From personal observation, the utilization of nostalgia to gain attention has been quite overdone. In entertainment, musicians and songwriters often use familiar rhythms or chords for listeners to connect the music to something that they already are a fan of. This is where sampling in music comes from, a huge trend we see in music today. Producers use clips from older tracks and add them into their own song, creating something “new.” Listeners usually recognize the sampled track and thus enjoy the new music created from something that they are already familiar with.
On TikTok, there has been an oversaturation of new musicians who want to make a name in the industry. There’s a handful of talented musicians who have a passion for creating music. However, there’s an equal number of “influencers” who are making music simply because they’re able to.
Recently, there has been a wave of new music referred to as “nursery rhyme breakup songs.” This is a subgenre of heartbreak anthems that sample or reference classic childhood melodies. This use of nostalgia has not received too much praise from viewers online. But who exactly is to blame for this new form of music?
I will never forget when Salem Ilese first began to go viral. Her song “Mad at Disney” had the millennials bent out of sorts for months. The track utilized the same melody as Disney’s opening theme. However, Ilse used her own twist on the classic intro. Instead of writing a song that would be more optimistic to align with Disney’s affiliation with childhood joy, Ilse decided to do the complete opposite.
Ilese sang about how Disney led her to a sense of false hope, only to grow up sad and heartbroken. The Disney adults on TikTok absolutely ate this up, leaving the music video with over 30 million views! Personally, I think this song opened the door for future music artists. It started the trend to take a “dark” and “edgy” spin on positive childhood classics. Seeing the success of Salem Ilese inspired influencers to turn to the music industry following the same blueprint.
Whereas Salem Ilese used pop culture to build her platform, I would crown GAYLE for being one of the forerunners to nursery rhyme breakup songs. Taking the classic ABC’s and turning it into a viral “f-you” anthem is insane. When this song made its first round on the internet, I wasn’t sure if listeners took it seriously. Honestly, I still do not know if this song was meant to be taken seriously. Nonetheless, this anthem has gained over 130 million views as it reaches its one-year anniversary.
If I had to put my two cents into this situation, I would say the internet does not understand the concept of “hate viewing.” Giving streams and views for a song is going to support the artists no matter what. It does not matter if the streams are from a fan or hater. When other influencers want to make music and see “ABCDEFU” blowing up, they are going copy GAYLE’s technique to the best of their ability. This explains why there have been so many carbon copies of the same sounding breakup music. If listeners are going to complain about nursery rhyme music, they need to give them less attention for the subgenre to go away quicker.
…Hear me out on this one! Blackbear does not have any songs that directly uses any nursery rhymes. However, I would point fingers in his direction when asked who is one of the forerunners for this wave of breakup music. Blackbear has a lot of catchy and meaningful music in his discography. That being said, “do re mi” featuring Gucci Mane rubs me the wrong way.
It might be due to the wordplay and its angsty attitude, but Blackbear definitely caused a shift in the music industry with this track. Another aspect of this song that the previous tracks share is how it’s impossible to dance to. All of these breakup hits are best listened to while sitting down and letting out a good cry. This could be another reason why a lot of users online are not receiving it well. People want something that moves them physically and emotionally. Dancing to the ABC’s or Do Re Mi is not making the cut.
What are your thoughts on this new take on breakup music? I’m waiting for when someone decides to use “I’m A Little Teapot.” Following that, I have no distaste or hate towards any of these artists. However, I think there is work to be done. Let us know if you think nursery rhymes are here to stay or have had their last verse!