Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

TikTok ruins music

By Kristine Pascual, Jan. 31, 2023

Over the last few years, specifically around the pandemic, TikTok has gained more and more popularity. This popularity has led to video trends that have ruined the art of a song’s true meaning, and the gift of an album.

TikTok users have taken a liking to using a 15-second-or-shorter clip of a song and using that as background music for their video. Whether it is a backdrop for a viral dance, or to explain a story, many amazing songs have been reduced to a mere few seconds, making the rest of the lyrics seem irrelevant or unimportant.

As a dedicated music fan, this is irritating. Music has always been a major part of my life, whether it be attending concerts, listening to albums on end or even writing reviews on new releases. The true art of a song has been diminished by TikTok trends.

One of the best examples of a song being ruined by TikTok is Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit.” Users took little clips from the song, the most prominent being the first line of the song, “I wish I knew, I wish I knew you wanted me.” TikTok users were lip-syncing his lyrics, creating dances and using the song as background music to accompany the text in the video.

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

This case worsened when his newer fans sold out his concerts after “discovering” him from TikTok, despite him being an artist since the late 2010s. They only knew the lyrics to the hook of the song. And at that point in the song, every single person was recording at the concert. These new fans did not hold the same energy and excitement when he performed his older songs.

Another example from 2021, is when BROCKHAMPTON’s song, “SUGAR,” blew up. This was arguably worse than with Lacy because “SUGAR” was primarily danced to. At least “Bad Habit” has a variety of videos using the song. On TikTok, when you click on the song, videos are typically teenagers smiling and dancing to the chorus. The rest of the lyrics get drowned out from the popularity of the single line that is heard repeatedly, like in the chorus for “SUGAR.”

The most recent example is “Beautiful Boy,” by John Lennon of The Beatles.Many users are taking the chorus to Lennon’s song to share nice moments they experienced with their fathers. This trend is endearing, but the backstory behind the song is somber, as Lennon wrote this song for his second son after leaving his first wife and son.

The worst part of it all is that the best lines of the song go unnoticed. These TikTok users are taking the chorus and arguably destroying it for fans who care about the deeper meaning of a song. Hearing the same lines on TikTok starts to become aggravating.

It is not to say that TikTok is completely bad for artists. There are many amazing and talented artists that got their start on the social media platform or got a leg up from posting TikTok videos to promote their music. One prime example is Lil Nas X, who blew up after his song, “Old Town Road.” Lots of people were using that song and his newer singles in their TikToks. Lil Nas X proved that he was not just a one hit wonder and has since then come out with several hit singles.

But the difference between Lil Nas X and a TikTok artist like Gayle is that people actually like him and his music. It appears that Gayle is an industry plant, who gained her five seconds of fame via TikTok. An industry plant is a musical artist that works for a label, but presents themselves as independent. Gayle came out with a song called, “abcdefu,” and it is atrocious. The lyrics sound like they were written with the purpose of going viral on TikTok, and the melody is unoriginal.

Despite this, she is accompanying Taylor Swift on a couple of her tour dates. Gayle has received a lot of backlash from Swift fans since her other tour guests include talented artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Gracie Abrams.

True appreciation for music has gotten lost through TikTok. Videos that lack creativity and originality are being accompanied by great songs. The more videos are posted to certain songs, the more the music begins to blend in with the trend, and suddenly the only thing that comes to mind when hearing the song is the trend that goes along with it.

Artists are beginning to write and create music with the thought of TikTok in the back of their heads. Music was once about storytelling and thanks to TikTok, songs are losing their connection to the overall album, and are being reduced to short clips that merely act as background noise.

Feature image by Lauren Wong

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