To many kids my age, life revolves around pop culture, but in many different formats. Whether it’s the new Star Wars movie that has you hooked on Baby Yoda memes or playing Fortnite with friends, it impacts everyone in a different way. For me, it’s a wide variety of music that spans over the course of decades.
If you’re on social media these days, you might have seen that music is the center of the millions of posts, tweets, and videos that are shared every day. It’s always lurking in the background of any YouTube upload or video game. It’s what keeps us engaged and interested in whatever is going on the world currently. Music has even made its way into TikTok, a trending app that allows users to upload short videos of themselves lip-syncing and dancing to popular songs or their own audio that they record. Users can do almost anything their heart desires—cosplay, taking part in viral dance crazes, creating detailed cartoons, painting on their clothes, you name it. But behind almost every video is the music.
Most of what is used on TikTok is sampled from trending artists. It’s what helped generate the growth of up-and-coming singer Lizzo, rapper Lil Nas X, who blew up overnight with his and Billy Ray Cyrus’s hit, Old Town Road, or even a classic like Mariah Carry, whose song "Obsessed" prompted a new viral dance. But the music on the app isn't just limited to rap and pop. In fact, I’ve taken notice of a small presence of classical music on the app. For example, Can-Can Music by Jaques Offenbach is especially popular right now. Since it was once used as a base for a music video by ASAPScience, which listed each element of the periodic table, a lot of people who were shown this video in school are able to connect over it. Another example from when TikTok was just starting off is a string quintet piece by Luigi Boccherini, where users would show off expensive belongings to match piece’s prestigious sound.
It’s not only on TikTok, though. Classical music is sprinkled into television shows, car commercials, and everything else. But why?
My theory is that popular music released nowadays isn’t emotive enough to push someone to buy a product, or keep them engaged and devoted to a show or movie. While this may not be the case for an app like TikTok, as pop is used much more than classical, the concept is still similar. Classical music allows people to express emotions and ideas, and through use of a variety different styles and instruments to achieve this. The bright, yet loud Can-Can is danceable even if there are no words needed to help show expression. And when Vivaldi’s Winter is used in an advertisement for the new Toyota vehicle, it sparks the feeling of intensity as the car speeds along a mountain road, not stopping for anything.
I’ve always found this idea interesting, as one of my first tastes of classical music was from a children’s show called Little Einsteins, which featured a new musical and artistic piece in each episode, and would recur over and over throughout to reinforce the mood and theme. As a five-year-old, I learned to love Bizet’s Farandole and Grieg’s Anitra’s Dance. In fourth grade, I picked up the viola as a result of watching the show and wanting to recreate my favorite pieces from my childhood, and now, as a young adult, I am able to recognize a lot of these pieces wherever they appear.
In summary, I believe that classical music is a cornerstone of pop culture today. It inspired how popular music developed in its early days, and how it even is created now. People love it for the themes that express emotion, even when words aren’t present. I believe that if classical music has survived this long and impacted our culture in so many ways, it will continue to long into the future.