The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Exploring TikTok’s impact on mainstream music

TikTok+application+logo.
Photo courtesy of App Store
TikTok application logo.

Since its rebranding from Musical.ly, TikTok has become a safe haven for Generation Z to start new trends and promote music creators to the national scene.

However, some TikTok users now believe that the app has become too mainstream, raising concerns about the authenticity of music on the platform.

The buzz stems from a large influx of musicians tailoring their songs to become famous on the app, such as rapper Ice Spice and singer Reneé Rapp.

Both stars surged in popularity in 2023, shown in Ice Spice’s win of the MTV VMA for Best New Artist and Rapp’s nomination in the same category. 

How artists like Rapp and Ice Spice have risen to millions of streams in such a short period stands as a topic of confusion, as various YouTubers have released videos analyzing Ice Spice’s role as an “industry plant,” otherwise known as a musician set for success through connections in the industry. 

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    One University student attributes that success to the type and style of sound an artist chooses to release on TikTok.

    “I think a viral-sounding beat really contributes to how popular some of these artists become on TikTok,” said Mary Meyers, freshman in Engineering.

    Trendy lyrics accompanying these catchy beats on TikTok-coded tracks push them further on the platform and have even rocketed unknown songs onto the top spots on music charts. 

    For example, Ice Spice’s collaboration with PinkPantheress on “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” in 2023 employed lyrics that earned a positive reception from Gen Z, such as the use of the word “cap.” The song went on to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 14. 

    Rapp’s vocal role in the 2024 adaptation of “Mean Girls” also proved to be successful for her musical career. The movie’s soundtrack, which exploded in popularity on TikTok, helped the actress land a spot hosting Saturday Night Live with musical guest Megan Thee Stallion.

    On Jan. 20, the pair performed “Not My Fault” from “Mean Girls” on the late-night show. The official YouTube video for the performance has over one million views, a true testament to the power of TikTok in influencing the young performer’s fame. 

    Although TikTok stars are wafting into the mainstream music scene, James Davis, a freshman in Engineering, thinks there is still an opportunity for smaller artists to shine on the platform.

    “I believe the TikTok algorithm still has the ability to promote small artists and get their music out there,” Davis said.

    While many concerns remain about TikTok’s authenticity, there is no denying that the platform has profoundly impacted the music industry by propelling artists to new heights and producing trends that rock the social scene. 

     

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