Despite controversy in the US, TikTok has risen to become one of the best-known social media apps in recent years. With 800 million users, the home of the 15-second clip is now a global hub of lip-syncing, choreographed dancing and even recipe sharing, creating some of the most unlikely stars in the digital galaxy along the way. As its co-founder Zhang Yiming steps down, we round up six of TikTok’s greatest hits.
No one was more surprised than Nathan Evans by the success of his rendition of a 19th-century folk song about the whaling trade. The Scottish postman’s performance of Wellerman sparked a wave of imitations and tributes on TikTok, leading to an unlikely revival of the sea shanty. Evans’ performances have earned him more than 1.3 million followers on TikTok, and after Wellerman’s popularity grew, he was signed by Polydor and reached No 1 in the UK singles chart.
The Idaho farmer-turned TikTok sensation Nathan Apodaca, aka Doggface, has 6.7 million followers and 93.4m likes on his TikTok page. Last year, a video of him skateboarding, listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice went viral.
This video didn’t only made him a celebrity, it also brought Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 song back to the music charts at No 1 and the Rumours album to No 7.
Sarah Cooper’s Trump show
TikTok is changing the way young people consume politics – and comedy. So when the comedian Sarah Cooper began to lip-sync the former US president Donald Trump, her videos immediately went viral.
This one on how to TikTok was created when the fate of Zhang Yiming’s video-sharing app was in question in the US. For those who followed the topsy-turvy Trump presidency and his relationship with China, it needs little explanation. The video has generated 3.1m views.
Canadian singer the Weeknd’s 2019 single Blinding Lights became the soundtrack to a wave of TikTok creations. From a father-to-be performing while his wife was in labour to builders dancing on a rooftop during lockdown in “self employed and waiting for Boris”, the #blindinglightschallenge hashtag has generated more than 500m views on TikTok.
To the 🐝 🐝 🐝
TikTok has propelled many young unknowns into the limelight, and the Filipino-American Bella Poarch is one of them. She has so far amassed almost 69 million fans and signed a deal with Warner Records. Her video is perhaps one of the most popular on TikTok in the past year.
Being British on TikTok
TikTok is not just for generation Z. American mum Michelle, a military wife living in the UK who goes by the name of @jchelle36 on TikTok and the Tea Butcher on Instagram delighted and outraged viewers in equal measure with her unusual takes on British cuisine – posting tongue-in-cheek videos on how to make everything from fish and chips (using a dead fish found on the beach) to brewing the perfect cup of tea (in the microwave).
Chef Gordon Ramsay was moved to respond, filming himself watching her on TikTok in horror.