Ah TikTok, whether you love it or hate it, its effect on the music industry cannot be understated. TikTok’s ability to make a song blow up, firmly nestling it into our limbic systems for better or for worse, is one of the foundational parts of the app — and whether or not music labels buying in to that phenomenon is good or bad is a topic for another article. But the virality of a song cannot be understated and on TikTok, it feels like anything is fair game.
We’re only six months into 2022, so its still too early for a yearly round up, but there’s just been so many songs seeing a rise in popularity that it doesn’t feel fair to wait until December. This year so far, we’ve seen damn near everything pop off: From major artists like new tracks from powerhouses Harry Styles and Lizzo to sultry throwbacks from Nelly Furtado and Kate Bush being the centre of newfound popularity. Here is a roundup of some of the best songs that have gone viral on TikTok so far in 2022.
Nelly Furtado – Say It Right (2006)
“Say It Right” was always a staple in mid-2000s R&B, but the song went viral in 2022 when user jamie23bsh danced to a sped up version of it in his bathroom mirror, racking up 425 million views as of June 2022. Other TikTok users were quick to hop on the video, making their own versions dancing in front of their bathroom mirrors. Brittany Broski (you know, Kombucha girl) also posted a video dancing to the song, which was stitched by rapper Doja Cat, duetted with pop/alt fusion band HAIM, and finally duetted by Furtado herself.
Taylor Swift – Right Where You Left Me (2020)
Before releasing her absolutely massive re-recorded versions of Fearless and Red, Taylor Swift released folk-inspired sister albums Folklore and Evermore during the thick of the pandemic in 2020. The latter featured a bonus track titled “Right Where You Left Me,” which began going viral a few months ago due to the line “I stayed there,” where users revisit a painful memory of a celebrity couple breaking up, an emotional moment from a TV show or movie, or something nostalgic from their childhood.
Frank Ocean – Lost (2012)
User have been shuffling their feet to this song from Frank Ocean’s 2012 album Channel Orange for the past few months — the track features a dance where TikTokers shift their weight across their heels and toes (it’s a lot easier than it sounds).
Daft Punk – Around The World (1997)
The Around the World trend sees TikTok users spinning in a circle while the person filming them revolves in the opposite direction. Throw in some slo-mo here and there, and boom, you have an aesthetic video with a clever punch line like “The world doesn’t revolve around you.” A sped up version of Daft Punk’s 1997 banger “Around The World” is the soundtrack for this trend.
Dove Cameron – Boyfriend (2022)
In a bold and bizarre move, Disney Channel star turned singer-songwriter Dove Cameron pulled most of her music catalogue from streaming services earlier this year. This was almost definitely a response to her song “Boyfriend” blowing up this past spring, with some attention to the track coming from TikTok. There’s no particular trend or gag corresponding to the song — people just seem to dig it.
Engelbert Humperdinck – A Man Without Love (1968)
Moon Knight fans have already been privy to this song already, but TikTokers picked up on it after the show used it score some early episodes. A popular TikTok audio has edited static in between the end of the verse and the chorus, a reference to how Oscar Isaac’s Stephen Grant/Marc Spector transitions between identities. This let users (like Guy Fieri) illustrate how their lives changed over a period of time, usually before the pandemic to present day.
Jack Harlow – First Class (2022)
Jack Harlow’s “First Class” samples Fergie’s “Glamorous” and began blowing up on TikTok when Harlow posted a video of himself working on the song in a studio. Before the song was officially released, users were quick to pick up how Harlow cleverly used the sample — referring to himself as a “G,” throwing up the “L,” and having sex in the “A.M.”
Niki Watkins – The Joke is On You (2010)
A never-released song written for a Nickelodeon show has no business being this much of a banger. “The Joke is On You” was written for the sitcom iCarly’s prank filled episode “iGet Pranky,” and was performed by Niki Watkins. TikTok users dipped into their own nostalgia and revived the song’s chorus — “You think it’s all over? Then the joke is on you” — to soundtrack the punchline to a funny memory or an awkward life event.
Harry Styles – As It Was (2022)
TikTok was incredibly receptive to Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” which features staccato synths ripped from Julian Casablancas’ work with the Strokes. The song, which serves as the lead single from his third album Harry’s House, is good and Gen Z loves them some Harry Styles, so it was only a matter of time before the song hit its stride on TikTok. A similarly well-trending sound (which also slaps) features Styles’ “As It Was” remixed with Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Deja Vu.”
Lizzo – About Damn Time (2022)
Lizzo began the rollout of her fourth studio album Special by releasing the lead single “About Damn Time” in April, and TikTok has been eating it up ever since. Gizmodo research indicates that Jaeden Gomez is the originator of the corresponding dance (Rolling Stone is also reporting this), and Lizzo herself made a TikTok jokingly calling out those who aren’t putting enough effort into the choreography.
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) (1985)
One of Kate Bush’s most popular songs is seeing a huge resurgence in popularity, almost four decades after it was released. “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)“ was featured in an incredibly emotional and pivotal scene in Stranger Things’ massive fourth season, and it didn’t take TikTok users too long to make spoofs and parodies of the scene. The new found popularity of the song, which was featured on Bush’s 1985 album Hounds of Love, reached a new peak of 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2022, introducing the pop stylings of Kate Bush to a new generation of music listeners.
Abba – Angeleyes (1979)
ABBA released “Angeleyes” in 1979, and a remixed version of the track has been making the rounds on TikTok this year. Specifically, the lyric “Sometimes when I’m lonely, I sit and think about him,” has been used as a punchline by users as they reflect on an embarrassing memory, piece of nostalgia from their childhood, or some previous bit of internet humour.
Berlin – Take My Breath Away (1986)
Top Gun: Maverick has TikTok users by the throat, as Miles Teller’s beach dance and mustache have gone absolutely viral. So too has the song “Take My Breath Away,” which was performed by American new-wave band Berlin for the original movie.
Duke & Jones with Louis Theroux – Jiggle Jiggle (2000/2022)
British documentarian Louis Theroux appeared on the YouTube interview show Chicken Shop Date earlier in February 2022, where he recounted his time rapping in an episode of his docuseries Weird Weekends in 2000. In April 2022, a TikTok audio by Duke & Jones went viral thanks to a dance created by user jessqualter and popularised by Riverdale stars Camila Mendes, Lili Reinhardt, and Madelaine Petsch, which features the audio of Louis Theroux rapping on Chicken Shop Date.
Gotye & Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know (2011)
This song from Australian and Kiwi musicians Gotye and Kimbra, respectively, was all the rage in the early 2010’s pop scene, which was dominated by indie and alternative acts. A sped up version of “Somebody That I Used To Know” was posted to TikTok in March, and lately a cute little 8-bar dance has been created to match the tune.
SUPERFRUIT – GUY.EXE (2017)
“GUY.EXE” by the duo SUPERFRUIT is all about creating your dream guy from scratch, and a sped up remix of the song started popping off on TikTok in May. The remix of the song was originally uploaded on May 9 by user onecuppateaplease, who made an edit of Timothee Chalamet as Paul in the 2021 film Dune and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. As the it-boys of young Hollywood, it’s very topical.