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On TikTok, Pop Music Speeds Up

TikTok moves fast: the content stream is relentless and easy to scroll through, and music is often sped-up to accompany it. Listening to pop hits there can be disorienting — the music is familiar, but the pace can be unsettling. Seemingly endless remixes from the nightcore and plugg music scene help shape the sonic experience of the app.

This movement is also creating a new class of hit. A sped-up version of Miguel’s “Sure Thing” became a staple on the app a couple of months ago, propelling the 12-year-old song to the Top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to the top of the Billboard pop airplay chart. The Arizonatears Pluggnb Remix of Lil Uzi Vert’s “Watch This” hit the Hot 100 in February. Almost every artist of note has had their music sped up by a relatively anonymous producer and fed into the app.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about how TikTok reframes listening habits, what fast music achieves that regular-speed music can’t, how musicians are grappling with this new kind of (sometimes unsolicited) attention and how labels are already capitalizing on the trend.

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