Social Media app TikTok influences Billboard Hot 100 list

Amara Del Prato, Entertainment Editor

During March of 2019, the Billboard Hot 100 experienced a bizarre shift — a shift that had the potential to permanently change the course of the pop music genre. Week after week, breakout artist Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” began to dominate the charts. The secret of its success lies within a popular social media app — Tik Tok.

Lil Nas X originally uploaded “Old Town Road” — a country-trap song about a cowboy and his horse — to Soundcloud, a free music-streaming platform. From there, it was picked up by the Tik Tok app, where users made the audio into the “Yee Haw Challenge.” As Tik Tok users filmed themselves drinking “yee yee juice” and dancing to “Old Town Road” in cowboy hats and boots, the song began to gain national traction and eventually attained the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for 18 weeks straight.

Other songs have either become hits or made resurgences because of Tik Tok, such as “Hey Julie” by Lil Yachty or “Prom Queen” by beach bunny.

“Most of my songs on my playlists come from Tik Tok,” freshman Sarah Dowling said. “It helps me find new songs and bands.”

Tik Tok, like its predecessors Musical.ly and Vine, is an app full of brief videos, where creators take on the challenge of creating quality videos that still manage to keep the audience’s attention. Piquing a user’s interest in the shortest timespan becomes the main goal for creators — including musical artists. Even Lil Nas X admits that he used internet culture and memes to his advantage when making “Old Town Road.”

“I was like, this [lyric] is gonna be the highlight of the memes right here,” Lil Nas X said in an interview with NPR Music on April 10, 2019. “​I was just doing that the entire month of

making the song, [thinking] ‘Put this right here… oh, this is gonna be the best plan ever.’ And, you know, it worked.”

Some creators worry that this mentality could be harmful to the future of music.

“There’s this theory developing in my mind that music right now is being ruined by Tik Tok, and every single piece of music in like two years — all the hot songs — are all gonna be songs that are engineered to be 15 second little snippets and sketches,” YouTuber Cody Kolodziejzyk said.