by Christine Pascal, January 31, 2023
Over the past few years, especially before and after the pandemic, TikTok has become more and more popular. This popularity has led to a tendency for videos to undermine the true meaning of art in songs and the gift of albums.
TikTok users prefer clips of songs under 15 seconds and use them as background music for their videos. Whether it’s in the context of a viral dance or to explain a story, many great songs are cut down to mere seconds and the rest of the lyrics seem irrelevant or unimportant.
As an avid music fan, this is frustrating. Music has always been a major part of my life, whether it’s attending concerts, listening to albums, or writing reviews for new releases. The true artistry of the song is lost due to TikTok trends.
One of the best examples of a song ruined by TikTok is Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit.” Users have taken small clips from the song, most notably the song’s first line, “I wish I knew, that you knew you wanted me.” TikTok users lip-synced his lyrics, created dances, and used the song as his background music to accompany the text of the video.
The case got worse when his new fans sold out his concerts after “discovering” him on TikTok, even though he’s been an artist since the late 2010s. They only knew the lyrics up to the chorus of the song. And at that point in the song, each one of them was recording in concert. These new fans didn’t have the same energy and excitement as when he performed his previous songs.
Another example of 2021 is when BROCKHAMPTON’s song “SUGAR” hits big. “SUGAR” was mostly dancing, so this was definitely worse than Lacy. At least “Bad Habit” has various videos featuring the song. On TikTok, when you click on a song, the video is usually his teen smiling and dancing to the chorus. The rest of the lyrics are drowned out by the popularity of the single line, which repeats like the chorus of “SUGAR.”
The most recent example is The Beatles’ John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy”. Many users took the chorus to Lennon’s song and shared the sweet moments they had with his father. The trend is fascinating, but the backstory behind the song is somber, as Lennon wrote the song for his younger son after he left his first wife and son.
Worst of all, the song’s best lines go unnoticed. These TikTok users are definitely subverting it by taking the chorus for fans who care about the song’s deeper meaning, and hearing the same lines on TikTok is all the more maddening.
I’m not saying TikTok is completely bad for artists. There are many talented and amazing artists who started their careers on social media platforms or posted TikTok videos to promote their music. One of his prime examples is Lil Nas X, who blew up after the song “Old Town Road.” Many people used the song and his new single on his TikTok. Lil Nas X has proven he’s more than just a one-hit wonder and has had several hit singles since.
But the difference between Lil Nas X and TikTok artists like Gail is that people actually like him and his music. Gail is like a factory in the industry where he got his five seconds of fame on TikTok. An industry plant is a music artist who works for a label., But they appear to stand alone. Gail put out a song called “abcdefu” and it sucks. The lyrics sound like they were written with the intention of going viral on TikTok, and the melody isn’t original.
Nonetheless, she has accompanied Taylor Swift on several tour dates. Gail has received a lot of backlash from Swift’s fans because her other tour guests include talented artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Gracie Abrams.
I lost my true appreciation for music because of TikTok. A video that lacks creativity and originality is accompanied by a great song. The more videos I post for a particular song, the more it becomes a trend, and when I hear that song, all I can think of is the trend that comes with it.
Artists are starting to write songs and make music with TikTok in the back of their minds.Music used to tell a story, but thanks to TikTok, songs are losing their connection to the album as a whole., It has been reduced to a short clip that simply serves as background noise.
Feature image by Lauren Wong