One of the more interesting cross sections in pop culture today comes when an unknown smaller musician’s music become part of meme culture. Learning about how these things come to be, and what they mean for music going forward is something our music directors wanted to discuss, and a new song by artist ‘Engelwood’ has become tik tok famous. But before we get to the meme, here is the original song by ‘Engelwood called Crystal Dolphin:
What is your opinion of the original song?
Shane: Good stuff. Wish it was a little more developed into a “full song” though. I get that attention spans aren’t what they used to be, but come on, some sort of song break or twist at the end isn’t that hard to incorporate. It’s one of those things where I really want to like it more, but give me a reason to play on repeat!
Ryan W.: It’s groovy! It’s funky! It’s fresh! Wish it was longer though. Similar to what Shane said, it was kind of too simple and quick for me to really enjoy it.
Mari: It makes me want to dance. It’s groovy and just songs though it’s super repetitive and I guess it would be super great for background news.
Jett: The song and music video alike, are imaginative and fun. I like that.
Andrick: It’s a song not to be taken seriously, so overall I think it fits the meme very well
Ryan T: The song is cool and the art during the video is incredible. Not everything that happens in two minutes is a good thing, but I really enjoyed these two minutes.
Flint: It’s short, repetitive, and catchy. For those with low attention spans, it’s perfect. It doesn’t mess around, cuts straight to the point, and is a fun little bop.
Brianna: It’s super cute and catchy! It’s a song that doesn’t take itself too seriously which makes for a very fun vibe. I will say that the song playing on a constant loop can get a little tedious, but overall I am here for it!
Derek: The song is pretty fun and catchy, but short. If it was longer and had a little more variety in its sound then I would probably go back and listen to it again. Although it kind of got on my nerves when it played the same part of the song over and over again in the meme video.
Engelwood vibes in the Lo-Fi music scene. Is lo-fi, underrated or overrated?
Shane: Still think it’s underrated. Anytime there is a need to do homework or a low brain power task, lofi is a go to. Something to stimulate while I do something I don’t want to be doing.
Ryan W.: Lo-fi is underrated for sure.
Mari: The only thing I know about Lo-Fi is the livestreams on YouTube.
Jett: Lo-fi is most definitely underrated, I mean I suppose it depends on who you are talking to, for us DJ’s and directors maybe it’s rated fairly. Shout out to Nujabes.
Andrick: I think it can be underrated because there are some rappers who hop on these beats for fun and the result is pretty good. Mick Jenkins took some of Lo-Fi beats for his WATERS project.
Ryan T: I think it’s rated. Any stream or playlist with the title lo-fi in it usually has a lot of traction. You can always find something nice to listen too and it’s really good background music for just doing random tasks.
Flint: Lofi is definitely not over or underrated. I’d say it’s definitely making its way into pop culture, especially now that creating content for social media is so easy and accessible for the masses. If anything, I think that lo-fi music is becoming a sort of pop music, where everyone listens to it, and so many people can produce it.
Derek: I’ve never heard of Englewood before so I’m not really sure how lo-fi they are, but with how huge lo-fi hip hop is I don’t think it’s possible to be underrated. But seems like it’s relegated to background music, especially the type of songs that get played on that Youtube stream that probably only took 20 minutes to make. But a lot of the stuff made by Nujabes or J Dilla is great and is underrated.
Now with that being said, lets get to why this song has become particularly viral over the last month or so. Here is a few of the tik tok’s with the #seeya trend:
How dank is the meme (#seeya)?
Shane: Some bad/cringy stuff… and some pretty decent content. Will it last the 5 seconds of fame, probably not? But it’s good in its place and time. So I’m here for it.
Ryan W.: Some are funny, some aren’t. It follows the basic meme formula I guess, lol. But I like it because it introduced me to the song which I hadn’t heard before.
Mari: I’d its 50/50 you might have sift through the cringe to get through the cringe.
Jett: I don’t know if I’m numb to a lot of memes around me regarding videos, but the #seeya meme kind of reinforces my viewpoint. If I really try to, I can enjoy it?? Maybe I’m jealous that I can’t do that spiral thing with my body. At least it doesn’t involve dancing yourself in front of a camera…
Andrick: Uhm tik tok memes do not hit me as hard as twitter memes but I respect the special effect in this meme
Ryan T: Agree with Andrick on this one. The special effect took me by surprise but I don’t think it’s particularly funny.
Flint: As is the case with all proper memes: the simpler the original template is, the more expandable it is. I love seeing other people’s interpretations and additions to the meme, but also recognize that the more popular a meme becomes, the more prone it is to… awful adaptations..That being said, this one is pretty good. Not a whole lot of room for error.
Derek: It was hard to find any redeeming qualities in this meme. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a Tik Tok meme that I would describe as “dank”, so maybe I’m just out of touch…
Tik Tok has recently become a hub for finding the next internet trend, which in a lot of aspects takes form from a clip of a song including recent coverage by KZUU of song ‘Chinese New Years’ by SALES:
What makes a song particularly meme-able?
Shane: I like to think there isn’t one way for a meme to succeed. I like when there is a lyric that relates directly to what is happening in the clip. But it could also be a subtle bass drop, or the tone that a particular song sets or even if a song/artist is up in coming.
Ryan W.: That depends. Some people use lyrics to make a meme, sometimes it’s just the vibe that comes from the song. It’s gotta have a good vibe no matter what.
Mari: I guess of the humor of the song. If it’s something someone can apply to a “memeable” situation.
Jett: The lyrics, the music video, the artists behind it, and maybe most importantly the sound. Is it catchy, funny, feature bass drops, and/or in some way applicable to a common life scenario? Then it is probably, “meme-able”.
Andrick: Like I mentioned before, meme songs are care free, giving meme creators lots of room to play with.
Ryan T: Songs that get memed are playful. They’ll usually have a solid baseline that makes you want to dance and then some funky beats and lyrics will get mixed in. These kinds of songs are easy for members to latch onto and try something new.
Brianna: It’s gotta be funny and not take itself too seriously, OR it’s gotta go completely in the other direction and take itself way too seriously to the point where we have no choice but to make fun of it.
Flint: I think Ryan T said it best here: it’s gotta be playful. It’s gotta be the kind of song that grabs your attention immediately, or at least has a solid hook that draws you in. I think that this song more than satisfies that criteria.
Derek: It depends on what kind of meme, but in this kind of case where only a very short clip of the song is played, it’s gotta be instantly recognizable. It could be super catchy, have some unique instrumental or vocals, or be funny.
Do you think there will ever be a time where songs, or ‘catchy bits’ will be made specifically for the meme, or in short form content à-la 15 seconds?
Shane: Honestly I feel quite conflicted on this front. I hope to Yeezus we never live in a time where a song is only 15 seconds long. But does that mean short form content isn’t a viable medium? I think it is. How many time’s have you been listening to the song in a commercial or a movie trailer, or a song from a meme and thought, hey, I like that. It’s a point of entry with a different angle that brings more people to the table. Again, not saying 15 seconds is the way of the future, but its a way to show what is the best part of a song.
Ryan W.: I agree with Shane, I hope 15 second songs aren’t our form of music in the future, that would kind of suck. I think songs should be created for whatever the artist is creating them for. I think having songs specifically made for the meme would defeat the purpose of music.
Mari: For sure, I think the rise of apps like Tik Tok we will see more artists specifically targeting that audience. And you consider the amount of musicians who got famous because of Tik Tok (i.e. Doja Cat). So I don’t think it’s my cup of tea but I definitely can see artists doing that in the future.
Jett: Someone will do it…it’s only a matter of time. People like Tik-Tok and Triller so they will find a way to capitalize on popularity by finding a way to make catchy bits and pieces that could work for videos we see on those apps. It doesn’t bother me, however, because full compositions in music will always exist. Artists can’t speak enough either lyrically, or musically to make a 15-second song last for long.
Andrick: Yes, but also artists have been paying meme pages to use their music in a meme for years now. A famous snapchat page “XOTravonVert” has done this and not only do his memes blow up but everyone asking for the song name too.
Ryan T: Unfortunately, yes it probably will come to that. I could see ad agencies that make jingles for commercials try to achieve this. People pay more attention to memes and social media than ads today so it makes sense for them to make the switch. Doesn’t really seem like something that will be profitable but oh well, whatever gets people up in the morning I suppose.
Brianna: Yes. There’s really no way around this one. People want to blow up and have their five minutes of fame (which is all this will amount to before we get bored and move on), and they know that songs like this one are the prime target.
Flint: There are absolutely already songs that have been created solely for meme potential (looking at you, Elon “EDM” Musk). It is interesting how things have come full circle in the sense that songs, or jingles, used to be created specifically for those brief 15-or-so seconds that they were used for in a commercial or the like. It’ll be interesting to see how social media further influences music creation in the coming years.
Derek: I don’t think this meme would have done as well (has it even done well?) if the clip used in the meme wasn’t part of an actual song. I think part of why people like it is that it’s kind of funny to take a random part out of a real song and make a meme out of it. But if songs start getting made just for memes, then I feel like it could spark a vaporwave revival which I’m totally here for.
Thanks for sticking with us for this long article about the cross-section of music and meme culture. If you liked this review or think there is something we missed be sure to let us know in the comments section down below. Here is one last track by ‘Engelwood’ called ‘Lovin is Everywhere’: