Your favorite song is on TikTok and it sucks

Marit Erickson, Variety Editor

Yesterday, like any other day, I was scrolling through my For You page on TikTok when a certain video appeared to me. 

The video was an edit from Jordan Peele’s newest movie, “Nope”, featuring clips of actor Steven Yeun to the tune of “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys. 

As a cowboy-hat-clad Yeun flashed across my screen, I couldn’t help but feel happy. “West End Girls” is one of my favorite songs. I remember when my dad introduced me to the Pet Shop Boys as a kid. 

Then, horror struck. I clicked on the audio. Five thousand videos were already under the sound. Oh no, oh no, oh no. Song suicide was on the precipice. “West End Girls” was about to get the TikTok treatment. 

Songs will reach TikTok, and suddenly the same four verses are featured in the background of every DIY or day in the life, sped up, gutted, remixed, etc.

It feels like every month, the app clings to a new song.

“Bad Habit” by Steve Lacy is one of the latest victims. Lacy wrote an amazing song, but when one hears it a hundred times per day, there’s no way it can remain fresh. 

This is why we need to reconsider the effect TikTok has on music. 

When the only goal in mind is chart-topping (and equally money-making), TikTok seems to be the clear route. 

The current top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart are all songs popularly featured on TikTok. “Bad Habit” by the aforementioned Lacy has 511.5 thousand, “Unholy” by Sam Smith and Kim Petras has 721 thousand videos under its sound, and “As It Was” by Harry Styles has 2.5 million. 

As a record company, what would you prioritize? Heartfelt songwriting and creative composition, or a catchy chorus that can be made into a dance and earn you billions. 

“Toosie Slide” by Drake is a great example of this. The song was literally written to become a dance, with lyrics providing instructions such as, “right foot up, left foot slide.”

It’s not like every musician is throwing their talent out the window and selling their soul to capitalism. Still, if you want to get big, there’s really no better way than through TikTok. 

Furthermore, whether done intentionally by the artist or not, choruses of songs are being leaked on TikTok before the song is even fully released. This happened to SZA, Jack Harlow, and the City Girls most notably. 

Fans celebrate the snippet, begging the artist to release the rest of the song. In most circumstances, the full track is fairly disappointing. 

Jack Harlow’s “First Class” was lackluster compared to its chorus he had dropped months earlier. Of course it was, the chorus is arguably the best part of a song. It is literally the climax that each verse leads up to. 

I honestly think it’s a rollout tactic. Leaking the chorus is like making a trailer. The song will blow up because everyone is excited to hear more, then immediately feel let down upon realizing the highlight of the song has already been exposed to them. 

The product of this phenomenon, however, is a butchering of every morsel of integrity within the songwriting process. 

Reducing music down to its most exciting part, crowds of people only knowing three verses of a song. This is the fate we have created. 

It’s probably not that serious though, right? Not everyone uses TikTok, not everyone finds new music there.

Still, the path is laid out. The foundations for a new approach towards chart topping have been set. 

One can only hope their new favorite song doesn’t reach that godforsaken app and ruin it for them.