Music History

5 Viral TikTok Songs From Older Generations

The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" is all the rage on TikTok. Wait until Gen Z finds out about Phil Spector's past, though.
The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" is all the rage on TikTok. Wait until Gen Z finds out about Phil Spector's past, though. Michael Ochs/Getty
Streaming reigns in today’s music industry, and it’s for this reason that record labels are channeling their energy toward the one app that has somehow captured the spirit of Gen Z: TikTok.

We’re well past explaining TikTok to our predominately millennial and Gen X audience, as we’ve done many times. I mean, many, many times. We’ve profiled some the app’s many “influencers” and discussed the more serious, substantive side of the video-sharing platform.

You get the idea. TikTok is ubiquitous, and us older people (I’m only 27, but that’s still older than the average TikTok user) might as well be drinking Ensure to make our Metoprolol go down easy while we watch reruns of Matlock on a nursing home TV. While Zoomers are spending their precious, fleeting youth wearing AirPods and doing Fortnite dances, the rest of us are in a bit of a quandary when it comes to relating to the youths.

Fortunately for Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials, some of the trendiest songs on TikTok are those that should be in our wheelhouse. Take the below five, for instance.

Pixies, “Where Is My Mind?”
Some of the most viral TikTok videos to use this song are in Russian, but a bulk of the English-speaking creators seemed to have picked the Pixies’ signature single given how easy it is to vibe to. Who would have guessed that Frank Black would provide future generations a soundtrack for online makeup tutorials? Not us old fuddy-duddies, that’s for sure. 
Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams”

Some dude in Idaho named Nathan Apodaca filmed himself on TikTok riding a skateboard while chugging a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice to the sound of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” and it resonated with the app’s userbase so much that the song made a triumphant return to the charts. It also prompted Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood to make TikTok accounts, but we  would be remiss if we didn’t point out how unlikely it is that Apodaca is suffering a urinary tract infection. 
Run-DMC, “It’s Tricky”

It’s universally understood that kids these days generally don’t immerse themselves in the sounds of old-school hip-hop artists like Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J, but even after decades of evolution in hip-hop production, Run-DMC’s single “It’s Tricky” manages to achieve cross-generational appeal. Case in point, hundreds of thousands of TikTok users have selected it as the soundtrack of their dance moves, gymnastics performances and challenges. 
Ronettes, “Be My Baby”
Before the world knew he was a piece of shit, Phil Spector changed the game of music with his precedent-setting “wall of sound” approach to production, and he set one of the finest examples of it in the Ronettes’ signature hit “Be My Baby.” This gargantuan sound and Ronnie Spector’s angelic, nasally voice combine to form one potent vibe. 
Blonde Redhead, “For the Damaged Coda”
This song was in a relative state of obscurity until it was used in a 2014 episode of the Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty. Since then, it has attracted over 50 million Spotify streams and 43 million hits on YouTube. That explains the “how” for this song being so viral on TikTok, but the “why” should be pretty self-evident — it’s enchanting as hell. 
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Garrett Gravley was born and grew up in Dallas. He mostly writes about music, but veers into arts and culture, local news and politics. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has written for the Dallas Observer since October 2018.