TikTokers are getting into sea shanties, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut song is breaking streaming records as millions tune in, other TikTok users are showing off their best twerking skills in the #BussItChallenge, and this gamer just broke records on Twitch for most concurrent views during an individual live stream—plus more stories and youth news to wrap up your week…
Young consumers getting into older music and songs has been a recent trend in the last year, and they’re traveling back even further—all the way to the 19th century. It all started at the end of December when Scotland-based TikTok user Nathan Evans (whose @nathanevanss account has 399.2K followers) posted a video of himself singing a rendition of the New Zealand 19th century sea shanty “The Wellerman,” which amassed 4.4 million views. The video soon inspired “ShantyTok” as users came abroad (the ship) to “duet” with Evans’s original song. As most duets start, the additions “were small at first, like adding a little extra bass” before growing into a full-on choir. Other users also remixed the song, making “Electro Shanty” a thing. The hashtag #ShantyTok now has 5.2 million views on the app, #SeaShantyTok has 1.1 million views, and #seashanty has 86.3 million views. It’s becoming so popular that the British Library is rushing the publication of their forthcoming book about sailors’ work songs due to “overwhelming interest” that TikTok has caused. To get a better understanding: Sea shanties were the tunes sailors used to sing while out at sea to stay on tempo as they worked on the ship. According to Polygon, because the lyrics and melody aren’t too tricky, it makes the genre “a perfect fit for the collaborative users of TikTok.” TikTok actually wasn’t the first time “The Wellerman” was popularized in the 21st century—British folk band The Longest Johns (known for their sea shanty renditions) covered it in 2018 for their Between Wind and Water album. Since his viral video, Evans has posted himself singing other sea shanties like “The Scotsman” (2.8 million views), “Drunken Sailor,” (2.2 million views) which is also famous thanks to the accordion version in Gen Z and Millennial-favorite show SpongeBob SquarePants, and many others. If there’s anything “ShantyTok” proves, it’s that young users will continue to reinvent old content while also finding ways to collaborate with others.
Last Friday, actress and singer Olivia Rodrigo, who stars in Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical, released her first single “driver’s license” along with a “moody” music video. The song seemed to find success overnight: The music video has 30 million views on YouTube so far, and the song has found viral fame on TikTok as well. Many TikTokers are using it as part of a POV video challenge where they create a video from various perspectives of the song like Rodrigo herself, the ex, the best friend, and even (quite literally) the driver’s license. The day the song dropped, Rodrigo shared a video on TikTok (which received 25.7 million views) highlighting the journey from how the song started as a small tidbit on Instagram to how a producer discovered it, and wanted to turn it into a full blown single. Just two days after it dropped, the song jumped all the way to the third spot of the iTunes chart—just below Gen Z-favorite singer-songwriter Taylor Swift’s bonus tracks from evermore. Rodrigo, a huge fan of Swift, shared a post on Instagram (which has received more than one million likes) with the screenshot of her songs below Swift’s with the caption: “next to taylor on the us i tunes chart i’m in a puddle of tears.” Swift responded with the comment: “i say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.” (This isn’t the first time Swift praised a budding artist on social media; she similarly endorsed Conan Gray’s album last year.) However, the song soon quickly surpassed Swift—and a few days later became the number one song across iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify, where it broke records as the most streamed song globally in one day. The song has been grabbing attention for other reasons as well—it’s causing drama in the HSM world. Fans are speculating that Rodrigo wrote the song about co-star (and ex) Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter. Nevertheless, Rodrigo’s quick and newfound success suggests that she’s is a young artist to watch in 2021 and beyond.
Rodrigo isn’t the only singer whose song is going viral on social media this week. Up-and-coming Texas rapper Erica Banks’s single “Buss It” birthed the first major TikTok dance challenge of the year. For the challenge, users start off wearing regular clothes (like a robe or t-shirt and sweatpants) then when the verse begins “magically” switching into a more spiffed out outfit with full-on makeup while they drop and twerk. Users initially film themselves dancing along to Nelly’s hit song “Hot in Herre” (whose famous “Checking your reflect and tellin’ your best friend, ‘Girl I think my butt getting big’” line is sampled throughout the rap) before Banks’s verse drops. While the song came out last summer, the challenge has helped it climb to the top of the Apple iTunes charts in the first few weeks of 2021. TikToker Erika Davila (who has 302.5K followers) was the first one to popularize the dance challenge where she initially posted herself dancing to “Buss It” without a transition (16 million views) before following up with another video that includes the transition (6.4 million views). On TikTok, the hashtag #BussItChallenge has 736.8 million views, and celebrities and influencers like Gabrielle Union, Shay Mitchell, and Bella Poarch have all participated in it. While the challenge has blown up on TikTok, it has also migrated to other platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Other users are even using the challenge to poke fun at last week’s events of the “failed coup attempt” at the Capitol. In one video, user @yopjay starts off dancing while wearing a backpack before cutting to a viral clip of one of the rioters who fell after scaling the Capitol’s walls as her “drop” at the verse. Last year, the Renegade dance, the #TootsieSlide challenge, and the “WAP” challenge were among the most popular dance challenges, and 2021 is clearly poised to inspire even more—especially as young people continue to spend most of their time at home.
On Monday, Spanish streamer and EU Heretics team owner David “TheGrefg” Martínez (who has 6.4 million followers on Twitch) “smashed” the concurrent record with 2 million live viewers tuning in to watch him reveal his Icon Series skin for Fortnite. Icon Series skins are usually only reserved for the game’s “top creators” like Kathleen “Loserfruit” Belsten and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Prior to Martínez (whose excitement was “palpable” as he discovered that his livestream broke records), Ninja previously held the highest record of concurrents on an individual stream at 635K—back in March 2018. This actually isn’t the first time Martínez has broken Blevins’ record: He hit 660K live viewers during a big Fortnite event last month. According to TwitchTracker, Martínez “far exceeded” the 1.1 million viewer record held by esports league ELEAGUETV—which is also a new record for Twitch overall. Former streamer and world renowned gamer Herschel “Guy” Beam IV a.k.a Dr Disrespect (who’s often referred to as the “Face of Twitch”—and most recently the face of Mtn Dew’s Game Fuel drinks) even congratulated TheGrefg in Spanish for the achievement. YPulse’s Gaming report found that 46% of 13-39-year-olds watch other people play video games, and if last year’s surge in video game popularity is any indication—it’ll continue to be popular in 2021. According to SuperData, while they think the numbers won’t spike as much in the new year, they predict that “the long-term habits formed during lockdown are here to stay.”
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