People are getting tired of the ‘TikTok music formula’

When artist Leah Kate posted a snippet of her upcoming song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little B—-,” on TikTok this month, the video sparked an immediate reaction.

The song interpolates the melody from the nursery rhyme “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. “Twinkle twinkle, little [expletive]just another narcissist,” Leah Kate sings in a message to her “cheating ex.” “I hate your guts, you make me sick, I’m so [expletive] Above!”

But viewers weren’t impressed. “The same TikTok songs over and over again,” one viewer commented on Leah Kate’s video. “I’m so tired of TikTok music,” another commenter wrote.

While TikTok is known for granting up-and-coming artists unprecedented access to fame, jaded users claim it spawns a specific style of pop music — and they’re done.

Songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little B—-” have saturated TikTok for the past two years, and some users are complaining about their lack of originality. TikTok users have described the style – which often incorporates nostalgic melodies and sketchy lyrics – as “made to go viral”, criticizing the “TikTok musical formula” many songs follow. Users began calling similar songs the “crazy Disney genre” and “if Disney adults were music”.

The review follows years of mundane pop songs dominating users’ For You pages. The app’s impact on the music industry is monumental, as record labels increasingly rely on it to tap into new talent. Some labels reportedly encouraged their existing artists to go viral before releasing new music.

Songwriter and creative consultant Andrea Stolpe, who also teaches pop music writing techniques at the University of Southern California and Berklee College of Music, said the so-called TikTok music formula can create music that sounds like other popular songs but often lacks authenticity. listeners can connect.

“We confuse the initial ability to imitate — and then maybe add a few words to shock — with art,” Stolpe said.

Growing disdain for artists’ lack of originality

As more artists try to find success on the app, TikTok viewers are becoming more vocal in their criticism of non-original music.

Salem Ilese had success with the 2020 song “Mad at Disney”, which racked up over 250 million Spotify streams. But some critics lamented her next song, in which she sang “2020 is over with 2021,” as “made to go.” viral on TikTok music. Salem Ilese did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taylor Gayle Rutherford, known by her stage name Gayle, went viral last year with the song ‘abcdefu’ after a TikTok user asked her to ‘write a breakup song using the alphabet’ . She replied with a seemingly spontaneous “ABCDEFU / And your mother and your sister and your job / And your broke-[expletive] car and that [expletive] you call art.

TikTok users accused Rutherford, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, of being an ‘industry factory’ – the catch-all term for artists who present themselves as new or independent but are backed by industry connections – after online The sleuth revealed the commentator was a marketing executive at Atlantic Records.

TikTok users criticized Savana Santos’ song “Like A Woman” this year for including a pejorative term for lesbians.

Santos, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, previously went viral for the song “F2020,” which she released as part of girl group Avenue Beat. The LGBTQ creators expressed concern that “Like A Woman” presented sexuality as a choice, pointing to the lyrics “But that’s what’s hot in 2022 / You can change it and rock it whatever you want” . [expletive] as you wish.

Some have compared the songwriting and composition to that of “Mad at Disney” and “Abcdefu”. “If you’re gonna write a homophobic song, at least make it good or catchy,” a TikTok creator captioned a video reacting to the song.

By the time Leah Kate released a preview of her new song, many TikTok listeners were fed up. Some other creators have even parodied his song with videos about creating similar music.

Leah Kate, who did not respond to an interview request, appeared to predict a backlash to her music. In the caption of a TikTok video, she wrote, “Watch me get slammed on the internet for a song I wrote called ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little B—-.’

Breaking down the “TikTok music formula”

Stolpe, the songwriting teacher, said she wasn’t surprised by the growing disdain for TikTok’s “breakup anthems” like “abcdefu” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little B—-“.

New songwriters tend to write about anger or betrayal, “because those are emotional high points,” Stolpe said. The art, however, is honed by exploring deeper vulnerabilities, not by being relatable.

Writing a “good” song, Stolpe said, takes “a lot of time” and “hundreds” of drafts.

Musicians can be influenced by other songwriters, but listeners can tell the difference between inspiration and overt imitation, she said.

Adam Tyler, known as callinallgamers, slammed “TikTok singer-songwriters using nursery rhymes and ‘relatable’ lyrics to try to blast their music” with a swear-laden version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.

Creator karz_2 broke down the “blueprint” for “crazy disney genre” songs in another video. After choosing a “nostalgic” melody from a Disney nursery rhyme or song, she said to “subvert it in the most basic way possible just by swearing to talk about it”. She also recommended researching an ex-boyfriend and referring to the year so people “know the song is new.”

“And finally, the delivery should be like you’re doing an impression of Billie Eilish and Machine Gun Kelly and neither of you succeed,” she continued before launching into an interpretation. from “Hickory Dickory Dock”.

If you’re going to write a song about something we all know, give us a new angle to explore the feelings, the experience.”

Shanaz Dorset, songwriting teacher

Songwriting teacher Shanaz Dorsett stitched together a video that bashed the genre, saying the style “kinda sucks” because the writers “force themselves to be relatable”. It’s the songwriter’s job to “describe the human condition,” Dorsett said in the video.

“If you’re going to write a song about something we all know, give us a new angle to explore the feelings, the experience,” Dorsett said.

TikTok users have grown increasingly cynical about the music industry’s online presence, with many pointing to some posts by artists that seemed inauthentic.

Halsey claimed this week her label wouldn’t let her release a new song unless ‘they can fake a viral moment on TikTok’, sparking theories that complaining about having to promote the song was part of a marketing ploy wider. Neither she nor her label immediately responded to requests for comment.

Charli XCX, who posted a similar video alleging her record label made her post eight TikTok videos in one week, has debunked her own claims. “Not me – I was just lying for fun”, Charli XCX wroteresponding to a tweet of artists’ screenshots complaining about pressure from their labels to be more active on TikTok.

When pop-punk girl group Tramp Stamps began promoting their music last year, viewers immediately accused the group of being “industry factories” after discovering its members’ ties to big names. labels and accused them of faking their alternative feminist image. The band did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some on TikTok claim that virality can be manufactured because creators get paid to use certain songs. TikTok also facilitates paid partnerships by connecting creators with brands and artists.

Amid the cynicism, the demand for authenticity on TikTok remains. Viewers may be quick to judge a song as resembling viral predecessors or accuse the creators of faking their styles instead of truly expressing themselves.

“I think there’s a nice resolve in the culture right now for authenticity and honesty,” Stolpe said. “When we start to feel like there’s a formula, I think it should be said, and at the same time, as writers, we have to be able to imitate to really get something that can stand the test. time and something that is truly an authentic expression of us.

Stolpe recommends songwriters listen to criticism, even if it’s uncomfortable.

“See if you can handle and use those harsh, sometimes very, very honest comments,” Stolpe said. “Because that will be the test of whether you can develop your artistry beyond those initial feelings that are easier to access.”

Leave a Comment