Sped-up remixes are nothing new, as they have been on YouTube for ages as “nightcore” remixes. But what makes this discussion interesting is the involvement of record labels capitalizing on this trend by giving these sped-up remixes official releases.
So what is the appeal of sped-up songs? Are they actually fun to listen to, or are they grating to listen to?
Nightcore has experienced a major comeback thanks to TikTok, and these sped-up songs have become the norm, driven mainly by fan editors who create nightcore remixes of their favorite tunes. Undoubtedly, their popularity reflects the way TikTok and digital natives consume media and, ultimately, the fast-paced nature of modern societies. Much has been said about the decreasing attention spans of people on such platforms; therefore, it is safe to say that the development and popularity of sped-up songs was a no-brainer, given that speed and content quantity are TikTok’s top priorities.
These sped-up remixes reinforce TikTok’s emphasis on dopamine-rush simplification as an ideal intake, allowing viewers to enjoy a snippet of a song at a quicker rate, soundtrack a trendy dance, turn a sad song into a happy one, or elevate the appeal of a thirst trap. By removing pauses, intricate instrumental breaks, and slow moments within the song, sped-up songs invite the listener to focus on the vibe rather than on the song’s meaning and on the visual at hand. But it’s not just new tracks either: sped-up versions of older songs are finding new audiences on TikTok and boosting the original tunes back into the charts.
However, the obsession with speeding up songs and removing all tone and uniqueness from a voice feels like just another way towards mainstream approval over actual rarefied talent. The trend of sped-up music is also not just limited to TikTok; it’s solidified its place in recreational listening. The popularity of the genre represents a shift in the way we consume music. With more and more songs becoming disassembled into a series of high-impact short bursts, it is clear to see that we no longer just want the best songs; we want the best bits of the best songs.
As said by TikTok’s Music Content Manager Clive Rozario, “More artists and labels are leaning into the ‘catchy’ moments in remixed versions… Not only does this drive engagement with the original track and give it a boost up the charts, but in some cases, the remixes see even more engagement than the original. Labels are embracing this, responding to fan demand and actively promoting newer versions that take off.”
This leaves many artists at the mercy of TikTok, with followers having control of what songs blow up and, therefore, what song labels care to pay attention to. I personally like and dislike this trend of sped-up songs. Sometimes you just want to listen to music that is brighter, buzzier, and more stimulating than their sluggish counterparts, and that is 100% okay. Although, I feel like this type of music shouldn’t become a necessary demand from all artists. Simply put, an artist should be free to release the music they want to release, but the sad reality is that with the constant change in consuming music, it would be hard to keep your songs in business if everyone else is releasing these official sped-up songs and remixes.