It’s that time again. As the end of the year approaches, we must look in the rearview mirror and assess all that has been.
With TikTok having just released its 'Year on TikTok' report, we’re digging into the data and comparing this year’s top 10 songs on the platform from the UK and US against last year to learn what was different about 2022.
Could we learn about the state of our collective psyche from popular moods and genres? Find out below.
More pop than last year
One of the most pronounced trends we see in 2022’s TikTok end-of-year playlist in both the UK and US is how much pop music is gaining ground against hip hop. Although hip hop remains the most popular genre in the top 10 this year, pop now makes up for about 20 per cent of genre tags in the short-form video platform’s top 10. That increase in pop genres is down to tracks from Lizzo, the Encanto Cast and Nicky Youre.
As we see even greater adoption of TikTok, with app downloads surpassing three billion, tastes align more strongly with Billboard chart trends. One reason could be that major labels are taking TikTok even more seriously than ever in 2022 for marketing.
Lizzo’s ‘About Damn Time’ (Atlantic/Warner) and Encanto’s ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ (Walt Disney Records) saw TikTok Creators using those tracks. ‘About Damn Time’ even got its own dance trend thanks to creator Jaeden Gomez.
Tempos are converging
The narrowing of track tempo ranges is a trend we see in both the UK and US in 2022, compared to last year. This isn’t particularly subtle. We’re even seeing certain specific tempos becoming much more popular. In the US, for example, four out of the 10 most listened-to tracks had tempos of 101-109.
These common lower tempos could be a symptom of the platform cultivating hyper-specific niches (from #frogtok to #nuntok) not just dance trends, so you might expect fewer high-tempo danceable tracks. Equally, it seems odd that as niches become more varied, the tempo range reduces.
Musically, we could see this narrowing of tempo ranges as evidence that certain artists are working to write the perfect track for TikTok. (Armani White’s ‘Billie Eilish’, for example, feels like a track tailor-made for TikTok.)
It could also be that tracks with these tempos land better with TikTok audiences because their medium BPMs aren’t demanding. And the fact that the Kate Bush and Willow track that blew up on TikTok this year are from 1985 and 2016 strongly supports the notion that listener these trends are driven by creators and users, not artists.
For labels and publishers, this is potentially valuable information. The 100-109 BPM tempo range seems like a fertile ground for finding catalogue songs that could connect with audiences on TikTok.
Everything is (more) awesome
The final point of note when we look at top tracks this year is how prominent positive musical moods such as Playful, Confident are on the rise. At the same time, there’s been an increase this year in tracks with a positive mood valence (a broad measure of whether you feel happier or sadder after listening).
In the US, the increase is noticeable, going from 30 to 50 per cent.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the increase in positive mood valence is startling. Nine out of ten tracks are positive.
TikTok has carved out a place in the public consciousness where you can go for pure escapism. And you need only look at the average number of viewing hours to see that it works. The data shows that users are watching more and more videos with positive songs as the backing track. This does make you wonder whether TikTok is increasingly becoming a place that users are coming for a boost in seratonin throughout the day.
Why would even more of the most popular tracks in the UK be positive? Well, it could be that us Brits need more positive escapism than our American cousins in the face of startling headlines and economic recession.
But what about Bad Bunny?
Indeed. How could we forget the world’s most streamed artist? Fascinatingly, his music doesn’t make it into the top 10 most listened-to tracks on TikTok in the US or UK. He does feature in TikTok’s ‘Around The World’ playlist, alongside fellow Latin star Cris Mj and the unexpected viral hit ‘Jiggle Jiggle’ by Duke & Jones & Louis Theroux. But despite his massive international streaming appeal, he hasn’t dethroned English-language acts in these two territories.
In summary, the key takeaways for your next meeting when you're discussing music that has popped on Tiktok are:
1. Tempos between 100-109 are best
2. Music has to be positive
3. Playful and confident moods are standing out
4. Hip hop is as dominant as ever, but pop is climbing
Come back next week when we’ll look at how the biggest movies of 2022 sounded.
To find out more about Musiio by SoundCloud’s music reports, tagging tools and audio reference search tools – and how this can benefit your business and catalogue, reach out on Linkedin or Twitter, shoot us a message using our contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.