Doja, Dembow, and Drumming Godmothers Dominate the Week on TikTok
TikTok users view music as a vehicle for self-expression. Music trends on TikTok play on a feeling or idea evoked by a certain song–they’re specific enough to instantly convey meaning, but malleable enough for a user’s creativity to shine through. In recent weeks, the community has fallen hard for songs by British-Nigerian rappers, Dominican dembow stars, and French jazz fusion bands, which exist on the app side-by-side with the latest chart hits from massive pop stars. Take a look at some of the artists, trends, and users who have been making noise in recent weeks: Pop superstar and TikTok favorite Billie Eilish has recently been in the news for promoting body positivity and the importance of finding the look that makes you feel good. TikTok users have taken her message to heart, creating glamorous looks for themselves in a new trend soundtracked by Eilish’s 2019 hit “bury a friend.” The trend focuses on a particularly discordant moment in the song, as Billie whispers “I want to end me” two times amidst chaotic synths. TikTok users take advantage of the synths to soundtrack their transformations, flipping their phone camera 360 degrees to highlight the dramatic effect. The sound has over 813k video creations, many of which coming in the past month, including a video by Charli D’Amelio where she shows off her impressive flexibility.
Doja Cat is another favorite of the TikTok community, which helped her song “Say So” (14 million+ video creations) climb to the top of the charts in 2020. The versatile artist is back in the Billboard Top 10 with “Kiss Me More,” her latest TikTok-trending hit. A collaboration with SZA, whose “Good Days” made waves on the platform earlier this year (130k creations), “Kiss Me More” started to trend on TikTok after Doja teased the track’s futuristic music video on her own page in April. With over 566.7K creations, the upbeat “Kiss Me More” is the perfect sound for those who wrap crystals, attempt to offset a fulfilling donut binge, and claim that they don’t have a type but deep down know they really do.
British-Nigerian rapper Little Simz is having a moment with her 2019 track “Venom.” The sound has racked up over 187.5K creations as the TikTok community uses it to soundtrack the ways they affirm their loved ones and themselves. TikTok users have turned to “Venom” when demonstrating how they stay loyal to a best friend, admire powerful Black female activists, or respond positively to impulsive personal makeover. With its feminist message and take-no-prisoners attitude, “Venom” is quickly becoming the most empowering song on TikTok.
A rising Latin superstar and self-described “demboss,” Dominican dembow virtuoso El Alfa’s down-and-dirty sound is perfect for the approaching summer months. The TikTok community has recently gravitated towards his fiery smash “La Mamá De La Mamá” (370k video creations) with its pitched-up vocals and entrancingly repetitive hook. The song features a guest spot from CJ, the man behind the TikTok-beloved “Whoopty,” and inspired a low-difficulty, but high energy dance trend. Unsurprisingly, some TikTok users have taken the song’s title to heart and invited their own mamás to participate in the trend.
An ethereal and haunting cult classic from 1975, Cortex’s jazz fusion cut “Huit octobre 1971” has long been a favorite of crate diggers. Famously sampled in songs by MF DOOM and Wiz Khalifa, the track is finding a second (or third) life on TikTok, with over 115k video creations since late March. First used as a sound by @monkeydmoody in a video that revealed his ten favorite animes, “Huit octobre 1971” eventually came to soundtrack a trend where TikTok users reveal their Top 10 or Bottom 10 of anything at all, and another where users reveal the unique pleasures and pains of being alive at this time in history.
TikTok is home to a bustling community of drummers who use the app to show off their skills or giving pointers on how to perfect the craft. One of the most beloved drummers on TikTok is Dorothea Taylor, known far and wide as the #godmotherofdrumming (28.5 million views on the hashtag). A teacher by trade and a church organist on Sundays, Dorothea first gained TikTok notoriety with her covers of songs by Disturbed and Slipknot. As popular as her covers are, she gets even more attention for her mastery of drumming fundamentals. Last week, Dorothea shared a video about how to play “doubles”, a drumming rudiment that requires perfect left-right coordination, generating over 22 million video views.