DFW Music News

5 Viral Throwback Songs (And What the Kids Should Get Into Next)

Nirvana is all the rage on Tiktok; we can't wait until kids discover The Melvins.
Nirvana is all the rage on Tiktok; we can't wait until kids discover The Melvins. Michael Ochs/Getty
For better or worse, TikTok has become the musical tastemaker of our time. Unlike past launchpads to popularity, however, success on TikTok is nearly impossible to predict. For every song some major label is trying to astroturf into virality, countless others are becoming hits entirely by accident based on vibes alone.

Some of these TikTok success stories are charting decades after they were first released, much to the dismay of the “name five of their songs” crowd. If these kids were real fans, they claim, they would’ve gotten into these songs the same way we did: by being alive during the Cold War.

But let us stay away from the dirty business of gatekeeping good music. In that spirit, here are some artists we hope Gen Z discovers next based on what they’re into now.

“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush

What’s Next: “Gloria: In Excelsis Deo” by Patti Smith
Kate Bush's 1985 art-pop single was an instant classic upon release, but it became an anthem for a whole new generation after it was used in the latest season of Stranger Things. Though these two songs are sonically very different, we think Smith’s electrifying opener to 1975’s Horses would resonate with the artsy teens of TikTok in a similar way. The line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” has major potential as a viral sound for lip-syncing.

“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
What’s Next: “Son of a Gun” by The Vaselines

Edison Lighthouse’s one-hit wonder from 1970 blew up on TikTok when vintage fashion bloggers started using it to show off their outfits and say they were born in the wrong generation. Though the Vaselines were active in the '80s, their music would speak to those who romanticize the eclectic and twee film soundtracks of the 2000s. If only they had been teenagers then instead of now — they’d sigh while showing off their vintage American Apparel — they could’ve shared a cigarette with a Michael Cera look-alike while wishing they were teenagers in the '80s.

“Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps
What’s Next: “Sex Beat” by The Gun Club

Another hit sprung from Netflix, “Goo Goo Muck” is the impetus of the goth dance craze sweeping TikTok. While other songs from the old-school goth scene are sure to get a boost, we can also see TikTok users getting into adjacent post-punk genres as well. Like “Goo Goo Muck,” “Sex Beat” is bluesy, moody and great for flailing around. In the spirit of punk rock and making old men mad, we recommend choreographing a little dance and making it chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
What’s Next: “Fuck and Run” by Liz Phair

“Dreams” is the original throwback TikTok hit, and when you look at the tone of female-fronted rock right now, it’s easy to see why: sad girls are all the rage. Newer artists like Phoebe Bridgers and established acts like Fiona Apple and Lana Del Rey are the personal soundtrack for young women who are exasperated with relationships, situationships and everything in between. It’s insane that they haven’t latched onto Liz Phair yet, but better late than never. While all of Phair's Exile in Guyville has the potential to save lives, “Fuck and Run’s” deadpan exhaustion with hookup culture and romanticization of “that boring old shit like letters and sodas” feels like a no-brainer for this spot.

“Something in the Way” by Nirvana
What’s Next: “Lizzy” by The Melvins

“Something in the Way’s” success was a joke more than anything else, but a hit is a hit. Nirvana's song was parodied as "Something's in My Ass," and that led to the discovery of the original. And of all the pioneers of the alternative and grunge scene, the notably good-humored Melvins seem game to be in on a joke. So here’s a free idea for Hollywood: put Lizzy in a comically moody scene just like The Batman did with Nirvana and watch TikTok go wild with it. There is no better free promo than being a viral meme. You’re welcome.
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