Social Media Hosts an Old Music Renaissance

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Janelle White

This is an illustration of someone using an Mp3 player to listen to music. The songs listed are “Purple Rain” by Prince, “Baby Love” by The Supremes, and “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. Mp3 players are still in use, despite digital streaming having taken over how we listen to music. TikTok has added Prince’s full music catalog wishing to inspire this generation to gain something from his music.

Dreams” by Stevie Nicks, “Misty” by Johnny Mathis, “Can’t Keep My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli, and a multitude of other older songs have all resurfaced and found new meaning on social media. YouTube playlist compilations featuring older songs remixed with a lo-fi beats are raking in millions of views. TikTok videos of users featuring older songs are becoming viral. Older songs, despite them being from a different generation, are becoming popular amongst Generation Z. The digital natives have put older music into the forefront on social media platforms, such as TikTok and YouTube, and added a new twist to these classic favorites. 

Junior Victoria Soliman loves music from the 80s and 90s. “My mom would play it [80s and 90s music] and it reminds me of good times I had with my family. Some of my favorite songs include ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Culture Club, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham, the majority of Michael Jackson’s songs, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper, etc.”

Junior Angel Montes absolutely loves older music as well. “I do like music from all of those times [90s, 80s, 70s, 60s] though I tend to stick towards the 60s-80s. I like the genres, because they’re mostly about love or just fast paced that really gets my energy up and gets me motivated. My favorite oldies songs are ‘Psychedelic Shack’ by The Temptations, anything by Queen, and anything by The Violent Femmes.”

Junior Chloe Overton states, “I love old music. My favorite genre of music is actually swing and jazz from the 20s and 30s. All of my favorite artists are old swing players.”

Overton further talks about the resurgence she has seen and more of the music she likes. “I have noticed the higher frequency in older music. Remixed ones are the ones I see the most. Some of my favorite ones normally consist of funk or newer versions of funk. I also like revisioned swing and all types of older music.”

In 2020, Nathan Apodaca created a TikTok of himself skateboarding, drinking cranberry juice, and lip syncing to “Dreams” by Stevie Nicks. His TikTok garnered over 27 million views. Due to the TikTok becoming viral, “Dreams” had its largest streaming week ever, with 8.47 million streams from the United States. Co-founder of Fleetwood Mac Mick Fleetwood and Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney have created their own videos lip syncing to “Dreams” inspired by Apodaca’s TikTok. 

More recently in January 2021, sea shanties, which are songs about sailors working in whaling boats from the 19th century, have become popular among users. Scottish musician Nathan Evan and others are creating TikTok about sea shanties, using the duet feature to sing the song with other users. “Wellerman” was the sea shanty that has gained the most traction on the app and has been remixed by artists. 

On older songs gaining popularity on social media, Soliman comments, “I have noticed that a lot of songs are coming back and gaining more prominence due to apps, such as Instagram but mainly TikTok, because artists on the app slow [the songs] down and remix them with other songs to make them more ‘relatable’ to a younger audience.”

Although Overton is not very fond of TikTok, she appreciates the resurgence of older music on different platforms. Overtone states, “I’ve heard some in advertisements, but I also hear them on YouTube, Instagram, and every social media platform I’ve been on.”

“I’ve heard a lot of old rap, rock, funk, jazz, and even pop being played,” Overtone said.

Montes states, “Songs from the Grease soundtrack have been making their rounds [and] Miley Cyrus’s cover of ‘Heart of Glass’ gained popularity on TikTok really fast. These songs are making comebacks because they’re just so catchy you can’t help but add these songs to your playlist after listening to them once on a 15 second video.”

Songs from the Grease soundtrack have been making their rounds [and] Miley Cyrus’s cover of ‘Heart of Glass’ gained popularity on TikTok really fast. These songs are making comebacks because they’re just so catchy you can’t help but add these songs to your playlist after listening to them once on a 15 second video.”

— Angel Montes

Montes continued, “I am so glad these songs are getting popular again, it just allows for my generation to gain an appreciation for oldies and different genres of songs they wouldn’t have discovered.”

Concerning how the trend can broaden others’ music tastes, Soliman states, “I honestly like how older songs are becoming more prominent, so that people who didn’t have a chance to listen to those songs from different genres can find their music taste and what makes them happy. Some of my favorites include ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Eurythmics, ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ by Tears For Fears, and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ by The Human League.”

Regarding how social media platforms promote older songs, Overton states, “One thing I really like about modern media is the spotlight older music gets nowadays. I’ve noticed too many old genres to even count that get featured everywhere, it’s crazy. YouTube and SoundCloud are probably the easiest to find them on.”

Overton believes that people really like to be nostalgic about older songs, and that might be a reason as to why older songs are becoming prominent on social media. She continues, “It really feels like all of the styles and genres sort of collided and it’s so refreshing.”

Soliman details her opinion on social media bringing attention to older music, “I think it’s a good thing that social media is exposing older music to our generation, so that we can still have some sort of musical culture from the past, even if it’s not from our time. I’m glad that the older songs are gaining a new audience, because I feel like the majority of our songs today aren’t as playful and exciting as they were back then. Keep in mind, I do like our music, but it’s good to have that nostalgic feeling when you listen to that kind of music. I think Gen Z is gaining knowledge on older music and different styles of not only music, but hairstyles and clothing as well.”

I’m glad that the older songs are gaining a new audience, because I feel like the majority of our songs today aren’t as playful and exciting as they were back then. Keep in mind, I do like our music, but it’s good to have that nostalgic feeling when you listen to that kind of music.”

— Victoria Soliman

Overton is happy that social media is exposing this music so it’ll never be forgotten. “I think every genre deserves an audience to be presented to, because there are so many types of people that are connected with so many versions of music. I feel like Generation Z is gaining a lot of culture and styles to mesh in with each other, and it sort of makes us a rainbow of different styles.”

Other older songs that have gained traction through TikTok are “Sandman” by The Chordettes, “Break my Stride” by Matthew Wilder, “Melody” by Plustwo, “YMCA” by the Village People, “Tonight You Belong to Me” by Patience and Prudence, “Cars That Go Boom” by L’Trimm, “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte, and so on. 

However, not all of the songs listed have had the resurgence in streams or in sales. Both “Cars That Go Boom” and “Jump in the Line,” although being widely used in TikTok, did not perform well in sales. 

TikTok’s head of music and partnerships Cory Sheridan and TikTok’s senior manager of music content and label partnerships Danny Gillick said that they are looking into music catalogs as the next big resource that the company can tap into. Gillick said that there is a lot of potential for this, due to older songs getting a new life on the platform. 

On YouTube, there have been various compilations of older songs, mostly from the 50s through the 70s, remixed with a lo-fi remix. The compilation with the highest number of views on YouTube has 19 million views. 

Lo-fi is a style of music that is used as background music for when the listener is studying or doing homework. Lo-fi does not include any vocals, but it has hip hop beats mixed with jazz and blues elements. Lo-fi music can be found on YouTube and Spotify, where it has a playlist with over 1 million followers. 

Regarding the old music lo-fi compilations, Soliman states, “I have seen some videos on YouTube containing 50s and 60s lo-fi songs, but that is not something I listen to as music.”

Montes has also listened to some compilations and finds songs like “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka soothing.

On older music making a comeback, Soliman says, “I think older music is making a comeback, especially during this pandemic, because more people are opening themselves up to different genres and are sharing what they have found, given the amount of time we have.”

Despite these songs being from decades ago, they still find a fan base with teenagers and adults alike.