How do Songs Blow up on TikTok?
BY AVNI MISHRA '23
With short, attention-grabbing videos, TikTok has millions of users. The app features “sounds”: song clips or audios that creators often lay over videos of them doing anything their creativity conjures. The more a sound is used, the more recognizable it becomes, allowing songs to blow up on the app. To acquire TikTok stardom, a writer must create a song with attributes that users are likely to incorporate into their videos; these qualities are danceability, lyrics, and overall catchiness.
Dancing is one of the most popular genres of content on TikTok, attracting the app's biggest stars like Charli D’Amelio. Because users can easily choreograph to high bpms and high energy sounds, these songs have massive appeal.
Lyrics are also a huge part of a song’s potential. Simple directions and one liners can be used to create a wide range of content. With BMW Kenny’s “Wipe It Down,” for example, users pretend to wipe a mirror to the beat of the song, and in one frame when their hand moves across the mirror, they cut to a clip of them in a different outfit, just to switch back on the next beat. Lyrics are also used to create memes; using Young M.A. & Fivio Foreign’s “Hello Baby,” creators describe an unfavorable—and probably relatable—scenario, followed by a witty solution and the line “Boom-baow that’s how you fix that.”
The last aspect that increases a song’s chances of success is its general catchiness. Mindlessly listening to the same snippet hundreds of times can wedge songs into the back of our brains until you have to find it. Songs that fit this category are more general, considering the wide range of aesthetics and vibes each creator may vibe with.
In addition to song composition, a famous star associated with the song often boosts it. Established artists like Doja Cat have frequent hits; “Kiss Me More” exploded with 2.8 million videos. Charli D'Amelio, TikTok’s largest creator, posted a video of her dancing to the song “driver’s license” by Olivia Rodrigo. The song had started gaining traction before the video was posted, but the TikTok star’s inclusion of the song launched it into further popularity, and it now has a billion streams on Spotify.
Ultimately, there is no exact formula to follow to guarantee success on TikTok. Many times, songs that don’t “fit the bill” still find themselves gaining massive popularity. If there is one thing I’ve learned from using Tik Tok, it’s that understanding exactly how Gen Z’s interests work is a fruitless endeavor.