Did you know that the last time I did one of these lists was in 2010? Way before listicles were a trend, and way back when blogs where a thing, we had List Addicts Fridays where I’d list down 5 or more songs that thematically, had something in common. Nowadays, every site has their own top tens.
Since we’re at it again, what better way to get back into the game than to make a list about the latest player on social media – TikTok. If you’re like me and tried to drown out your anxiety of current world events with endless, mindless videos – you’ve delved into the time-consuming, energy-depleting blackhole that is TikTok. I admit, I have a love-hate relationship with this app. I love how there’s content for anyone and everyone, but it’s much too terrible for my productivity. After an almost three-hour marathon of TikTok viewing (where I quickly swiped away those ‘Hold up!’ videos reminding me that I’ve been on the app for too long) I did discover a silver-lining. TikTok has somehow, breathed new life to old songs – songs from the past that never did the get the recognition they deserved. With this, I present you my top 10 favourite songs that found a second life as viral TikTok video soundbytes:
1) Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros / Edith Whiskers
Before being a viral hit on TikTok, the 2010 song “Home” represented the peak of hipster-chic. This was the song that you’d imagine to be in a soundtrack of an indie rom-com. It had all the elements for an indie movie meet-cute: the typical jangly guitars, essential trumpets, a random accordion, and most importantly – whistles and claps. The original Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros song also beckoned late 50’s – early 60’s nostalgia by adding a conversation mid-song in the spirit of Mickey and Sylvia’s Love is Strange. After disappearing from the airwaves after the hipster-hype died down, it gained a new following 10 years later as a soundtrack for sentimental, wistful, and occasionally #cottagecore videos from TikTok. Not only did the original find a second wind, the 2015 cover by Edith Whiskers (aka UK musician Tom Rosenthal) which is a tender and more stripped down version, became the more popular version of the song in 2020 – allowing it to reach its viral status.
Fun fact: Did you know that before Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros officially released the single “Home”, it appeared in Community’s “Debate 109” episode?
2) Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root
90’s kids would remember this as a soundtrack to their childhood – perhaps, since it was also a soundtrack to the late 90’s and early 2000 kids movies Matilda and Ice Age. The song, released in 1995 by worldbeat band Rusted Root, was not a commercial success at that time, but has endeared itself to many a hearts of Gen Z kids as it seems to have gained new popularity on TikTok. You can typically hear this on any wholesome TikTok video – may it be in the background of someone pouring resin into a mould, making the perfect scrambled eggs, or just a happy tune to accompany cute pet antics. A remix of this song made by Vibe Street, has also been making the rounds on TikTok as well.
3) Hayloft by Mother Mother
No other song has gotten a better rebirth from TikTok than Vancouver band Mother Mother’s 2008 single “Hayloft”. This is one of three songs that have gone viral in the 2020’s for the band, whose album “O My Heart” has become popular again after 14 years of being released. Among their songs, “Hayloft” in particular is part of a TikTok trend being used in combination with the “ice in your veins” pose popularized by NBA Los Angeles Lakers player D’Angelo Russell. Dubbed as the “It Started with a Hey” challenge, TikTok users would make a video using the soundbyte consisting of the “it started with the hay..” part of “Hayloft” while comparing two types of people with completely opposite personalities – the latter making the “ice in your veins” pose to express that they’re telling their ‘truth’. As a person who belongs to the GenX set, this is all greek to me, but I am enjoying the fact that young teeny-boppers are getting exposed to a wider variety of songs even if it is via these weirdly confusing trends.
In response to the song’s resurgence, the band released a new video, a short film of sorts, depicting the events of “Hayloft” (seen above). This was actually very smart of them to do since the old video kind of screams late 2000’s with the Franz Ferdinand/White Stripes-like video effects – not at all very appealing to the young Gen Z demographic. They’ve also released a song sequel to Hayloft aptly called Hayloft II.
4) That’s Not My Name by The Ting Tings
Remember when The Ting Tings were on that Apple commercial? The one with dancing silhouettes? I do, because I’m old.
If you’re not as old as me, you’ve probably heard them on TikTok.
Recently, they’ve become relevant again with TikTok’s “That’s Not My Name” trend. The new challenge, where people are asked to make a video sharing the nicknames they’ve been called as in the past, has captured a slew of celebrities’ attention: everyone from Alicia Silverstone to Will Smith seems to have done one.
Not attached to any particular trend, Crystal Castles songs are slowly gaining traction again on TikTok. One song in particular is their 2008 remix of the GoodBooks song Leni. I love me some GoodBooks and I also love me some Crystal Castles, so I was pretty psyched when I heard this while browsing random videos. Interesting to note, the version that’s doing its rounds on TikTok right now is a sped up version of the song. Since it is gaining in popularity I’ll let you guys listen in to the original remix above and fully take in the pleasure of how we enjoyed this track back in the day.
6) Tongue Tied by Grouplove
Did you know that Tongue Tied had a “Glee” version? This might probably be where most people have heard of this song and the band that made it a hit: Grouplove. Apart from their 2011 breakout hit, Grouplove was also known as the band that sang that song from BoJack Horseman. But if you’re in the much much younger age set, you’ve definitely heard of them through TikTok. The song “Tongue Tied” was remixed by burned.toast420 and became this passing TikTok challenge where you use the audio with the last video on your camera roll and post it with the caption that says: “Apparently this sound matches perfectly with your last video”. I don’t get this trend, but if it’s actually making one of my favourite songs more popular, I’m not complaining.
7) Little Dark Age by MGMT
Unlike the Goodbooks/Crystal Castles song that was sped up to become popular in TikTok, this 2017 song by MGMT was slowed down when it was used as a TikTok trend. The slowed down version of the song was included in the 2020 Angel/Devil challenge, where TikTok users tried to make devil horns and angel halos with their hands using TikTok’s “time warp scan” effect. Results ranged from impressive to oftentimes hilarious. Either way, it successfully introduced a new generation of kids to the genius that is MGMT.
8) Spirits by The Strumbellas
“Spirits” is a folk rock song that was released in 2016 by Canadian band The Strumbellas. It gained viral popularity only recently when an edit of the song accompanied TikTok’s #thenvsnow challenge. In the challenge, TikTok users share a video of themselves in the past and cut to how they look like in the present while an edited version of “Spirits” play. The edit is a mashup between the beginning of the song which starts out as a simple guitar over vocals, and the middle of the song – an all out chorus with the whole band singing. The contrast of sound produces that “now and then” effect and works well to build up the dramatic transformation. Because of the popularity, The Strumbellas posted a new a lyric video on YouTube, a whole five years after the song’s initial release.
9) Electric Love by Børns
Børns “Electric Love” may have been released in 2014, but much like the other songs in this list, it only received much needed attention when it became part of a TikTok trend. The trend in question? The Kissing My Best Friend challenge. Based on how this challenge was named, you could imagine how many awkward situations this resulted in, as well as (possibly) many friendships destroyed.
10) Nobody by Mitski
By far, my most favourite song in this list and probably the best song to ever get popular during this pandemic, “Nobody” is a song created by Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski for her 2018 album “Be The Cowboy”. The song came about during a break from her Asia and Australia tour when she spent winter holidays in Malaysia – away from family and friends. The isolation, the stress, and the fact that she was in a different timezone from everyone she knew during one of the happiest times of the year, eventually got to her, and “Nobody” was born.
The song became TikTok viral in mid-2021 with TikTok content creators using the soundbyte of Mitski singing the word ‘nobody’ over and over with increasing intensity, as they pretended to (literally) run away from their problems. The song reached its viral height when Jimmy Fallon also got in with the trend and posted his own “Nobody” TikTok video.
There are dozens more that didn’t make the cut, but I’m sure there’ll be dozens more after this list gets published. By then, maybe I’ll do a part two.
In the meantime, if you’re on TikTok, try to pry yourself off while you still can.