While 2020 had so many artists on lockdown developing new songs to go viral, the year 2021 started out much the same, and viral songs seem to be booming. The most significant success for musicians this past year, besides finally having the ability to perform live again, was their newfound glory in creating music that went viral and racked up the views and listens.
So how did they do it? These music artists have talent, for sure, but they also have the smarts to utilize social media channels and streaming to help fans discover their abilities and help build them up to stardom. Let’s explore five of the biggest songs that went viral over this past year and just how they become successful viral sensations.
After taking a full six years off from the music scene, Adele came back with a brand new album and the emotional track “Easy On Me” in October 2021. When it dropped, it immediately went viral all over Twitter, with tons of fans dubbing it a real masterpiece. The song is heart-wrenching, relatable, and of course, features those gut-busting vocals.
So, how did she make it go viral so fast? In early October, she teased her fans in an interview with Vogue, talking about how her son inspired the theme for her album. She hinted that it was also directly correlated to her divorce from ex-husband Simon Konecki.
If there’s one thing that resonates with the public, it’s parenthood, love, and loss. The song portrays Adele as trying to heal, an incredible account that has many people understanding and weeping right along with her. To coincide with her debut, Adele also performed a “One Night Only” concert on television and was interviewed by Oprah, which helped catapult the success of her album release.
TikTok has become a popular medium for songs going viral, and this is just what happened to this single from the Biebs himself. Hailey, Justin’s wife, took to TikTok after his song “Peaches” debut and kicked off the hashtag #PeachesMakeupChallenge, which included tutorial-style videos of different makeup looks set to the song.
The video for the song blew up, receiving more than 1.4 million likes and being viewed over 1 million times just on the TikTok platform. In addition, the hashtag for #PeachesMakeupChallenge has had over 5 million views. The music production team at the music licensing agency, Marmoset, shared that TikTok is an excellent option for independent music artists to gain traction. They have also stated that using the right music in a video can result in tons of people, including massive influencers, partaking in the activity, which leads to more success. It obviously worked for Bieber – he’s transitioned from his days on YouTube to going viral on TikTok!
With their song being labeled a “sleeper hit,” the Glass Animals band succeeded with a long climb to topping the charts with their song “Heat Waves.” Even though it was released last year, it didn’t get released until January of 2021 and made its viral journey up the Top 40 Billboard Charts.
The song was developed using some complex chord sequences. It is clearly about missing someone and wishing or imagining that they are right there with you. Dave Bayley, frontman of the group, says that it was simply inspired by the death of a close friend whose birthday was in June, hence the lyrics Sometimes all I think about is you, Late night in the middle of June.
The song snowballed from being on Spotify and Apple Music, and people outside of the band’s usual fanbase began to take notice. It picked up more than 225 million streams just on Spotify alone. Nostalgia speaks to people, and this song is the epitome of finding comfort in the past – before the pandemic when things seemed better.
Super catchy tunes have also gone viral, with country singer Walker Hayes nailing it with his viral song “Fancy Like.” Because he mentions them in the song, he was able to snag a major endorsement with Applebees and thousands of new followers and fans.
TikTok led the way for a dance to go along with the chorus that he put together with his daughter, Lela, and quickly earned a million views in just one night. The song went number one on country radio, and tons of people reposted their version of the trending dance. Some that participated in the dance challenge got creative, performing in front of an actual Applebees, complete with a cameo from Shaq (?!) – The song has made history and probably has also brought more people to Applebees for their “date nights.”
If you’re not on TikTok, sometimes taking one of their viral challenges and building your song’s video from it can create a new kind of viral song. Doja Cat did just that with her song “Streets,” since the music video pays homage to the viral TikTok trend #silouettechallenge, using a signature red filter with her figure in outline.
With the song skyrocketing in popularity, it brought up some controversy with fans and viewers. Some weren’t sure it was clever of Doja Cat to “steal” from a TikTok trend, while others were calling it a stroke of pure genius. Either way, the song boomed onto the music scene and does not seem to be going anywhere.
Viral Songs In Our Future
The social media channels like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter have all played huge roles in the popularity of creating viral songs. However, in some instances, just the emotion within the song is enough to resonate with an audience.
Don’t underestimate taking alternate routes to gain visibility or potentially go viral with your music – you can release your music for streaming, or sign up with a music licensing agency, where you can allow creatives to access a music library to utilize your original works for their creative projects. Producers or musi will sometimes work with an independent artist to develop specific music for films, advertisements, or other videos.
Sometimes, though, you have to add to your music with some creative marketing to entice people. So, whether it’s a makeup tutorial, a fun dance, or just taking from what’s already circulating, there is no doubt that we will continue to see more viral songs erupt in the coming new year.