Paul Anka during the height of his career

Tik Tok Has Gone Full Retro

I have a strange memory from 2017 where I was scrolling through my Instagram Recommended page. I remember seeing the normal amount of stand up comedy videos, stolen memes, and pictures from the new season of Stranger Things. Of course, these days it’s where I get half of my news from, but that’s an article for another day. Anyway, in the middle of a couple of dog videos and a post from some Instagram “comedian”, I saw a video of a young man singing. That part wasn’t so strange, the strange part was that the video was in black and white.

The caption “OMG HE SINGS LIKE AN ANGEL?!?!” adorned the top of the video while underneath there was a clip of Paul Anka singing his hit 1959 song “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” in front of a live studio audience. I was shocked to find that that video had at least a million views. Nowadays, I would wager that over half of the kids in my generation are familiar with that song one way or another.

Four years later, this trend of old music turning new again is only growing, and in large part because of TikTok. That’s right: the cultural melting pot of every Gen Z kid on the internet is also the rebirth of one of the most dated music genres imaginable. Every other video on my For You Page is a mashup of Tchaikovsky and Doja Cat. Or a history meme page. Or even straight up stolen clips from old TV shows like I Love Lucy or The Golden Girls. Whatever it may be, it’s clear that kids my age are looking to the past more and more.

Through the ages

One popular TikTok sound is a compilation of pop songs, one from each decade starting from the 1940s to the 2000s. Content creators use this sound to show the progressions of… well, whatever they want!

This sound has been used in over 30,000 videos, describing everything from teddy bears to football teams to McDonalds. Maybe that just goes to show the variety of people using this sound, and how many people are taking an interest in the way life used to be. A side effect of the pandemic, perhaps?

Gonna Walk All Over You

Another song that has made the TikTok rounds recently is “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra. The 33,000 videos using this 1966 song have teens showing off their outfits for the camera. Sometimes they are modern and exciting, sometimes vintage and nostalgic, and sometimes they actually have boots. Try explaining this trend to your grandpa.


one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

♬ These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a list of more ancient songs that have graced our screens.

“In The Mood”- Glenn Miller and his Orchestra (1938!)

“Sh-Boom”- The Chords (1954)

“Jailhouse Rock”- Elvis Presley (1957)

“You Really Got Me”-The Kinks (1964)

“The Sound of Silence”- Simon and Garfunkel (1964)

“California Dreaming”- The Mamas and the Papas (1965)

The Future of the Past

So where does it go from here? Is the modern music industry going to take notice of this unique trend? Is Travis Scott going to sample Little Richard for his next song? As crazy as that sounds, things like that are already happening. Doja Cat’s 2018 hit “Freak” actually sampled “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” for the outro of the song (Maybe she saw the same Instagram post I did?) Mac Miller’s last released single “Blue World” sampled from a 1952 song called “It’s a Blue World” from 50s vocal quartet The Four Freshman. And Tyler, the Creator (ever the trendsetter) sampled The Ponderosa Twins’ “Bound” for his Igor track “A Boy is a Gun.”

So, yes. This trend is probably here to stay, amazingly. When you see a barbershop quartet at Coachella in three years, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Paul Anka- Put Your Head On My Shoulder
Paul Anka- Put Your Head On My Shoulder

Paul Anka performing his hit 1959 song "Put Your Head On My Shoulder"

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.