Artists are leaving Spotify in the wake of the Joe Rogan dilemma, Julia Riew is a 22-year-old delighting everyone on TikTok with her musical about a Korean Princess, women on TikTok are standing up to “alpha male” podcaster types, Singaporean TikTokers are applying to be people’s Lunar New Year dates—plus more internet buzz on this week’s Viral List!
#DeleteSpotify Is Trending In The Wake of the Spotify x Joe Rogan Controversy
It’s been a week for Spotify. But before we give you the lowdown on why it affects young consumers and brands, let’s rewind to last December. More than 200 doctors, physicians, and science educators wrote an open letter to Spotify documenting multiple conspiracy theories aired on The Joe Rogan Experience (also the No. 1 most-listened to podcast on Spotify last year) in an episode featuring Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist who’s well-known among anti-vaccine Americans. Malone has been kicked off of Twitter for spreading misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines, and long story short, he promoted more misinformation related to COVID-19 and the vaccine on the December 31 episode. The open letter requested that Spotify “develop a comprehensive policy prohibiting misinformation,” and while the company has claimed it “prohibits content on the platform which promotes dangerous false, deceptive, or misleading content about COVID-19 that may cause offline harm and / pose a direct threat to public health,” not much has been done to hold Joe Rogan and his podcast accountable. Which brings us to last week, when Neil Young asked Spotify to either remove Joe Rogan from the streaming platform or remove his (Young’s) entire catalog. After it was clear to Young that Spotify wouldn’t be removing The Joe Rogan Experience, Young moved forward with his decision and left Spotify. Since then, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, Graham Nash, and India Arie have also announced they are leaving the platform in protest, while authors and podcasters including Roxane Gay, Brené Brown, and Mary Trump have left or stated they will no longer be releasing new content. #DeleteSpotify, #CancelSpotify, and #ByeSpotify have been trending on Twitter and TikTok since Young’s announcement, and users are talking about how they’re exporting their playlists and moving on to other music streaming platforms. So, why does this matter to young consumers? Because Gen Z and Millennials want brands to support the causes they care about, and one of the top causes on that list is the COVID-19 pandemic. YPulse’s causes, charity, and activism research shows that the top reason these gens care about a social issue is because ignoring the issue is dangerous to the world, and in the case of Spotify and The Joe Rogan Experience, failure to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform is harmful to listeners everywhere when the world is actively trying to end the threat of this two-years-long pandemic. Plus, this isn’t the first time Joe Rogan has been called out for contributing to the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. In April 2021, he was called out for an episode where he claimed young people don’t need to get the vaccine. Sixty-two percent of young consumers say brands should be encouraging people to get the vaccine, and our corporate social responsibility research shows Gen Z and Millennials will stop purchasing from brands that don’t support the social causes they care about.
A TikToker’s Disney-Style Musical About a Korean Princess Is Racking Up Views
Julia Riew is a 22-year-old Korean American who’s been writing and composing music for years. Now, she is embarking on a musical journey to share the first Korean princess fairy tale—on TikTok, that is. Riew joined the platform at the beginning of January, sharing the lyrics to the song “Dive.” In her debut video (which counts over 900K videos), Riew uses a filter transforming her into a Disney character as she sings, “Now all of the fish in the sea can’t stop me, all of the waves in the world can’t rock me. I’m on a mission and gee, just watch me go!” The one-act musical titled Schimcheong: A Folktale is an adaptation of the Korean folktale, The Blind Man’s Daughter. Riew’s musical follows a brave young woman named Schimcheong who gets swept away in the ocean as she tries to save her father. Along the way, she enters the magical Dragon Kingdom where she gets trapped, plots an escape, and works to earn the title of princess while making it back home and defeating a villainous Dragon Queen. TikTokers were immediately obsessed with Riew’s “Dive” performance, begging her to share more about the Korean princess tale in future videos while asking if they can design characters based off the story. Since her original clip, Riew has given fans a peek at other tracks in the musical’s 15-song library and their Korean influences. Riew has also challenged TikTokers to karaoke her songs, and fans have delivered—multiple clips have been made dueting Riew’s songs, including “Dive” and “Looking for Something.” According to Riew, the musical started as her senior thesis project—oh yeah, she’s also a student at Harvard by the way—and explains, “I think stories are so important for kids. Especially as someone who, as a young person, never saw herself represented in media, or in film, TV or on stage—that was something I always longed for.” TikTok has served as a helpful tool for performers during COVID-19, and Riew isn’t the only one who has created their own musical on TikTok. YPulse told you about Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear who created The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical last February (the two were recently nominated for a Grammy), while a Ratatouille musical blew up at the end of 2020. Homegrown musicals are a massive hit on TikTok, so it’s only a matter of time before Disney picks up Riew’s story—or she gets nominated for a Grammy.
Young women Are Parodying The “Alpha Male Podcaster” Type
What started as a humorous trend where women use TikTok’s “Bearded Cutie” filter to see what they would look like as the male version of themself has turned into an even more comedic event of women parodying toxic male podcasters. Elsa Lakew (@sadimmigrantkid) unintentionally kicked off the saga after posting a clip using the “Bearded Cutie” filter sharing, “Someone said if you don’t like the male version of yourself you should humble yourself…if I looked like this I would start a podcast.” Fellow TikTokers were inspired by Lakew’s clip and started stitching it to their own videos riffing on the absurd statements common in “alpha male” podcasts (think men with a Scott Disick-esque personality spouting off pretty much any type of misogynistic claim you can think of). Sara Buckley (@nottheworstmom) responded to Lakew’s video, stitching it to her own parody where she’s seen wearing a white hoodie over a Bass Pro Shop hat speaking into a podcast mic explaining, “How hard is it to understand that as a high value man like myself, I want a woman with a low value weight” (the video has garnered more than 3M views and it was so popular that Buckley has since created a series dedicated to the “single man podcast). Content creator and comedian Hayley Hirsch (@haleyhirsch) is also going viral for her “alpha male podcaster clips,” and more than 500 videos have been made responding to her original clip. Not only has the “alpha male” parody united women on TikTok over something they know all too well, Hirsch explains, “This ‘alpha male’ type is so easy to parody because they get away with saying so many ridiculous and harmful things. We want to show how utterly ridiculous they sound.” Meanwhile, #HighValueMan (122.5M views) and #AlphaMale (628M views)—which were once mostly composed of actual male podcasters just chatting about nonsense—are now flooded with parody videos from women. The trend has also infiltrated Instagram: Comedian Erika Priscilla (known for her clips parodying influencers) recently posted an Instagram Reels saying, “This is what every dude with a podcast sounds like,” as she sits hunched over her kitchen island wearing a white hoodie over a hat saying basically nothing into a podcast mic. As ridiculous as the trend may come across, this parody sheds a light on how TikTokers are once again organizing on the app to show, with humor, that “alpha male” values are in fact not “empowering.”
Singaporean TikTokers Are Auctioning Themselves Off As Dates For Lunar New Year Celebrations
In honor of Lunar New Year on Tuesday, February 1, TikTokers have been celebrating the holiday in a number of ways, including on TikTok: #LunarNewYear counts more than 1B views and is filled with clips from young people sharing how they’re kicking off the Year of the Tiger. To help fellow TikTokers avoid relationship status questions at celebrations, some users are (jokingly) advertising what they’re charging to be someone’s fake date. For example, Singaporean TikToker Wayne Chia (_wwayneee_) posted a clip (200K views) modeling a burgundy suit with overlaid text reading, “Hi I’m available for rent for cny for just $50/day” while listing everything that makes him qualified, like the ability to “pose as your bf (so they stop asking why u still single)” and “take nice ootds for you.” Another Singaporean TikToker, @f0xypony, posted a similar video (300K views) auctioning herself for $288 to go to someone’s house and act as their girlfriend—and an extra $188 can be added for extra activities like cooking food or take pictures as a couple. Wayne tells Insider he has received “dozens of takers,” but he doesn’t plan to go on any dates. He just hoped his content gave viewers something to laugh about because many can relate to pandering relationship status questions from nosy relatives. With Valentine’s Day also right around the corner, people advertising their dating chops has clearly hit a chord with young singles because there’s still a great deal of pressure placed on them to be dating someone. YPulse’s Valentine’s Day research shows over half of young people feel pressure to be in a relationship for VDay, and TikTokers posting about their boyfriend / girlfriend applications has been an ongoing trend as they use humor to relate to other singles on the app.
Links We’re Passing
Shaun White is giving social media a look at what it’s like to be at the Winter Olympics, featuring the food and how his bed compares to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics’ cardboard beds (as you can see, his bed is way more boujee).
This Millennial college student who lives with Gen Zers is going viral for clips explaining how they use emojis.
TikTokers are obsessed with “murder robes.”
Victoria’s Secret is working with Emira D’Spain (known as XOXOEMIRA), marking their first partnership with a Black transgender model.
Kendall Jenner’s recent Instagram post featuring her 818 Tequila brand is being called out for promoting irresponsible drinking.
A report by Chainalysis found that some people are selling themselves NFTs to artificially drive up their prices.
Meanwhile, some video game companies are backing out of their plans to incorporate NFTs into games following player backlash.
Mandy Moore says she wants A Walk To Remember reboot happen, and sees Olivia Rodrigo as a top pick for playing her character.
Instagram and TikTok are pulling ads from mental health startup Cerebral for promoting negative body image and misleading health claims.
TikToker Kimberly Thomas is helping the internet understand Britney Spears’ social media posts as her “southern translator.”
The original creator behind Zola called out entertainment company A24 on Twitter for not including her in the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations (Zola is up for seven awards, which is a record for A24).
Celebrities can’t stop participating in the “That’s Not My Name” TikTok challenge.
Euphoria is getting a third season.