Teens can make anything cool. Their social media superiority launched songs like “Old Town Road” and “The Box” to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and, every day, pop songs like Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” become templates for teens to dance, lip-sync, or act to. But the creative geniuses on TikTok are also discovering (and popularizing) indie songs, international songs, and songs no one has thought of in years, if ever. TikTok has deep cuts — they just have nothing to do with vinyl records. Now, you can listen to the entire thing instead of 60 seconds or less. Here are some of the songs that TikTokkers have taken from the underground and turned into global memes.
“Queen of Disaster” by Lana del Rey
This leaked and unreleased Lana Del Rey song from 2013 has been the backdrop for many a TikTok, from “Get Ready With Me” vlogs to POVs. The current trend is to make yourself over into a Disney princess, but just a few weeks ago, users were playing it in the background of hot mom checks. Lana would approve.
“Homecoming” by The Teenagers
The Teenagers, a self-aware band from France, blew up in the mid-2000s, thanks to their breakout hit “Homecoming.” Now, their cult fan base includes TikTokkers, like dancer Haley Sharpe (the inventor of the “Say So” by Doja Cat dance — bow in her presence), who lip-sync to it. For fun, NME named “Homecoming” the fourth-best song of the year in 2007 … when Haley was only four or five.
“Walk4Me” by Robbie Tronco
A remixed ’90s club hit, “Walk4Me” is a perfect song for mini lip-synced sketches or for hitting the gym. Wherever you’re at in life.
“Pillow Talking” by Lil Dicky
So, “Pillow Talking” isn’t that old (2017), but it’s also not a song you really listen to every day. Unless you’re like me and have also had it stuck in your head since TikTok decided to revive it.
“Make His Pockets Hurt” by Lil Kayla
This is the sound for when you are Hustlers-level scamming. Teens use it to make fun of their parents and their significant others, but it also sounds really good next to FloMilli, Kash Doll, and Doja Cat on a playlist.
“Oops” by Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music Makers
There are so many versions of this “Oops” sound, changing up the ending to fit whatever scenario. The song has been sung by Doris Day, Louie Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, but the TikTok version is from big band leader Lawrence Welk.
“Opaul” by Freddie Dredd
This song got its start on TikTok through users who would lip-sync “No, I know” or “Love, I know” over the actual lyrics “Não vai não.” Canadian producer Freddie Dredd sampled the lyrics from Portuguese song “David (Odavi)” by Brazilian singer Célia. It became a whole separate trend to dunk on people who were saying “No, I know,” then, it became a trend to not care. Meanwhile, Charlie D’Amelio, the most popular user on TikTok, just danced to it.
“No Idea” by Don Toliver
Just last month, Houston rapper Don Toliver topped the Billboard Emerging Artists chart. This week, his 2019 song “No Idea” peaked at No. 43 after just three weeks on the Hot 100. It probably helps that there are millions of dancing, walking, and couples TikToks set to “No Idea” or a remix, some of those with millions of views alone.
“Prom Queen” is an angsty teen anthem critiquing beauty standards and one of the first indie songs to blow up because of TikTok. Alone, teens lip-sync to the song, pointing out their mom jeans. But a remixed sound uploaded by @maybemarzey cuts “I Look Good” by Texas rapper Chalie Boy (a song from 2009!) in. People of color use the remix to document how they’ve changed since no longer conforming to white standards of beauty; now, it’s about hyping yourself up instead of comparing flaws.