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Our obsession with Nostalgia and why we need it: TikTok music edition

Our obsession with Nostalgia and why we need it: TikTok music edition

Vintage is always trending. There are rarely trends that are 100% original. We got our flared jeans from the nineties and the nineties got it from the seventies. And now it is clearer than ever, that old classic songs meet the same fate of the ongoing repeat of fashion trends. 

If you have been scrolling through TikTok for a few months, it couldn’t have gone unnoticed that old classic songs keep trending on the platform. You might wonder: why is this happening? What makes this interesting is that most users of the platform are Gen Z’ers, and thus, for many, the songs are completely new. However, the songs don’t go viral out of nowhere, there is often a reason why. Most of these old songs go together with specific trends. 

Have you already done the Celine Dion challenge on her hit song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’’, where you cover yourself in blankets not looking your best, only to slowly take off your coverings and reveal a glamorous look as wind blows in your face? Or maybe the trend where you film yourself in a ‘old’ filter on ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna, only to change into a young eighties look and filter looking your absolute best? These are a few examples from just this year about how these old hit songs go viral along with a trend. 

Remember when I said that trends keep recycling? How ironic that the 1985 music video of Material Girl by Madonna was based on Marilyn Monroe’s performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And now it is trending again.

Nowadays, if we think about creativity, we often associate it with originality. We seem to think that something is only creative when it is completely new. But the truth is, artists get inspired by other artists. Most creative work is built upon layers of what the creators themselves deem to find inspiring and meaningful, which is often art that already exists. 

Our most celebrated artists of today are regularly inspired by older creative work and use samples of this in their own work. Did you know that “Break My Heart’’ by Dua Lipa, “Kiss Me More’’ by Doja Cat and SZA and “Good Morning’’ by Kanye West all include samples from other songs? These artists are known for using samples in multiple of their biggest hits. 

Therefore, old hit songs trending for a whole new generation is not weird at all. We get our inspiration from others and mix this with elements of the contemporary culture we experience right now. For instance, even though “Kiss Me More’’ samples Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”, the Dua Lipa song has a different genre and gives off a completely different vibe than the sample. This is also happening on TikTok, where users come up with new creative trends that use and are inspired by old classic songs. It ‘steals’ the art (in this case the song), but it’s turned into something completely new. We need old art to create new creative work. 

I am going to end this blog with a quote that summarizes all of this pretty well. Ironically, it has been ‘stolen’ by Steve Jobs who said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. And Jobs ‘stole’ it from Pablo Picasso who said, “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal”. But the original quote is believed to be written by T. S. Eliot:

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it is torn.”

Author: Rashmi Baldew

Editor: Phoebe Elliott

Visuals by: Rea Roitner         

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