There are a few unsung hardships in life, ones that make you question your fundamental happiness, that subliminally render your entire mood for days, weeks or months as borderline defunct. They present themselves as minor annoyances but their impact runs much, much deeper. Not being able to afford to see your favourite artist in concert and spending the hours and days after their show feeling entirely pointless as the only reason you tread this terrible earth is to scream songs like ‘Anti-Hero’ at the top of your lungs, is one of these arteric aggravations. Having your plans cancelled at the last minute when you’ve already got your boots on, had your hair done and douched is another. But there’s one that takes the trophy for muddying the waters of a healthy mental balance, for really being the raw prawn behind the warm radiator that’s creating that funk you can’t quite put your finger on: Music stagnation.
It’s the sensation we’re all too familiar with. It’s 8am, you’ve just got on the train to work, you’ve preliminarily listened to a song you used to love, and it still hits a spot but that spot has become harder to satisfy. So you flick back to the Spotify homepage, all of your most-listened-to are the same names and faces, and your searches are peppered with artists who didn’t deliver the joyous feelings of finding fresh and fitting new music that you’d hoped for when you found them on Instagram or from a movie you watched the other night. Your music diet is well and truly bland. You’ve hit music stagnation.
So, where do you go from here? You could start listening to the artists you loved growing up, or read about some of the amazing artists featured in our 5 Minutes With… section or in our regular HUNGRY print series. Or you could turn to that horrifically addictive little app on your phone you use to make you laugh, cry and become a raging conspiracist; TikTok.
TikTok’s of course a cesspit of humour, Z-list “celebrities”, information and misinformation combined, but there are some jewels in its crown. Food and music are definitely the healthy categories in which to mine the app for all its worth. And sure, take this advice and apply it to ‘food stagnation’ or whatever you want to call it, but here we’re showing you TikTok’s dedicated music accounts that can burn away the music fog and open up a world of artists you’ve never heard of…
Listen to three new songs a day, everyday
Matthew Meyer, better known as @matthew.meyer, is clearly the most dedicated TikToker around when it comes to listening to and sharing new music. And 1 million followers agree, who all subscribe to the 21-year-old’s videos that begin with the comforting line: “Here’s three songs that I’ve heard for the first time this week that I’ve had on repeat.” What follows are tracks like ‘Fever Dream’ by Absolutely, ‘U & I’ by Penny Beverly, and ‘Dado’ by isaintjames. You might not have heard of any, but that’s literally the point. And Meyer doesn’t stop there, with reams of videos entitled “10 songs that I think everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime”, “Songs that unlock my inner child”, and “10 songs for when you’re all alone and drift into your own little world”. Meyer is not only soundtracking your life and the feelings that come with it, he’s a TikToking archive of music new and old you’re yet to discover or rediscover.
Classical is where it’s at, apparently
It seems like putting the words classical music and TikTok in the same sentence would be antithetical – surely an app made for kids to consume mindless content for hours on end wouldn’t be blasting Bach and matching classical mega hits with the film scores people know them from? Alas, hundreds of thousands of users say otherwise, and accounts like @magicofpiano serve as classical connoisseurs producing videos that tie meme culture with the 1800s. One video shows a tweet saying “What’s the biggest ‘I’m him’ performance ever?” with the next slide answering, “Beethoven improvising much of his concerto on the night of the premier while playing with the 2nd-String Viennese orchestra. His page turner famously noted that some pages were completely blank or only had a couple of notes…” All to the music of Piano Concerto No.3. The charm comes in both the memes and the sheer variety, the account’s repertoire of artists like Rachmaninoff, Holst, Mendelssohn, Khachaturian, amongst handfuls of others.
Let TikTok replace that friend who’s always sending you music
TikToker Matt Firestine (@fuegoostine) spends his time suggesting as much new music as possible, much like that friend who’ll send you a Spotify link that you will absolutely, 100% never click on. Except Firestine digs a little deeper and pulls music and songs apart in order to replicate a feeling or a specific time – one that, in the future, you’ll only remember vaguely by the music you were listening to at the time. It is, in many ways, quite a genius method of encapsulating periods or moments in your life in the honeyed, or not, way that you want to. The TikToker’s videos span titles such as “Songs for when the weather is getting warmer and the volume in your car just a little bit louder”, “Songs that feel like a dream”, “Songs you never would have found because life gets really busy sometimes”, and “Songs that make you feel like you’re the main character and you just quit your job three days ago”.
Get weird with AI
The subject of AI probably bores you now as much as it bores us, but what’s often quite an amusing two hours to spend on TikTok is scrolling through all of the AI covers that have been generated. Some okay, some absolutely abhorrent, using voices often sounding like Harry Styles, Frank Sinatra and Freddie Mercury, AI song covers are hardly perfect, or anywhere near for that matter. But if you really want to chuck a spanner in the music cogs of same-y sounds, then this is an option. Maybe stay clear of the likes of Plankton from SpongeBob Squarepants singing ‘Beggin’’ or Yoda singing ‘Billie Jean’.