Huge stars like Justin Bieber have made singles designed to go viral on TikTok. Yet the platform’s pop scene is far weirder – from internet drama turned into 40-second tunes, to singers famous for making ‘adorable faces’
The means by which music is played invariably affects music itself: jazz changed with the introduction of the LP, which allowed longer pieces to be released; the arrival of the CD gave the world the blockbuster 70-minute hip-hop album padded out with skits; a couple of years ago, a famous pop producer told me that the algorithms of Spotify now affect everything from a single’s length to the sound of its intro and choruses.
So it is with TikTok, seemingly the primary means by which tweens and teenagers discover music in 2021. There have been pop singles audibly designed to become memes on the video-sharing platform, Drake’s Toosie Slide and Justin Bieber’s Yummy among them. More intriguing is the way it has democratised music, taking it away from the machinations of record companies and placing its promotion into the hands of ordinary people, with often unpredictable results.