The Four Major Categories of TikTok Sounds (Part 1)

Bo Burnham performing his latest comedy special “Inside” on Netflix

So before I say anything else, this article is the first of three parts. I set up some statistics regarding what kind of sounds I see on TikTok, but that doesn’t mean that that is what TikTok will always do. So next month and the month after that, I will do the same experiment I did here to see if anything has changed; to see if the TikTok algorithm is changing what kind of videos and sounds people want to hear.

Onto Science!

There is a pretty big variety of videos one can get on their For You Page, even if they say it’s tailored “For You.” But how balanced is that variety? Do we ever get one type of sound more than another? And does this balance ever change? I don’t know the answers to all of those questions quite yet, but I do have the first part of my experiment ready to go.

I went to my For You page and categorized the sound of every video (excluding ads) for 125 videos. There were a couple of outliers to my major categories, but those can be added in later. Here are the numbers:

Stand Up: 2 (1.6%)

Normal Sound: 27 (21.6%)

Music: 26 (20.8%)

Backyardigans: 8 (6.4%)

Meme Sound: 28 (22.4%)

Musicals: 4 (3.2%)

TV/Movie: 23 (18.4%)

Video Games: 7 (5.6%)

(Yes I did add a different category for the Backyardigans, but that’s only because they showed up so much.)

Beloved kids show turned TikTok sensation “The Backyardigans”. Look at those lovable scamps 🙂

Now here are the main four categories.

Normal Sound: 29 (23.2%)

Music: 38 (30.4%)

Meme Sound: 28 (22.4%)

Media: 30 (24%)

Research findings

As you can see, videos with music in them show up more often than any other type of video; taking first place in a landslide. And since this is a music website, here are some of the artists that I heard during my experiment:

Rick Astley (still a little mad about this one), David Bowie, Olivia Rodrigo, Jackson 5, Miranda Lambert, Bo Burnham (4), Phoebe Bridgers (2), Nicki Minaj, Harry Styles, Little Richard, Coldplay, Beastie Boys, Kendrick Lamar, House of Pain, Dream.

Bo Burnham was the most popular artist, showing up a whopping four times after the success of his latest comedy special “Inside”.  Phoebe Bridgers came in second, showing up with her song “Kyoto” twice.


I’m gonna be posting from inside for a sec so just bare with me ig #boburnham

♬ original sound – Kloe 🙂
An excerpt from Bo Burnham’s newest comedy special “Inside” (language warning)

TikTok has had a pretty big influence on the music industry lately; with sounds originating from there actually reaching the music charts. “Castaways”, a Backyardigans song that has been making the TikTok rounds recently debuted on the top 50 Spotify Viral charts both nationally and internationally. Bella Poarch, a TikToker with over 70 million followers, debuted her newest song “Build a B*tch” last month to what Warner Media described as “the biggest YouTube debut in history.” So while some of you may be confused why I’m writing about TikTok, I think it makes total sense. Maybe this is why TikTok is showing more music related videos than any other kind. Let’s see if this trend continues in Part 2!

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