TikTok’s community-driven approach to content lends itself to unpredictability. Though the community at large has favorite artists, users do not pre-judge music based on the age of the song, the starpower of the artist, or the song’s genre–a banger is a banger. In recent weeks, some seemingly niche artists, songs, and genres have made major moves on the platform and on the music scene at large. Check below for new trends from a new major pop star, rising rappers, drunken sailors, and more:
- TikTok users love themselves some Texas rap. Artists like Megan Thee Stallion, BeatKing, TisaKorean, and 10k.Caash rank among the Texan emcees who’ve had success on the platform. Dallas native Erica Banks looks to be the next Lone Star State rapper to win the hearts and minds of the TikTok community. Her new single “Buss It” is one of the most popular songs on the app, with over 600k creations and over 1 billion views in just the past week. The track came to prominence in a challenge that mashes up the single with Nelly’s immortal “Hot In Herre,” inspiring TikTok users, including popular users like Bella Poarch and Lele Pons, to transition from drab attire to glamorous couture and drop it low.
- Last year, country star Morgan Wallen used an early snippet released on TikTok to build momentum for his song “7 Summers,” scoring a Billboard Top 10 debut for his single in the process. When he learned that some tracks from his album Dangerous leaked online, he decided to take matters into his own hands, sharing snippets of Dangerous songs as TikTok sounds. The snippet for the album’s title track generated over 2 million video views, and generated 6k creates from fans eager to hear the full song and the rest of the album.
- Singer Olivia Rodrigo is one of TikTok’s fastest-growing stars, gaining over 800k followers in just the past week. The 17-year-old singer is currently trending with her new song “driver’s license,” which has over 150k creates since Olivia posted a video explaining the story behind the song on Friday, generating over 17 million views. Thanks in part to its TikTok virality, “driver’s license” reached #1 on iTunes’ all-genre charts, and more importantly to Olivia, earned a co-sign from Taylor Swift.
- Beloved by critics for their winding guitar melodies and the stream-of-consciousness vocal delivery of frontwoman Sue Tompkins, Scottish indie band Life Without Buildings have always been an underground concern. Enter the TIkTok community, who’ve turned their 2001 song “The Leanover” into one of the platform’s most unlikely hits ever. Since it started trending over the holidays, “The Leanover” and its frenzied repetition of “If I lose you” and “to her” inspired more than 60k video creations, including a video from indie star beabadoobee, lending its wistful immediacy to everything from bold hair bleaching decisions, dreary car rides, and expressive free-form dancing. The TikTok success of “The Leanover” spurred the song to the top ten of Spotify’s UK Viral 50 chart, and helped Life Without Buildings increase their Spotify monthly listenership by over 200k.
- The TikTok community loves a good cover song, especially one that takes the original material in an unexpected direction (e.g. Ritt Momney’s cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On,” a surprise hit in 2020). In recent days, several covers have made an impact on the platform. Last week, Tom Rosenthal thanked the TikTok community for helping his cover of Edward Sharpe’s “Home” (763k video creations) generate over 19 million streams on Spotify. Over the holidays, talkbox virtuoso Carson Elliott generated over 59 million video views on his cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” driving his follower count above the 4 million mark and inspiring over 322k romantic TikTok users to use it in their own videos. Most recently, Kim Dracula found a way to make Lady Gaga even more dramatic with his screamo-trap cover of “Paparazzi” (172k creates), which is the TIkTok community’s favored soundtrack for showing off their fitness gains.
- The TikTok 2020 Music Report proved that music of all genres can find an audience on TikTok, but the success of #ShantyTok truly hammers that point home. That’s right mateys, Sea Shanties are having a moment on TikTok, making waves with users eager to show off their voices as well as those just looking to vibe. The salty sea dog most responsible for the surprising shanty surge is Scottish singer Nathan Evans, who won the community’s hearts and minds with rousing acapella-and-hand-percussion
renditions of shanties like “The Scotsman” and “The Wellerman.” The latter of which has taken off on the platform, with users of all vocal ranges using TikTok’s duet function to add their own harmonies. The #SeaShanty community is a niche, but a sizable and growing one–the hashtag has over 63 million video views, and “The Wellerman” climbed into the Top 20 of the Spotify U.S. Viral 50 chart.
TikTok flattens the borders that used to exist between meme culture and the mainstream, creating a liminal space that can elevate niche subcultures into prominence. As TikTok continues to mature, it will continue to create a feedback loop between the platform and the culture-at-large, boosting unlikely music and filtering pop hits through its funhouse mirror. There’s no telling what will spark the community’s creativity next.