2020 was the year of TikTok, as the app shot to global popularity and drew scrutiny from US lawmakers.
TikTok stars hung out with the Kardashians, scored TV commercials and reality show deals, and drew criticism for their continued partying and traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app relies on its massive, constantly growing library of songs and other sounds, which creators use as part of viral dances or other trends.
Some of the app's most popular sounds come from creators themselves, others come from TV and movies, some are throwback hits, while other hit songs are made on TikTok.
From "The Box" to "he has no lips," here are 50 of the biggest TikTok songs and audios from 2020 and where they came from.
It's been a wild year for TikTok, the short-form video app that's proven to have a powerful tendency to spark trends, catapult songs onto the charts, and provide endless hours of distraction.
TikTok's userbase drives not only the app's own culture but oftentimes pop culture at large - the Billboard charts are frequently full of songs that are popping off on TikTok.
While drawing on already popular hits, users of the app also frequently surface and create sounds and songs that become hits and memes themselves. Take an auditory trip down memory lane with 50 of TikTok's most popular sounds in 2020 and where they came from.
'Heather': 22-year-old pop star Conan Gray's somber track served as the soundtrack to a viral trend
say sike rn im dreaming there’s no way this is real. ##duet with @charlidamelio
♬ original sound - mills
Conan Gray, the 22-year-old YouTube musician turned pop star had a TikTok hit on his hands with the track "Heather" from his 2020 album "Kid Krow." The song birthed a trend that had TikTok users moving their eyes left to right as they pretended to watch the subject of "Heather," the romantic interest of Gray's unrequited love, pass by. The song's most popular lyrics are "I watch your eyes as she walks by."
More than 600,0000 videos have been uploaded on one version of the song.
'He has no lips, how will he get a kiss kiss?': TikTok creator Tati's reaction video allowed for a bait-and-switch
This viral sound was created by TikTok personality @thereal_tati, who read the on-screen text of a video uploaded by another TikTok user. The sound has been used in the background of bait-and-switch videos, as it begins with the dissatisfaction of its subject having small, unkissable lips — "how will he get a kiss?" — and ends by revealing that he had been concealing his normal-sized lips the entire time — "very handsome!"
The original video that led to the viral sound has been liked more than 5 million times since it was first uploaded.
'Love Story (Disco Lines Remix)': A remix of Taylor Swift's 2008 career-defining hit had TikTok creators dancing
Pop star Taylor Swift wowed her fans and critics this year with the release of sister albums "Folklore" and "Evermore." But the 31-year-old artist went viral on TikTok for a remix of one of her biggest early-career hits, "Love Story."
"Love Story (Disco Lines Remix)" was created by a 22-year-old music producer, according to BuzzFeed, and the riff on the 2008 hit served as background music for a trend that had creators thrusting their hips to the beat.
'New York Summer': 22-year-old Louisa Melcher's song goes viral
When Louisa Melcher filmed a TikTok video playing her father her new track "New York Summer" for the first time, she acted as if she didn't know how he'd react to the song. She also likely had no idea how TikTok would react, either.
The Broadway-inspired track's unique lyrics — "we're fighting in the grocery store and I love you, but I don't know if I like you anymore" — and production served as background music for nearly 30,000 videos.
'3...2...1...go': People showed off their cursed photos to this 'Rhythm Thief' track
A remix of "Louvre Museum Invasion" from SEGA's 2012 game "Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure" that appears to have originally been posted by the YouTube channel nahaki soundtracked a "cursed photos" trend, where users shared some of the worst or scariest pictures they've ever taken.
More than 2 million videos using the sound have been uploaded to TikTok as of December.
'Say So': Doja Cat's hit and a viral dance trend dominated the early days of quarantine
Doja Cat's 2019 track "Say So," became a viral hit last year but continued to dominate TikTok well into 2020, reaching the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 following a remix featuring Nicki Minaj.
The song is known on the platform for a viral dance, which was featured by Doja Cat in the song's music video. TikTok user Haley Sharpe, who created the viral dance trend last year, was also featured in the video.
The official version of "Say So" has been featured in about half-a-million videos.
'You're my best view': Doja Cat's 'Cyber Sex' meets '90 Day Fiancé's' Big Ed
nyeh ##fyp why was the ending perfect tho
♬ Cyber Sex - Doja Cat - Tyler Warwick
Mashed-up by creator @tyler_warwick, this audio laid dialogue from "90 Day Fiancé" over Doja Cat's "Cyber Sex." TikTok creators used it in over 3 million videos, often parodying the scene from the TLC show.
'Native New Yorker': Wendy Williams' masked singer appearance as 'Lips' had everyone singing the 1977 track
This TikTok audio skyrocketed in popularity following famed daytime TV host Wendy Williams October unmasking on FOX's "The Masked Singer." Williams' iconic take on the 1977 Odyssey track "Native New Yorker" about living in New York City inspired at least 36,000 videos, according to TikTok.
'Dreams': Fleetwood Mac's 1977 hit became the perfect background music for skateboarding and cranberry juice
After Nathan Apodaca posted a video lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" while riding his longboard and drinking cranberry juice straight from the jug, the track made its way back on to the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for the first time since 1977.
Apodaca's video sparked a trend of TikTok creators using the sound to recreate his viral TikTok.
'Cannibal': The title track from Kesha's 2010 album had TikTok's biggest stars dancing
Know Your Meme reported that @ya.girl.bri.bri97 created the "Cannibal" dance that propelled the song to TikTok fame, but the original video appears to no longer exist. The song used in the viral dance trend is "Cannibal" from Kesha's 2010 album of the same name.
TikTok's biggest stars, including Charli D'Amelio, participated in the "Cannibal" dance. Even the singer herself participated in the trend.
'Tap In': Saweetie's 'wrist on glitter, waist on thinner' track was a dance hit
Choreography created by @yodamnmamma helped make "Tap In" a summer hit on TikTok, as Vulture reported. "Tap In's" popularity also led to a popular mashup with "There's a Platypus Controlling Me" from Disney Channel's "Phineas and Ferb," but we digress.
'I'd Rather Sleep': Kero Kero Bonito's 2015 track with the lyrics 'now I know what's real and what is fake' helped decipher reality
Kero Kero Bonito's 2015 track 'I'd Rather Sleep' was used in a variety of different contexts on TikTok in 2020. Some used it to show off the app's different sides (like "Hood Alt TikTok"), others used a slightly altered version to break down what objects were secretly cake, a trend that first appeared on Twitter in the summer of 2020.
'Savage Love': Jawsh 685 and Jason Derulo's collaboration became one of 2020's biggest hits
I can’t stop watching this @justmaiko
♬ Savage Love (Laxed - Siren Beat) - Jawsh 685 & Jason Derulo
This song started as New Zealand teen Jawsh 685's "Laxed - Siren Beat," which was built upon by Jason Derulo. After some controversy, Jason Derulo officially released "Savage Love (Laxed - Siren Beat)," which became TikTok's biggest hit of the year, according to the app.
'Supalonely': BENEE's sad bop backed one of the biggest dance challenges of the year
@zoifishh's dance to "Supalonely" went viral on TikTok, and the song was used in at least 9.5 million videos.
'The Box': Roddy Rich's Grammy-nominated hit went viral with the lyrics 'Pullin' out the coupe out the lot'
"The Box" enjoyed widespread popularity on TikTok in 2020, just as it did on top of the Billboard charts and the nomination list for the 2021 Grammys. More than 186,000 TikTok videos have been made on the official version of the sound.
'WAP': Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's collaboration was an instant TikTok hit
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" was a cultural phenomenon, sparked discussions about sexual health, and on TikTok, it circulated along with a dance challenge created by Brian Esperon as well as in an infinite number of mashups.
'Monkeys Spinning Monkeys:' this whimsical instrumental was the ultimate general sound
baby skateboard 👶🏻 subscribe 2 my YouTube to get notified when I post the full video
♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod
Some of TikTok's most prolific sounds don't contain any words at all, and Kevin MacLeod's "Monkeys Spinning Monkeys" was one of them, soundtracking everything from skateboard-making videos to pranks to makeup removal.
'Love, I know:' misheard lyrics helped catapult 'Opaul' to stardom
##pov you’re the bartender making small talk with me about the girl that im tryna shoot my shot with.
♬ Opaul - Freddie Dredd
Freddie Dredd's "Opaul," which samples Brazilian singer Célia's "David," made the rounds on TikTok thanks to a Charli D'Amelio dance challenge and some misheard lyrics (the English "Oh/Love I know" for the Portuguese "não vai não") that led to people using the song in short skits.
Music from Nintendo's 'Super Mario' made rankings a treasured pastime
More than 545,000 videos using the sound have been posted to TikTok, according to the platform.
'Remy the Ratatouille': 'Ratatouille' the musical took over TikTok
After TikTok user Emily Jacobson composed "Remy the Ratatouille," based on the character from Dinsey's 2007 animated film"Ratatouille" and composer Daniel Mertzlufft arranged it in a musical theater style, "Ratatouille" the TikTok musical was born.
The sound sparked such attention globally that songs from the fictitious musical will be performed at a virtual event in January.
'Please don't make me vote for Joe Biden': voting-age, left-wing teens encouraged their peers to vote for other candidates during the Democratic Party's heated primary
What do Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar have in common? They aren't President-elect Joe Biden. Back before Biden beat Trump, he beat out a crowded number of Democrats vying for the opportunity to run against the president.
According to Know Your Meme, The short "Please don't make me vote for Joe Biden" song was first created in December 2019 by TikToker @userhewidj6ya1. Creators who used the sound danced along, expressing their desire for a more progressive option to lead the party, while others wanted a younger candidate.
The sound was part of a 2020 trend involving the convergence of politics and TikTok.
'Where Is The Love?': people hopped along to the Black Eyed Peas throwback track
An instrumental segment of The Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is The Love?" racked up millions of videos on TikTok as people used it to show things they were on their way to do. As Know Your Meme reported, one of the earliest iterations of the trend was from user @shelbie.welbie, who said in the caption of the video that she was "on my way to go annoy my man."
'BARK BARK BARK': this spin on a video game theme led to some surreal content
One of the more random TikTok sounds of the year, this sound uploaded by TikTok user @howardthealien69 combines barking sounds, the iconic "bonk" meme sound, and part of the track "Sanctuary Garden" from 90s video game "Earthbound." It was used in a variety of surreal content and sparked several dance challenges.
'Savage': Rising star Megan Thee Stallion's hit was a shoo-in for TikTok virality
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion's 2020 Grammy-nominated hit track "Savage," which further skyrocketed in popularity following a remix featuring Beyoncé, has been featured in more than 28 million videos on TikTok.
The song, featuring the infectious lyrics "I'm a savage. Classy, bougie, ratchet," inspired a mega-viral dance, created by TikTok creator @keke.janajah, that TikTok's biggest stars helped make one of the app's largest 2020 trends.
'Therefore I Am': Billie Eilish's 'Stop. What the hell are you talking about?' track had TikTok creators feeling confident
Making a late-in-the-year entry is 19-year-old Billie Eilish's "Therefore I Am," which she released in November. About 20 seconds into the song, in-between beats, Eilish speaks, "Stop. What the hell are you talking about?"
The song, and mostly that portion, has been featured in more than 3.3 million TikTok videos so far.
'I'm a ghost:' Championxiii's 'BOO!' had creators disappearing
dc @kamronagee and @wh0.nia
♬ VMESHBEATS ADDERALL X BOO X IG FREESTYLE - Varoon Ramesh
"BOO!" the 2020 track by hip hop artist Championxiii was all over TikTok, including in videos that used the popular "Time Warp" filter. The original track has been used in 2.5 million videos.
A more popular remix of the song, created by Varoon Ramesh, accompanied a popular dance trend, where creators used a TikTok filter that allowed them to freeze their bodies while continuing to dance around. The remix has been used in more than 3.2 million videos.
'How you like that?': K-pop sensation Blackpink's song was used more than 11 million times
K-pop sensation Blackpink's "How You Like That" was used more than 11.2 million times on TikTok. The song is from the group's 2020 album, titled "The Album."
The song was often used for creators to show off their dramatic style transformations, starting the video sans hair and makeup and ending it in full glam. Other popular videos used the track as background music for street fashion.
'You got it!': SALES' 2014 track 'renee' found new life on TikTok this year
The 2014 song, which repeats the lyrics "you got it" several times, was used by creators to show the lengths they were willing to go for other people. Some used it to show the things they'd do for a significant other, while a teacher used it to show what she allows her students to do.
The track has been used in more than 1.5 million videos.
'Can't Stop Singing': Disney Channel's 2013 film 'Teen Beach Movie' became the perfect track for TikTok storytimes
##greenscreenvideo for legal reasons this is stage make up .... LIKE FOR PT 2
♬ I am at ur moms house - Elizabeth Chetwynd
Disney Channel first aired its musical movie "Teen Beach Movie" in 2013, and seven years later, "Can't Stop Singing" sung by the film's stars Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell, who played Brady and McKenzie, went viral on TikTok.
The song was used in the background of storytime videos, where creators used the ascending drama found in the lyrics — "Make it stop! Make it stop!" — to demonstrate how a situation had escalated over time.
According to TikTok, "Can't Stop Singing," uploaded as "I am at ur moms house," has been used in more than 320,000 videos.
'I'm bored in the house and I'm in the house bored': Curtis Roach and Tyga created a song custom made for 2020
Curtis Roach and Tyga's 2020 track "Bored in the House" blew up on TikTok, serving as background music for the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when states across the US and countries across the globe encouraged people to stay home to stem the spread of COVID-19. The song has been used more than 759,000 times.
'Just thinking about it': TikTok users spent much of 2020 stressing over bold choices
This sound, created by TikTok creator Makayla, was used as background noise in videos where people were faced with big choices: often decisions to make a big-ticket purchase or make a big change to their hair.
The audio begins with reassurances that the person isn't going to act on their impulses: "I'm not gonna do it, I'm just thinking about it."
By the end of the audio, which has been used more than 500,000 times, the person admits they succumbed to their urges and "did it."
'I'm at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell': A fast-food combo became a trend among biracial creators
i hate being stuck in kansas
♬ Combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut by Das Racist - Jinx
The song "Combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut" was used in more than 400,000 TikTok videos and is a remix of the late aughts track by the former New York-based group Das Racist.
According to a 2011 article from FoodBeast, the "lyrics are both simple in vernacular but arguably profound in their commentary on consumer identity, juvenile behavior, corporations, and rap music in general."
The sound was used to show various combinations, often used by biracial creators to show how they inherited, or in some cases lacked, features from both of their parents.
Replay by Iyaz became Gen Z's 'Rick roll'
"Rick Rolling," defined by Urban Dictionary as "a method in which a prankster makes a fake link to the music video of Rick Astley's 'Never Going to Give you Up'" got a twist for modern times with "Replay," Iyaz' 2009 throwback track.
In the TikTok videos featuring the song, the track pops up like a Rick Roll in unexpected places, as users go to extreme lengths to weave it into their content as a punchline.
'Positions' from Ariana Grande's album of the same name was just one of her popular songs on TikTok
The track, used more than 242,000 times, was from Ariana Grande's 2020 R&B infused album "Positions."
Creators focused on the lines in which Grande sings "Boy, I'm tryna meet your mama on a Sunday. And make a lot of love on a Monday" to show they could be both wholesome and PG-13.
'It's M to the B': Millie B's 2016 diss track serves as the track to the most liked TikTok of all time
This song, originally titled "Soph Aspin Send," originated in December 2016 as a diss track from British rapper Millie B against her rival Sophie Aspin, according to PopBuzz.
The sound, known by its lyrics "It's M to the B," was popularized this year by TikTok creator Bella Poarch, who used the song alongside TikTok's popular "Face Zoom" filter. Her video using the song is the most-liked TikTok video of all time, with more than 43 million likes.
'I'm an accountant': TikTok creators related to an actor's inability to describe his job
New York-based actor and musician Rocky Paterra's viral "As An Accountant" song was used thousands of times this year on TikTok, popular among creators who had a difficult time explaining what they do for a living.
"The song can function as an anthem for any line of work that you might not always want to have conversations with people about," Paterra told BuzzFeed News of the song.
"I'm a struggling actor, but if I'm asked by a stranger what I do, I usually end up telling a lie because there's too much to get through," he sings. "I'd rather smile and simply state that I have a full-time job...as an accountant."
The audio was also popular among creators who also post on OnlyFans.
'Oh no': Kreepa's 2019 track was the soundtrack of a year of unfortunate events
Hip-hop artist KREEPA 2019 track titled "Oh no" was used more than 7 million times as background music in videos that depicted some of the 2020's most unfortunate — and sometimes hilarious — moments.
'Song for Denise (Maxi Version)': The 'Putin Walk' used an 80s song to show stretched out creators marching toward the viewer
According to Know Your Meme, the 'Putin Walk' trend was named for an edited, stretched-out video of Russian President Vladamir Putin walking down a hallway. In response, TikTok creators made similar videos of digitally stretched versions of themselves marching toward the screen. The videos, including the original Putin meme, used Piano Fantasia's 1985 "Song for Denise (Maxi Version)."
One version of the sound was used more than 59,000 times.
'DORI ME': a 1996 French song was named TikTok's most 'cursed' song of the summer
The "Hatsune Miku" remix to "Ameno," the 1996 track from French group +eRa+ was used as creepy background music in more than 350,000 videos this year. WMagazine even named the track TikTok's "cursed song of the summer."
At the time, "Ameno," was a top-10 hit in France, Belgium, and Sweden and charted in Germany and Iceland, W noted.
'I am lost': The Irrepressibles 2016 track 'In This Shirt' was an anthem for lost objects
"In This Shirt," the 2016 song by the UK-based band The Irrepressibles was known by TikTok users as "I am lost" because of the repeated lyric in the final verse of the song that became the iconic sound.
Former Disney stars, sisters Aly and AJ, had a TikTok revival with 'Potential Breakup Song'
'It took too long for you to call back,' sisters Aly and AJ Michalka sing on their 2007 track, "Potential Breakup Song," which has been used more than 2 million times on TikTok.
The viral sound was most notably used in a video that showed a group of moms singing along to the Aly & AJ classic, which earned over 10 million likes and spawned numerous parodies.
On December 29, the sisters, who last released an album in 2018 after a decade-long hiatus following their Disney stardom, dropped an updated, explicit version of the track. The TikTok logo is front and center in the single's cover art.
'Renegade': The beats in K Camp's 'Lottery' created TikTok's most recognizable dance
Jalaiah (@jalaiahharmon ), creator of Renegade, performs at the NBA All-Star Game!
♬ Lottery - K CAMP
"Lottery" the 2019 track from American rapper K Camp is one of the most recognizable TikTok sounds of all time due largely to the "Renegade," the dance named for the lyric repeated in the song's intro.
While the "Renegade" was made famous by TikTok stars like Charli D'Amelio, it was created by Jalaiah Harmon, a 14-year-old girl from Atlanta, Georgia, as The New York Times reported in February.
The track has been used in more than 28 million videos.
'You have to stop': ODESZA's 'A Moment Apart' got a harp cover and several viral audios
"You need to start thinking of yourself as the main character," TikTok creator Ashley Ward says in her viral audio using music from American electronic music duo ODESZA's 2017 track "A Moment Apart."
The song first went viral on TikTok after it was played on the harp in February by popular creator @hannah_harpist. Her cover was used more than 390,000 times, often on videos that parodied Wards' viral sound as part of a trend where TikTok users aired their pet peeves. Even Dr. Phil got in on the fun, telling his fans they had to stop commenting "daddy" under his posts.
'That type of sh** don't phase a player': 5 million videos used Rod Wave's 'Rags2Riches'
American rapper Rod Wave's 2020 track 'Rags2Riches' featuring ATR Son Son was heard in the background of at least 5 million videos on TikTok, according to the app. As per the lyrics and the title of the song, it was often used to illustrate stories of people overcoming obstacles, though TikTok's biggest stars, including Noah Beck and Charli D'Amelio, danced along to it.
'I'm a pretty boy, I'm stunning': TikTokers were feelin' themselves to this Curtis Waters track
the president said to make a tiktok... ##whatidwear
♬ Stunnin' (feat. Harm Franklin) - Curtis Waters
From actress Debby Ryan to TikTok's own Dixie D'Amelio, more than 1.3 million videos used "Stunnin'" the 2020 Curtis Waters track that features Harm Fraklin. The song's braggadocious lyrics, including "I'm a pretty boy, I'm stunning," served as the theme song for creators who were feelin' themselves during a year when most people were unexpectedly stuck inside.
In 2020, TikTok creators were collectively 'Mad at Disney'
More than 3.1 million people used Salem Ilese's song 'Mad at Dinsey" in their videos this year. According to Rolling Stone, the song, written by Ilese, Bendik Møller, and Jason Hahs was created in a writing session after Hahs had watched and been disappointed by the 2019 remake of "The Lion King."
A 19-year-old's remix to 'Roses' by SANIt JHN was a massive TikTok hit
According to Vulture, the original slow-moving SAINt JHN 2018 track 'roses' was remixed by 19-year-old Kazakh producer Imanbek, leading to its TikTok virality earlier this year. TikTok's biggest names danced to the track, which has been used more than 2.9 million times.
'How bizarre!': A 90s classic found a new audience on TikTok
"How Bizarre," a 1996 track from New Zeland-based OMC's only album, found new fans on TikTok more than two decades after the track was released.
Like other TikTok hits, the catchy production and straightforward lyrics — in this case, "How bizarre!" — proved to be a winning combo, with TikTok creators using the track to show off their "bizarre" life experiences.
Sometimes, even on TikTok, things just make sense, like ZICO's 2020 track 'Any Song'
The easy vibes in "Any Song," the 2020 track by Korean artist ZICO made it the perfect backing music for viral videos on TikTok. In a trend sparked by TikTok user @her.atlas showing "random things in [her] Japanese home that just make sense," the song was featured in more than 900,000 TikTok videos this year by creators to describe things in their life — from their smart homes to their pets — that did or didn't make sense.
'OUT WEST' by Travis Scott and Young Thung was used more than 14 million times
The viral track, used in numerous videos from creators including the D'Amelios and Addison Rae, is from the 2019 album "JACKBOYS." The song blew up in February 2020, cementing itself early on as one of TikTok's biggest songs of the year.
Even Shaq got in on the fun.
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