Photo: Haulix Daily
Photo: Haulix Daily

Social media has played an important role when it comes to songs going viral and getting thousands of streams. More recently, stream boosts have come from TikTok influencers with large followings like Addison Rae and Charlie D’Amelio, who have surpassed the 70k followers. Truth be told, there's a bit of an art to getting songs to go viral, according to Teen Vouge.

“Since the video clips can only be 15 seconds long, the app only plays a short segment of the featured song. The audio content of TikTok videos is the song itself and not the user singing, rapping or talking over it, meaning songs with clever or quotable lyrics tend to be the most popular,” Ana Monroy Yglesias writes for Grammy. “While some tracks that make waves on the platform may be fun and catchy and continue to gain traction in its whole form on streaming platforms and the like, what is most important in successful TikTok hits are the catchy bars that hook people in and allow them to use their bodies and facial expressions — from dance moves, costume changes, creative makeup and more — to put themselves in the song.”

Not only do these TikTokers help songs get mainstream attention, but the dances going along with them are a plus. Here is a list of top 11 songs which have caught the attention of users all over the globe.

"Hell n Back," by Bakar

This dreamy 2019 song from London's Bakar became a sleeper hit in the US this year. An indie rock innovator (with a lovely voice that's strikingly similar to Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke's), Bakar seamlessly mixes indie with bits of ska and doo-wop based on his slight rap and buoyant horns. It's like the warm glow of the sun pushing through the clouds after a rain storm, as he describes the somber place he was in before he met his lover. TikTokers have found the sunniness in it, too, Thrillist cites.

“Say So” by Doja Cat

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

This song was already known but it became ten times more popular once cute dance moves were attached to it. TikTok star Haley Sharpe created the dance, because of her more than one million followers, it instantly became viral. The most iconic part about this dance was when Doja invited Sharpe to her video of “Say So,” where they both recreated the steps. The song continued to be one of the most popular on TikTok for weeks after that.

“Powfu” by death bed

This particular song has been paired with TikToks about coffee, because of its lyrics. It is a sweet, high-pitched song that goes in hand with Instagram filtered stories about an espresso cup. Perfect for foodies who want an aesthetically pleasing song to go with their filters.

“Lottery” by K Camp

Just like “Say So” by Doja, this song has been paired with the perfect choreography to make it viral. The original choreographer is Jalaiah Harmon, but she did not get recognition for her dance moves until the song became extremely popular. If you do not know which song it is you will recognize it by the part “renegade, renegade”.

"Sugar" by Brockhampton

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

Shout out to Gen Z for recognizing the greatness that is Brockhampton and making them the success story that they've become. If you have yet to check out the self-described boy band made up of an entire rap/art collective, they already have five albums to their name so there's more than enough of their diverse, alt hip-hop to get into. "SUGAR," off their most recent record GINGER, has taken off on TikTok and although it doesn't go as hard as some Brockhampton songs, it shines where it's stripped back and utilizes the crooners in the group's voices to sound like a '90s R&B hit.

"Candy," Doja Cat

Doja Cat is basically the queen of TikTok. While the singer/rapper has been making waves online with attention-grabbing videos like "Mooo!" for a while now, TikTok helped to propel her to success this year with her '70s-Esque "Say So" taking off on the app and becoming a prime example of a viral-made mega-hit. Chances are you've heard that sweet pop number at least a thousand times by now, since that song and dance number are practically TikTok canon, so you should check out another hit on the app of hers, "Candy." While it was actually released back in 2018, it's inspired choreography like "Say So." About a sly seductress with a sticky beat, it's the kind of addicting song that'll give you a cavity.

"Dreams," Fleetwood Mac

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

This 1977 hit needs no introduction. Bless viral star Nathan Apodaca for its resurgence, though, with his totally blissed-out TikTok of him listening to the song while skateboarding and drinking Ocean Spray. Since the video blew up in fall 2020, the song charted again for the first time in decades and introduced a new generation to the classic rock band. Despite being a severely bitter breakup song on their seminal Rumours—the record the group famously made as they were all ending their romantic relationships with one another—it remains absolutely hypnotizing.

"In the Party," Flo Milli

When you listen to 20-year-old, LA-based rapper Flo Milli, her fast-spewing rhymes in her signature cutesy voice make it feel as if you're hanging out with her and she's gossiping your ear off. It's what she manages to do on her song "In the Party," joined by a beat that sounds especially saccharine as it loops her vocals into a nursery rhyme-like "la la la." Made up of great, domineering lines about how she secures men, the song was basically meant to take off on TikTok with its very lip sync-able moments. (That is, if you can keep up with her bars.)

"Lemonade," Internet Money

A chill song that soundtracks a wide variety of videos, "Lemonade" might be the first song you've heard from Internet Money—or, at least, the first you know of from the recording collective founded producer by Taz Taylor. They've also worked on Drake, Lil Baby, and Trippie Redd tracks, and it probably won't be the last time you're hearing from them. This song, which wrangles other trending names in hip-hop including Gunna, is icy and entrancing, pairing the featured artists' melodic voices with an acoustic guitar that carries the beat. In the way that music today has a fetish for defying genre, this song does that in the best, trendiest way possible.

"Drivers License," Olivia Rodrigo

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

This song seemingly came out of nowhere in early 2021 and immediately started breaking records—like becoming the most-streamed song on Spotify in a single day ever. No, it didn't come from a pop mainstay, but it also didn't totally come out of nowhere. "Drivers License" is the debut of Gen Z Disney darling Olivia Rodrigo and a damn perfect pop power ballad. Her fans familiar with her from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series helped it take off, and obviously they took it to TikTok to work through all the emotions it evokes (and try to investigate the teen star love triangle behind it). It turns an act of melancholic malaise—driving past an ex's house—into the high-stakes phase of high school heartbreak that it is. Trickled in with production resonant of Lorde's Melodrama, it's the gleaming debut of a pop wunderkind.

“Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion

At the top of the year, Megan Thee Stallion released this song, which got its own TikTok choreography soon after. Keara Wilson, the dancer behind the choreography, had an impact so big with the dance that she became one of Teen Vogue's 21 Under 21. Later on during the year, Megan surprised us with a remix with another famous H-town native, the one and only, Beyoncé.

TikTok already feels like one big joke that anyone outside of Gen-Z doesn't understand–and it doesn't help that it's largely built around music that only the teens are listening to. The video-sharing app is brutally inescapable, though, and has probably exposed you to a handful of clips of songs you can't get out of your head just by appearing on your social feeds that aren't TikTok.

Originating from the lip-syncing app, much of the TikTok-verse is all about making content to lay over the perfect song–be it coming up with a new dance craze, lip-syncing, or soundtracking some sort of comic relief. The success of a TikTok song is a bit confounding since "old" songs do resurface on the app—going all the way back to the freakin' 19th century—but its pull on what's trending in music is undeniable, making charting hits out of even obscure releases that the kids are playing over their brief videos.

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