The Biggest Old Music Hits Resurfaced by TikTok

Jack Johnson can thank an anonymous shoplifter for a sudden boost in streams for his 2009 hit “Upside Down.”

Two weeks ago, TikToker H1T1 bought a flat-screen television for a bargain on a secondhand marketplace, only to discover that it was stolen from an Arby’s and could only display the restaurant’s menu screen — a chain of events that he lamented in a video with “Upside Down” as background music. The video rapidly amassed 3.5 million likes, and the Arby’s corporate account even replied: “We’ve been looking for this! ❗️ 👀.” Soon, 50,000 other TikTokers were making reaction videos and riffing off of it with memes, giving the song millions of new listens — and reintroducing “Upside Down” as an earworm to a new generation. Its streams and sales more than doubled last week, according to analytics provider Alpha Data.

The new-old success of “Upside Down” is a strange, out-of-pocket moment for TikTok, which the music industry has increasingly leaned on to help break new hits from the likes of Lil Nas X, Doja Cat, and Saweetie. But it’s not uncommon, either: Old hits are going viral again, and TikTok’s own music team is working to amplify them.

Corey Sheridan, TikTok’s head of music partnerships and content operations, told Rolling Stone in May that he saw music catalogs as the next major untapped market that the app could feed into its hit machine. In the early weeks of Covid-19 quarantine, Simple Plan’s “I’m Just a Kid” suddenly powered its way to a platinum certification 15 years after its debut when it was used in a huge TikTok Trend. The same abrupt re-explosion happened with L’Trimm’s 1988 “Cars With the Boom,” and of course with Lizzo’s 2017 “Truth Hurts.”

“Catalog is my bread and butter,” says Danny Gillick, TikTok’s senior manager of music content and label partnerships. “There’s so much opportunity out there for all these legacy labels, even for songs that are out of cycle to have another life. There’s a whole treasure chest of these earworms that I grew up with that you can see now are having a second life.”

oh no

♬ h1t1 sound – h