TikTok killed the radio star

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

Whether we like it or not, social media has become an integral part of this generation’s experience. It’s a place where anyone can have their 15 minutes of fame, showcase their talent for free and start grassroots movements of music and culture. That’s where artists like Steve Lacy, Conan Gray, Mac Miller, Clairo and more got their start. YouTube and Soundcloud have played a huge part in boosting the introverted, creative types onto a world stage.

However, TikTok is where uniqueness and creativity go to die.

TikTok rewards music that’s made for 15-second dance clips, specifically tailored to cater to our ever-deteriorating attention spans. A catchy hook is all you need to go viral and have your song topping Billboard and Spotify charts, no matter how the rest of the song sounds.

Case in point: “abcdefu” by Gayle, the most tired and repetitive song to come out of the app’s epidemic strain of nursery rhyme-inspired brain rot. Leah Kate’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little B—-” is another good example of this. As if anyone needed another tune about a breakup or a dude with a piece of junk for a car who dates a new girl to make his ex jealous — so jealous, in fact, that she has to write a song about it. At least it sounded good when Avril Lavigne did that and wasn’t set to the tune of something so simple that only toddlers listen to it.

Not to mention songs like Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” which have begun to use actual slang from the app, mixed in with designer name drops and overdone lyrics about partying. “About Damn Time” unleashed the phrase “Balenci-ussy” into the world, and it was never the same again.

It’s no surprise. The very purpose of the platform’s algorithm is to push content people are statistically proven to like, comment on, share and otherwise interact with. When music gets formulaic and bland — when we get clones of Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish and made-to-order artists like Lil Huddy — the only thing to do is close the app. Go to Spotify, listen to something really good and try to remember when “good” was the standard and not an exception.