Which Mitski Songs are Popular on TikTok, and what is Mitskitok?
I'm sorry it should've been meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Perhaps one of the more unexpected cultural moments of the past year-or-so is Mitski becoming a TikTok sensation. There’s even a whole subsection of the site dubbed “Mitskitok”, with videos totalling well over 2 million views (at the time of writing). In case you’ve been living under a rock, Mitski is a singer-songwriter with six studio albums under her belt. In a sense, it’s maybe no surprise that Mitski has become wildly popular on an audiovisual content platform - Mitski’s storytelling through her songs is entirely unparalleled, narrating the lives of cowboys, pearl divers, and more. Sometimes, though, it can be a little unclear how her songs became mega memes. Let’s take a look at each of her songs that have become popular on TikTok, and what contexts they’re used in.
We love a sad banger. The disco track’s chorus - “nobody, nobody, nobody” - has been used on a whole swathe of TikTok videos with people running away from their “icks” or anything else they don’t want to engage with. Odd choice. In case you’re unfamiliar, icks are essentially repackaged turn-offs, and can include anything from a friend unexpectedly confessing romantic feelings for you, to someone being “too” emotionally available. The trend seems to have mostly died down now.
Washing Machine Heart
Another track taken from Mitski’s 2018 album Be The Cowboy, same as the previously mentioned Nobody, this track blew up on TikTok circa 2021. The line used in this trend is “I know who you pretend I am”, referring to everything from pretending your boyfriend is a fictional character (uh oh), emotional connections to teachers, and a whole bunch of other things that set off my safeguarding alarms.
One of the more wholesome Mitski TikTok trends - much like her songs, the trends aren’t ALL doom and gloom - Strawberry Blond became popular on the back of the cottagecore trend, with a slight edit to the lyrics: “look at you strawberry cow”. A whole raft of other re-writes from the animal kingdom came about too, including this rather delightful 8 minute long mix. This one started in 2020, making it probably the first song of Mitski’s to go viral on TikTok. Incidentally, it’s the oldest song of hers to start trending yet too, as it was released on her sophomore album Retired From Sad, New Career in Business.
First Love/Late Spring
Taking a trip back to 2014’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek, First Love/Late Spring took off on TikTok last summer. Lyrics taken from the chorus are used in this trend: “please don’t say you love me”. This one seems pretty self-explanatory - the setup happens during the pre-chorus, typically that of an argument or unwanted romantic tension, with the punchline landing with the aforementioned line. Short, simple, sweet. Admittedly, it’s generally the same joke landing over and over, but it’s still a pretty good use of musical storytelling. There’s even a scrapbook-style filter to go with it now, presenting the lyrics around the TikToker’s face.
I Bet on Losing Dogs
Less popular than the other trends, but still definitely gaining notoriety on the platform, Puberty 2’s smoky I Bet on Losing Dogs is sneaking its way onto For You Pages as we speak. The line that MitskiTok has latched onto is the opening call of “my baby, you’re my baby”. Not quite on meme status yet, but it’ll probably get there.
Your Best American Girl
Another one from Puberty 2, Your Best American Girl is a cultural phenomenon beyond TikTok. Because of that, it’s actually pretty surprising that this song didn’t become a more popular trend. The grunge track mostly took off on the video platform with the line “I’m not the moon; I’m not even a star”, and although the song was used in a number of contexts, the main one was when discussing issues surrounding racism and colourism.
Should’ve Been Me
Ok, I don’t know if this one has been truly TikTok’d yet, I must admit. But I do know that users on the platform are comparing it to Mario Kart music. It would seem like a shame to leave that one out. Custom music input into Rainbow Road when?
Toni Oisin H.C. is the Head of Audio at QSO Media. Read more of his writing here.