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Like a Synonym – Why TikTok’s One-hit Wonders Are Embracing Their Impermanence

The current state of media consumption is, as will come to no surprise to anyone, pretty short and snappy these days.

We’ve come to expect everything right away, with short-form content taking over from the still-short YouTubes of the world and plunging many into the belief that their attention spans have been sanded away. While the jury is still out on the focus front, it’s clear to see that with the advent of TikTok – and with other sites following suit like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels–we’re more excited to consume an hour of twenty-second information blasts than a single twenty-minute video, let alone a full episode of television.

You’d think that even though TikTok has touched down to capitalize on the visual medium, there wouldn’t be much leeway for musical involvement. But it seems that artists have found a way around it – tether your music to dances, use minor snippets of catchy lyrics, or turn your most literal verses into a new conversational trend, and you will soar.

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It’s truly fascinating to see how artists have leveraged this to their advantage, with Joey Valence & Brae using their track “Punk Tactics” to find their niche of fans still yearning for the boisterous, snotty days of Beastie Boys’ rap, or Bella Poarch using her monstrous reach to kickstart a gothic-adjacent dark pop career that has reached Warner Records and talked Grimes into a guest spot on her track “No Man’s Land.” There is potential here – but equally, there are pitfalls that suck artists into its throes. And so far, it isn’t letting them go.

While some songs can become jumping-off points, there are just as many songs that grip the entire planet to such a degree that anything from the artist beyond the familiar becomes a repellant–the musical equivalent of mosquito or cat block.

Take for example Flyana Boss, the artist of the moment (as anyone who frequents TikTok will tell you). Their song, “You Wish,” has reached immense success on the platform with a heavily memed format of the rap duo running through offices, public parks, and now even Spotify’s building towards a camera that bolts backwards, miraculously failing to fall over. It’s no doubt entertaining, as the combination of immense physical energy combined with the snappy, snarky lyrics that the duo bark at the camera is an absolute blast. But it seems as though Flyana Boss can’t escape from under the song’s influence.


Replying to @seasiebby YOU WISH OUT NOW ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS 😭 #flyanaboss #besties

♬ You Wish – Flyana Boss


Replying to @Spotify Running to a playlist near you!!!!! #flyanaboss #evanblummadeit #rap #hiphop

♬ You Wish – Flyana Boss

They’ve made attempts to flaunt other tracks that boast the same biting lyrics and bouncy flow that should have fans champing at the bit, but the flagging numbers under their lip-sync videos of their other works are easy to read with a simple scroll. This makes it no surprise that their account is peppered with the same “Hello, Christ? I’m ‘bout to sin again” opening remark when swiping through it, as their other tracks only ever seem to skate under the million-view mark. It’s hardly a shock, then, that their recent paid promotion with Postmates was accompanied by the song. So far, it seems very much like this is the only thing that people recognize the pair for, when many of their other tracks like “Nu Nu” and “Miss Me” hold the same attitude and playful flow that fans should be attached to.

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The energy of the one-hit wonder is more palpable, perhaps, in the success of Puri’s Coño, a peppy samba-infused trap track that influenced its own dance trend on the site–and in the tune’s incredible spread, which even defied its artist. The song sits on over 250 million streams across both the original track and its remix by pop superstar Jason Derulo on Spotify, though one glance at Puri’s meagre Spotify listeners indicates it isn’t a mark of his success as a producer, but more a fluke that TikTok took and ran away with. It seems impossible to predict how songs will perform on an app that reaches across the planet to any kind of diverse audience, and this effect has clearly impacted Puri, whose most popular track appears to have been a sad one-off of the kind that’s introduced an unfulfilling new definition of success in the industry.


NEW TREND ALERT!!! #CONO officially out everywhere! @justmaiko @itsjonathanle

♬ Coño – Jason Derulo & Puri & Jhorrmountain

Some of this works, though, as evidenced by Flyana Boss themselves, who have fully embraced the popularity of “You Wish,” carrying it out to the point that their taxingly energetic videos have brought them to the attention of Janelle Monae, who the duo will join on select dates of their huge Age of Pleasure US tour. There is a great deal of success yet to be seen from Flyana Boss, but a huge breakthrough has to come in order to breach that one track. Even if it’s spitting bars about Austin Powers that have no reason to be so damn good in 2023.

We’re used to one-hit wonders in the musical landscape, but now we’re seeing far more personality come through in them. Being face-forward to the audience was bound to harvest some extra connection anyway, but the personalities of Flyana Boss are so complimentary to their music that they go hand-in-hand, more so than they do with any others. There’s a good chance that this has something to do with their one song’s meteoric success. We can’t say the same of the likes of Soft Cell and Dexys Midnight Runners, artists who came about in time for the advent of the music video, but had to contend with the fact that MTV and the like would have to play their songs at the same moment you tuned in. TikTok is everywhere, and as such, so are Flyana Boss, racing towards the user with such fervor and excitement it becomes impossible to look away.

Flyana Boss and Puri represent two different sides of the modern one-hit-wonder coin, with one being a large enough voice and presence to hold attention, and the other proving their worth in production, but falling by the wayside in favour of a bigger personality using the song themselves, in videos that are better at capturing attention. 

It’s fascinating that the one-hit wonders of our current musical world are so led by character, but then again, it’s hard to be shocked given that this is the same way visual entertainment has turned. The artists who are succumbing to this restriction are more than worthy of success beyond the songs that made them, it just takes the attention of others to make that happen. Whether the best of them can manage to climb the competitive charts remains to be seen – but if we can make Right Said Fred happen, there’s no reason that we can’t do the same for the next generation.

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Especially if they’re spitting bars about Michael Phelps and Danny Glover.

About the author:

Joseph Kime is a journalist, author and podcaster from Devon, UK. He is the Senior Trending News Writer for gaming site GGRecon, writer of the self-published essay collection Building A Universe, and co-creator of The Big Screen Book Club podcast. After graduating from Plymouth’s MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he’s written for the likes of The Digital Fix, Zavvi and FANDOM. He’s Nobuhiko Ōbayashi’s biggest fan, and will talk your ear off about the significance of Kiki’s Delivery Service.
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