This is the kind of music that’s becoming successful thanks to TikTok.

[It wasn’t that long ago that TikTok was where you went to see people dancing weird. Now, though, it’s becoming a breeding ground for new music that’s translating into serious mainstream success for some artists. This article from Vulture (via Pamela) looks into the kind of music that’s coming out of the TikTok phenomenon. -AC]

The No. 1 song in the U.S. right now — Disney Channel star Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License,” an archetypal 21st–century sad piano ballad — has achieved an unusual feat: It’s a debut single that reached the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart after its first week out, where it has remained uncontested for four weeks. The last time this occurred with any regularity was in the early aughts, when the first post-show singles by American Idol winners Fantasia Barrino, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Hicks arrived to nationwide attention after weeks of exposure to the prime-time audiences of one of the most-watched shows on television. It takes a big media apparatus to propel a new artist to the forefront of the American streaming charts. What gave Rodrigo the juice? Are people simply that enthralled with her work as Nini from Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series?

Powering “Drivers License,” a morose but also off-puttingly placid song about a breakup, is, in part, juicy gossip. Some fans think the song is a shot at the 17-year-old actress-singer’s co-star Joshua Bassett, who never publicly claimed to have dated Rodrigo but has recently been seen with actress-singer Sabrina Carpenter, whose new song “Skin” is rumored to be a reply to Rodrigo. More crucial to its success has been its embrace on TikTok, where pop culture and current events get memed into absurdity. In early January, an enterprising TikTok user posted a video miming the moment in Rodrigo’s original video where she dramatically falls in an open field. As the song’s chorus gives way to a soaring bridge, the person magically appears in eveningwear for kicks in the same way Rodrigo’s video wardrobe changes. In under a month, the clip has garnered a million likes and hundreds of copycats and parodies.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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