shanties are on the rise. And I’m not mad about it. It all started with a man named Nathan Evans’ viral Sea Shanty cover of “The Wellerman,” which earned him a recording deal. That’s right, a real record business with Polydor Records. Not many people can say they signed a label because a TikTok video went viral, let alone a Sea Shanty cover. Given that Evans has a remarkable voice, it just goes to show that anything is possible these days and the world is your oyster.

If you’re one of today’s shanty-loving fanatics, check out Blow the Man Down – the song and the movie. It’s a catchy tune and a plus if you like an indie film with a great score and cast.

Almost on a daily basis, the music industry and social media platforms grow more and more together and clash to find new talent and reach new heights. A few days ago, Universal Music Group and TikTok announced a global alliance that gives the platform full access to the UMG artist catalog. This would benefit both users and the artists who have signed with the label.

As exciting as it is, I love that songs from decades ago are gaining recognition, especially among the younger generations. It’s almost surprising to see. Although I didn’t grow up in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, I have an immense appreciation for the music that was produced during those decades and I believe that music can be cyclical, maybe just reproduced and reinterpreted in different ways becomes than before.

Whether melodies from the 19th century, hits from the early 2000s or classic jams from the 70s – the trends close and the beat lives on.

Emily Sagen is a senior writer who writes about the lasting effects of music. She is also the arts and entertainment editor for the Daily Trojan. Her column “The Beat Lives On” appears every second Friday.

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