The New York Times

A history of nightcore, the sped-up songs all over TikTok

TikTok’s musical landscape is rife with passing fads, but one trend has had remarkable staying power: Sped-up remixes are a defining characteristic of music on the app, where #spedupsounds has 8.8 billion views. Many follow the model that made Imanbek’s remix of Saint Jhn’s “Roses” a global smash in 2020: increasing the track’s speed and pitch-shifting the vocals up to chipmunk octaves.

Sped-up remixes of the Neighborhood’s “Sweater Weather” and Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer” have been used in around 2.5 million videos each, and older songs like Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right” and Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” have also received the frenetic helium treatment. Some artists, like Steve Lacy, are striving to beat TikTokers to the punch. He released “Bad Habit — Sped Up” as a single in July.

The remixes’ mainstream popularity is unique to the TikTok era, but the formula was created two decades ago. YouTube users, particularly those who were active in the early 2010s, might know them by a different name: nightcore.

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