What makes a sound trend on TikTok?


TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, is a smartphone-based social network with 15 and 60 second videos of anything from dancing to arts and fashion.

TikTok users can choose to use their own original track (typically their voice or a remix) or a popular sound that is trending on TikTok. Using popular sounds increases the chances other videos will get on the For You Page, a collection of TikTok videos based on videos you have liked in the past that is created by the app’s algorithm. Former trending TikTok sounds include “Say So” by Doja Cat, “Lottery” by K CAMP and “Kolors” by Monte Booker.

Popular creators such as Charli D’amelio and Addison Rae typically dance to trending songs including “Tap In” by Saweetie and “Hatchback” by Cochise. The Hype House, the Clubhouse and the Sway House are physical houses with TikTok creators living inside posting daily content to TikTok.

A hit song needs to be easy to remember, catchy, evoke a feeling or have lyrics or music that are easy to dance/act out to. However, instrumentals are also popular on TikTok for background music to videos requiring a voiceover. Dance challenges must be rather easy so that everyone can participate.

Songs blow up and become viral after a viral video is made with a dance challenge or fun activity, inspiring others to do the challenge as well.

Once a hit song becomes popular on TikTok, songs created by the same artist blow up similarly to the first song. For example, there was “Candy” by Doja Cat released in 2018, following the popular dance hit tune by @talialevinger on TikTok in 2019. Soon after, @yodelinghaley on TikTok created the “Say So” dance to Doja Cat’s song “Say So.”

“Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles became popular mostly in the art section of TikTok. This song sparked inspiration for many art content creators as some decided to paint a watermelon while others decided to cook with watermelon.

Like most songs, “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion became popular after a dance. The “Savage” dance became extremely popular, with over 31.3 million posts under the song after  @keke.janajah created the dance in March 2020.

“Money Trees” by Kendrick Lamar became popular after a dance as well as a challenge, where you hold your friend’s drink and protect it while they are going to the bathroom. A dance was also created by @yodelinghaley on TikTok.

“Whole Lotta Choppas” by Sada Baby started trending after a dance created by @ohbukster on TikTok, as well a trend for body positivity made by @xobrooklynne. The sound has over 1.6 million videos.

“About Me” by CHIS trended after a challenge was made to introduce yourself to others on the social media platform. Questions such as your favorite color, your shoe size, your current mood were all included.

TikTok is also infamous for other events, such as its reported role in depressing attendance at President Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally in June, as well as bringing attention to the quarantine meals given at New York University.

TikTok has also been in the news recently, after the Trump administration tried to ban the app because of its Chinese ownership.