Old Songs Find New Life on TikTok

by John Downey '23 on March 26, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Old Songs Find New Life on TikTok

How the App Celebrates Multiple Generations of Music

Olivia Riportella ’25

TikTok, one of the world’s most popular social media apps, has proven to be more than just a platform for dancing and silly skits. It has evolved into a bridge between generations, connecting them through music that holds meaning in both the past and the present. Many classic hits, along with lesser-known songs from past eras, have recently been revitalized by young people on the app. Indeed, this new generation of TikTokers is taking these songs to new heights of popularity.

One such song that has found new life on TikTok is “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes).” The 1970 tune from one-hit-wonder Edison Lighthouse was an unlikely pick to resurface 52 years later, but has exploded across the app. To embody the “Rosemary aesthetic,” TikTok users have used the song to post clips of themselves over its opening lyrics, “She ain’t got no money/Her clothes are kinda funny/Her hair is kinda wild and free/Oh but love grows where my Rosemary goes…” As a result of this trend, the old-school pop song saw an astounding growth of 1,490 percent in streams in the 10-day period between Dec. 25, 2021 and Jan. 3. “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” even broke into Spotify’s U.S. top 200 Chart, sitting just outside of the top 100. 

Another classic 70s track that has found new life thanks to TikTok is the iconic hit “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. When TikTok user “Dogg Face,” whose real name is Nathan Apocada, stole everyone’s hearts with a clip of him skateboarding while holding a bottle of cranberry juice and singing along to “Dreams,” the tune was brought back to life. A whole new generation became enamored with the sweet melody of Stevie Nicks’ soothing serenade. After Apocada’s clip went viral, the song returned to number two on the Rolling Stone 100 chart, reentering commercial charts for the first time in over 40 years. Apocada even received a shoutout from Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood themselves after the reemergence of their hit song prompted the superstars to create their own TikTok accounts. 

A more recent “throwback” that has caught the attention of TikTok users is sister band Aly & AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song.” This 2007 single from the duo, whose full names are Alyson and Amanda Michalka, made an exciting return to popularity due to its angsty teen breakup lyrics that resonated with Gen Z-ers. Clips of young people lip-syncing to the song went viral across the app, bringing about an epic comeback for the Michalka sisters. There was such a resurgence in “Potential Breakup Song” across TikTok that the artists were prompted to re-record the single a decade later—this time, featuring explicit lyrics. One year after their return to the spotlight, the duo dropped their first album in 14 years. 

TikTok has proven to have the uncanny ability to launch songs new and old into the stratosphere. The app’s unique power, combined with Gen Z’s fascination with bygone eras and the proliferation of streaming services in the music industry, makes it possible for even just a song clip to go viral and bring the entire tune to unprecedented popularity.