TikTok’s Hottest Tracks of 2023
Having a hit on TikTok isn’t as straightforward as it was in the early days of the app. Now, a song can go viral countless ways: A single line, an artful mashup, a sped-up remix, or a creator-fueled dance challenge can all lead to a track taking off. But even then, it takes some work — or, in some cases, maybe just a little internet magic — to translate TikTok popularity into chart-topping status. Here are five artists who have managed to make it happen this year.
“Escapism” / Raye
British rising star Raye had a major breakthrough when a sped-up version of “Escapism” blew up on the app. The viral prechorus, about feeling isolated, has gone on to soundtrack all kinds of content: makeup transformations, Get Ready With Me clips, day-in-the-life compilations, classic dance videos. The song peaked at Number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Ceilings” / Lizzy McAlpine
McAlpine had a taste of TikTok fame during the pandemic when a snippet of a performance she did in her bathroom spread widely. Her latest viral moment revolves around “Ceilings,” a dreamy sleeper hit from her sophomore album, Five Seconds Flat. Fans popularized a sped-up version in wistful videos of themselves running from the camera like they’re starring in their own indie romance flick.
“Die for You” / the Weeknd
Though “Die for You” came out five years ago, it’s been trending for months. (In 2022, the Lana Del Rey-assisted track “Stargirl Interlude” also got a TikTok boost.) After the song became ubiquitous on the app, the Weeknd made sure to include it on the set list of his 2022 tour. He previewed a still-unreleased remix with SZA in October 2021, and earlier this year, released an official version with Ariana Grande that soared up the charts.
“Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” / PinkPantheress feat. Ice Spice
The London pop star and the buzzy New York rapper were both busy expanding their TikTok fandoms before linking up for this massive track. PinkPantheress’ chirpy chorus and Ice Spice’s breezy verse are favorites on the app: In addition to inspiring a mini dance challenge, the song is widely used for anime girl cosplay content, and is also a favorite of none other than North West.
“Mother” / Meghan Trainor
Trainor’s latest single, which samples the 1954 classic, Billboard-chart-topping “Mr. Sandman,” is a perfect case study in how to make TikTok your personal marketing tool. The singer has mastered the art of working with well-known creators — she often teams up with social media fixture Chris Olsen — and many popular TikTokers have helped make “Mother” inescapable, even kicking off a dance trend in the process.
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