Rayestarted 2023 off strong earlier this month by scoring his first UK number one single. 'Escapism', which features 070 shake and hooks about 'running away from reality as fast as you can', made a steady climb up the charts after its initial release in October; his gradual ascent was made possible by remixes of the track made on social media. Multiple fast-paced versions of 'escapism' have been making the rounds on TikTok since its release and have soundtracked over 850,000 fan-made videos, ranging from cleaning tutorials to "get ready with me" confessionals. The official "revved up" iteration of the song, released in November, also garnered over 47 million streams on Spotify, representing a combined 170 million 'escapist' streams - massive numbers for a proudly independent artist who has recognized and harnessed the creativity of their fans, then reaped the rewards of the kind of organic marketing that even the major record labels can't buy.
Raye's ode to hedonism is just the latest in a growing list of songs enjoying widespread chart and streaming success following the popularity of their subsequent fan-created remixes. Last year, Steve Lacy's 'Bad Habit' and Thundercat's 'Them Changes' received separate 'fast-track' releases after each went viral on TikTok, with the former eventually reaching the top of the UK singles chart. American billboard in October. This type of up-tempo editing has been coined "nightcore" after the Norwegian DJ duo who were first credited with introducing the subgenre in 2010, when they began creating high-octane dance music by speeding up the tempo and changing the beat. . vocal pitch of existing tracks.
But as much as online creators, social networking sites and even record labels felt the positive impact of these quick remixes, there are still questions about what the success of these "up-tempo" songs says about the current state of online listening habits and music ownership, as well as whether fan-created remixes will have a positive impact on the industry as a whole. It is also worth clarifying at this point: what is the great attraction of up-tempo melodies?
“As our world changes and evolves, so does music,” producer, actor and comedian Oliver Tree tells nme. “The music that was the soundtrack to the youth of the 1960s is not going to connect in the same way with the youth of 2023. They are living completely different lives in a completely different world, during a completely different point in history.”
Tree's nightcore song 'miss you' took the dance charts by storm last year thanks to official and fan-made versions of the song being added to social media sites. he believes that the way younger generations consume music and media explains why they love high-speed music so much. “The current state of living in a digital society, with the advent of social media and online dating, is that we all slide quickly to see what's best,” he says. “This leaves us moving at an incredibly fast pace. music is a mirror of humanity, so no one should be surprised that up-tempo music has become popular when you look at the speed at which we live.”
However, making music that reflects this fast-paced lifestyle has not been without controversy. In October, two versions of 'Miss You' reached their peak of popularity: one by an up-and-coming German producer named Southstar, the other by Tree and DJ Robin Schulz. both tracks share the same name, arrangement, running time and lyrics from tree's bleak 2020 hit 'jerk', but although southstar's version was released first, it was ultimately unauthorized (according to billboard ). Posting on Instagram following the official release of 'Miss You', Southstar alleged that "Schulz stole my song". However, Atlantic Records, which owns the rights to 'Jerk', said in a statement that Southstar was wrong because they "remixed 'Jerk' without permission, then released a version with re-recorded vocals to avoid fully compensating Oliver Tree." and its label”.
In the end, the official version of "i miss you" eclipsed the southstar version on both tiktok and streaming sites. But the dueling tracks highlighted the copyright and intellectual property issues online creators face when making remixes on TikTok and Instagram. That urge to be inspired and create, however, makes sense according to TikTok, who say tween is an integral part of the platform.
“at the heart of tiktok is the belief that anyone can take a sound, trend or cultural moment and turn it around, mix it up and collaborate with others to create something completely original and entertaining”, clive rozario, global manager of music shows on tiktok, he tells nme. “People play with ideas, take full advantage of our effects, and use sounds that someone on the other side of the world has created.” rozario adds that people don't just come to tiktok to consume, but also to create: “fans have the power to become part of the music-making process, which often manifests itself in creators experimenting with their own sped-up versions. or slowed down. .”
Rozario adds: "Remixes have become instrumental in fueling the success of artists on and off TikTok, facilitating the community's love of creatively experimenting with new sounds. By speeding up songs, fans can transform a track into a dance hit or high-tempo anthem, delivering a whole new take on songs from a wide range of genres.In turn, more artists and labels are jumping on these trends, leaning on the “catchy” moments in covers. remixes and actively promoting newer versions that are taking off."
Although creating remixes to promote and bring fans back to the original songs and albums has been a mainstay in the music industry for some time, social media has made it easy to process of creating these new versions. an activity for fans.
“We’ve seen an increasing number of speeded up and slowed down remixes take off on tiktok and then officially launch, which often helps drive engagement with the original track and increase it up the charts,” explains rozario.
Jovynn is one of the creators helping artists spread their sounds on social media. She was an online content creator long before she became a famous tiktok dj, learning how to share dance trends, posting memes, and watching the types of sounds go viral on the app. however, it was during the pandemic that she decided to buy her own turntable and take seriously the "escape" she found in remixing tracks creating the music she wanted to hear.
“When I was a creator, I had a hard time finding sounds to make a video with,” says Jovynn. "Then, when I was a DJ, I started to modify the sounds and the letters to make them what I wanted them to be." For example, his recent reimagining of SZA's 'Kill Bill' is currently endorsing the videos of thousands of jilted lovers. "In the [original] lyrics she says, 'I could kill my ex'. I added a short pause to build tension, then modified sza's voice to say, "I'll kill my ex". that just flips the song in a whole different way,” she explains. “Every time I create a mash-up or sound edit, I wonder if other people would like it or use it. there's a lot more to it than [just] cranking up the audio and speeding up the bpm.”
Combining her love of music making with her social media savvy has helped grow the Las Vegas-based creator's online following to nearly 11 million across all platforms, propelling her songs to Let them go viral multiple times: Jovynn's recent take on Coldplay's 'A Sky Full of Stars' soundtracked hundreds of thousands of TikTok reels and videos as the new year began. In her opinion, it's the social media desire for soulful music that's creating the demand for up-tempo songs. “Slowing down or speeding up the sound adds more character,” Jovynn argues. “There are songs that are upbeat that have really sad lyrics and people could really use that a cappella to slow it down, making it a sadder song. it enhances the emotions of the song in a different way.” Another reason users love fast tracks, she says, is her inability to focus on the longer version. "A lot of people on tiktok have very short attention spans," she adds.
Ashley hoffman, digital marketing specialist at secretly distribution, works with independent artists to distribute their music on social media platforms. Recently, she's seen an increase in acts becoming proactive rather than reactive when it comes to creating late-night covers of her songs. “I think more artists will start to have those sped up versions prepared alongside their original release, rather than fans releasing them first,” she says. Hoffman, who has worked directly with artists who have enjoyed the success of tiktok remixes, also has a theory as to why users are drawn to these versions over the original ones. "Those versions sound more soulful and exciting," she says. "That's what makes them perfect for social media videos on sites like tiktok, where you keep people from scrolling by grabbing their attention and making them feel something."
A quick survey of tiktok's "for you" page provides more evidence that the nightcore trend is still going strong. Currently, an unofficial sped-up version of Miguel's 2011 hit 'Sure Thing' plays behind almost every other video as influencers and creators mimic the lyrics: "if you're the money, I'll be the rubber band / you be the match, I'll be a fuse, boom!”, the song is currently attached to 900,000 tiktok clips and counting, and, more than a decade after its release initial, the original version of the song has returned to billboard's top r&b songs 20. according to rozario, the staying power of up-tempo tracks can be traced back to the "endless creativity and collaboration" of the people who make up the global community of tiktok, and that momentum won't be slowing down any time soon.
"From Raye's 'escapism' to the release of a sped-up version of Steve Lacy's 'Bad Habit,' it's clear that sped-up remixes are here to stay," he says. "We have no doubt that we'll continue to see fan remixes take off well into 2023."