Like it or not, TikTok now possesses the widespread power to send a song into the stratosphere. ‘Old Town Road’ wouldn’t have been the all-consuming hit that it was without the app’s help; other stars like Doja Cat owe a lot of their fame to their songs being used for dance routines on it.
TikTok doesn’t leave out older music though. Gen Z users, upon discovering an older song, now have the ability to make that song rise to life again. Seriously, nothing is too random: a supremely twee song by sisters Patience and Prudence from 1956 even made it onto the platform, reappropriated as an anthem for teenagers.
Check out our list below of five other examples of old songs that TikTok has weirdly made famous again. Did we miss any out?
Aly & AJ – ‘Potential Breakup Song’ (2007)
Sisters Alyson and Amanda Michalka (the former was in Disney’s Phil of the Future, if you remember that incredible show) enjoyed success in the 2010’s with their sincere pop rock. It was one of their singles from that time, 2007’s ‘Potential Breakup Song’, the powerful lyrical content of this track was always ripe for a viral comeback. In November 2020, it saw a resurgence on TikTok, so much so that the sisters promptly re-recorded the song with explicit lyrics. One year later, they dropped their first album in 14 years. When you get back into the zeitgeist, you’ve got to ride it.
The Caretaker – Everywhere at the End of Time (2016)
The most esoteric inclusion on this list (and technically a record), The Caretaker is the long-running project of Leyland James Kirby. He’s released some of the most intensely moving and melancholic ambient music ever created, including An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, which used modified samples of ballroom jazz records to portray the feeling of alzheimer’s sufferers remembering the music of their youth (it’s heartbreakingly haunting). It was his epic Everywhere at the End of Time that went viral on TikTok though: the six-and-a-half-hour journey into the different stages of dementia was taken up as a challenge by TikTokers aiming to listen to the entire collection while documenting their experience. Some said it was disrespectful; the fact that teenager were devoting themselves to such challenging art proves otherwise.
Marina – ‘Primadonna’ (2012)
Welsh artist Marina (formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds) remade ‘Material Girl’ for millennials with great success almost a decade ago. It’s sugar-coated electropop was perfect for TikTok and several lines in the song were ideal for trends on the app: “I really don’t know why it’s such a big deal though” was extremely pitched down to make a sassy dismissal of a user’s haters. Who said that Gen Z don’t like the millennial vibe?
Fleetwood Mac – ‘Dreams’ (1977)
You all knew this one was coming. The world’s most chilled man, Nathan Apodaca, didn’t let his truck breaking down get to him. Instead, he hopped on his skateboard, drunk some Ocean Spray, while lip-syncing to ‘Dreams’ and thus a legend was made. Known as @Doggface208, he now has 3.1 million followers on Instagram. He even has his own range of merchandise. Members of Fleetwood Mac including Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood responded to the TikTok and Apodaca’s original spawned hundreds of imitators. There’s one thing we can all agree on though: ‘Dreams’ is just a ridiculously good song.
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Mother Mother – ‘Hayloft’ (2009)
Several songs, including ‘Hayloft’, from Mother Mother’s 2007 album O My Heart suddenly went viral in 2020, despite the Canadian rockers not releasing any music in two years. The reason, it turned out, was rather sweet: the band’s music and lyrics had resounded with the LGBTQI and non-binary community, who started making TikToks of themselves discussing gender and fashion while the likes of ‘Hayloft’ played over the video. The band’s lead singer, Ryan Guldemond, has a noticeably androgynous singing style, and their lyrics include lines such as ”Cos I’ve grown tired of this body / A cumbersome and heavy body’.