The world is on fire. So much so that TikTok can sometimes feel like an alternate reality. The trends keep trending. The algorithm never stops churning out content onto our feeds. This week, we are all in Harry’s House. Harry Styles’s latest album is all my FYP can talk about. But he wasn’t the only musician going viral on the app; Halsey’s exposé of the music industry’s obsession with TikTok marketing also struck a nerve with users on the platform.
But before we get into this week’s TikTok trends, this is your reminder to call your senators.
Harry’s House (Glee Version)
On May 20, Harry Styles released his third solo album, Harry’s House, and it has since found a home on TikTok. Between thirsty fan edits and track rankings, the 13 tracks on Harry’s House are unavoidable on the app. And so are clips of the singer performing the album during his One Night Only show in New York City on its release day.
The first single off the album, “As It Was,” is going on its second month of TikTok stardom with almost 2 million videos made using the audio clip.
Some highlights of Harry’s House TikTok have been fan reactions to the energetic track “Satellite” and the random, but perfect crossover the album has had with the Glee fandom. (Yes, Gleeks still exist.) It all began with @skatie96’s astute observation that the Glee cast would body “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.” Another creator, @graciwithluv, proceeded to impeccably assign each song on the album to a member of the original New Directions. (I would pay good money to hear Sam sing “Daylight,” whereas Mr. Schue performing “Late Night Talking” would indubitably ruin the song for me).
Credit: TikTok / skatie96
Perhaps the best Harry’s House trend is a soundbite from Styles’s interview with Zane Lowe. In the interview, Styles describes the inspiration behind the song “Matilda.” He explains, “I had an experience with someone where, in getting to know them better, they revealed some stuff to me that was very much like, ‘Oh, that’s not normal, like I think you should maybe get some help or something.'” TikTokkers have taken the serious conversation out of context, isolating the, “That’s not normal, like I think you should maybe get some help or something,” and using it for classic TikTok antics. It’s become the soundtrack to descriptions of obsessive fan behavior and other concerning actions. So far, the sound has been used in over 13,000 videos.
The clip was originally posted by @heart4harry1 with the caption, “my friends after seeing me crying over every single thing Harry does.” The trend has become popular outside the Harry Styles fandom with videos like @bowanderson’sthat reads, “When your a grown adult but still need to have your whole body under the duvet in case the monsters get you.”
Industry discourse of the week
This week, Halsey took to TikTok to call out the music industry’s dependency on TikTok marketing, lambasting her label for asking her to create a viral moment for a yet-to-be-released song. In turn, Halsey’s TikTok exposing industry tactics created a viral moment… which is what we call meta marketing.
On May 22, Halsey posted the TikTok that launched a thousand conversations. In the viral TikTok. the singer writes, “basically i have a song that i love that i wanna release ASAP, but my record company won’t let me…i can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on tiktok.” The TikTok received nearly 9 million views and over 1.2 million likes. The comments section is mixed between support and comments like, “this is the viral marketing video,” which makes an excellent point that videos like Halsey’s insight sympathy and may make people more inclined to stream Halsey’s forthcoming song.
Later on in the TikTok Halsey said, “Everything is marketing. They are doing this to basically every artist these days.”
The discussion eventually migrated to Twitter, where users posted screenshots of other artists who have complained about being forced to make TikToks to promote their music, including Charli XCX, FKA Twigs, and Florence and the Machine. Charli XCX later clarified that her TikTok was just a joke, but it doesn’t negate the fact that artists are being asked to create content on TikTok to help a song take off on the app. If the song can gain traction on the platform, then, as we’ve seen time and time again, it will only help its streaming numbers and position on the Billboard charts. So are the labels necessarily wrong in wanting their artists to have a hit record? Or should artists be allowed to promote their music however they want?
Halsey followed up with a second TikTok that played a recording of a conversation between them and a label exec about promoting their song on TikTok. It reads, “I wish I was kidding lol.”
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, Halsey’s TikTok discourse definitely speaks to the impact of TikTok on the music industry.