Sped Up Songs
It is a mystery as to why certain (namely, young) people want to listen to music this way. Sped-up and slowed-down versions of songs blew up on TikTok this year, so the catalyst is clear. But someone had to make the decision to crank up the speed on “Running Up That Hill” and “Head Over Heels.” Someone had to have said, “These songs aren’t fast enough, let’s get to that chorus. We don’t have all day, Kate Bush!” Someone said, “You know what Kate Bush needs? Higher BPM. Cocaine.” I would love to pick that person’s brain. I’m tempted to think this has to do with the quick pace of TikTok, and maybe shortening attention spans. This theory, however, butts up against the slowed-down song trend, for those who said, “You know what Panic! At The Disco needs? Lean.” Ghost had their first Hot 100 hit this year thanks to the sped-up version of “Mary On A Cross” going viral on TikTok. Now, artists like Marshmello and Panic! At The Disco are officially re-releasing sped-up and slowed-down versions of their old hits. The logical endpoint will be all singles released in three speeds for the rest of time. We’re even seeing emerging artists like Gayle making “chill,” “angrier,” and “nicer” versions of their songs. I guess having 15 renditions of the same tune gives you a better chance of one viral TikTok moment.
Everyone Covering “Running Up That Hill”
On the topic of Kate Bush, people can stop covering “Running Up That Hill” now. It’s cool that the song had a resurgence thanks to Stranger Things fans on TikTok. It’s nice that the single, which was released in 1985, entered the Billboard top 10 in 2022. “Running Up That Hill” is fantastic, timeless, and has been covered many times before this year. Covers are fun, especially when an artist takes creative liberty and interprets the song in a fresh way. But we must look at ourselves in the mirror and resist the bandwagon, and by we, I mean Rita Ora. These new covers are, dare I say, sullying the song’s legacy, rewriting history, and associating the song with a short-form video app and a Netflix original series.
Onstage Gender Reveals
On its face, a gender reveal party is silly. The whole concept of a “revealing” gender, putting so much emphasis on an unborn fetus’ sex by blasting pink glitter out of a cannon, is outdated. Not to mention all the stories about reveals-gone-wrong, accidentally taking grandma’s eye out with a blue firework. The parties are cringe and potentially dangerous, but they are forgivable. Subjecting concertgoers (see: complete strangers) to your pink-or-blue surprise, however, is inexcusable.
Harry Styles, Post Malone, Luke Combs, and Keith Urban were all passed envelopes and signs in the middle of their concerts this year, commanding them to announce fans’ baby news. Everyone played along, the artists and the audiences. “It’s a girl!” was consistently met with uproarious cheering and applause, because what else are you going to do in that situation? Nobody is going to boo a baby, but that doesn’t mean anyone cares about your baby or its gender, perhaps aside from some gender-is-binary keyboard warriors in the crowd. They might care.
You know who definitely doesn’t care? The person onstage who has a million other fans just as annoying as you. You are not sharing a special moment with Harry Styles. You are interrupting a concert that I paid between $60 and $160 to attend, plus between $14 and $100 on beer. The concert gender reveal, somewhat unsurprisingly, started as a trend at country shows. We’ve seen Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, and Brad Paisley speak about other peoples’ fertility to thousands of unwitting patrons in previous years. But in 2022, concert gender reveals spread like wildfire. Speaking of wildfires, a couple used a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” for their gender reveal and caused a wildfire in California last year.
@peachyp_ @Post Malone is the REALEST 💗💗 GIRL AUNTIE 🤟🏼💗💗💗 #fyp #postmalone #postmaloneconcert #genderreveal #AmazonVirtualTryOn #dadsoftiktok ♬ original sound – payton bates
Labels Forcing Their Artists To Make TikToks
TikTok becomes more pervasive with each passing year, and it’s steadily taking over the pop music machine. When a song goes viral on the platform, it can lead to anything from a spot on the Billboard charts to a record deal to a seat next to Taylor Swift at an award show. TikTok is where young people discover music. It’s where Gen Z spends most of its day, so labels want their artists there, too. But making a popular TikTok song isn’t as simple as writing a catchy chorus. What gains traction on the app can be random and unpredictable, and artists are feeling the pressure. Earlier this year, Halsey shared a video claiming that her label wouldn’t let her release a new song “unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok.” Florence Welch posted a similar sentiment: “”The label are begging me for ‘low fi tik toks’ so here you go. pls send help.” (She later grew fond of the platform.) FKA Twigs said, “it’s true all record labels ask for tiktoks and I got told off today for not making enough effort.” Betty Who lamented that record labels don’t want to sign her, favoring “people with a viral hit on TikTok only.” Depressing!