Olivia Rodrigo’s promotional TikToks are relatable Gen Z self-branding

Olivia Rodrigo’s promotional TikToks are relatable Gen Z self-branding

After emerging to status as a Disney big name, Olivia Rodrigo broke the Web. In January 2021, whilst recording track for her now-platinum debut album, SOUR, Rodrigo took to TikTok to advertise her first unmarried, “drivers license.” The observe gained 76 million streams in its first week, breaking a number of international data.

The nineteen-year-old Grammy-winner has been candid about how she takes cues from her musical influences. However every other SOUR unmarried, “just right 4 u,” used to be when put next for its similarities to pop-punk band Paramore’s hit “Distress Industry.”

Whilst Rodrigo ultimately granted Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Josh Farro songwriting credit in August 2021, critics, enthusiasts and trolls alike requested: If Rodrigo isn’t authentic, what makes her stand out?

Rodrigo’s brilliance lies in her use of TikTok as a device to offer her superstar symbol as original to a tender, international target audience. Her use of social media self-branding to remix already present concepts, sounds and texts in recent, new techniques is what makes her and different younger artists and creators shine.

TikTok and original self-branding

Launched in 2018, TikTok is a social media platform that prioritizes short-form multimodal movies combining textual content, symbol and sound. Customers restyle, remix and re-present already-circulating content material, growing what media researchers Diana Zulli and David J. Zulli name virtual imitation publics.

The platform is widespread amongst more youthful customers – in particular the ones in Gen Z.

After liberating “drivers license,” Rodrigo proceeded to put up a now-viral TikTok asking fans to flow her observe. The video options the music and a sequence of video vignettes explaining its importance.

The usage of TikTok’s inexperienced display characteristic, Rodrigo seems sooner than an image of her motive force’s license because the observe performs. Subsequent, a textual content block seems:

“I posted this photograph on Instagram pronouncing how i used to be tremendous excited to power by myself during the suburbs crying lol … idea the enjoy may make a just right music.”

Olivia Rodrigo’s promotional TikToks are relatable Gen Z self-branding
Olivia Rodrigo attends the 2022 BRIT Awards on the O2 Area in London, England.

Rodrigo takes at the ways of different Gen Z TikTok creators on this promotional content material. Via her playful use of TikTok’s cutting edge options, akin to inexperienced display and duets, Rodrigo seems relatable to her enthusiasts and fans.

Parody, promotion and play

Comparable to Rodrigo’s SOUR, viral content material on TikTok isn’t essentially “authentic.” It’s as a substitute an imitation or restyling that provides to an ongoing dialog.

Referencing postmodern philosophers Jean-François Lyotard and Frederic Jameson, thinker Madan Sarup names pastiche as a type of parody that playfully teases the bounds between artwork and existence.

Pastiche demanding situations the dominant cultural conversations via discovering new techniques to remake previous concepts — identical to Rodrigo’s track and promotional TikToks.

TikTok welcomes imitation as a type of innovation. As media pupil Melanie Kennedy explains, repetition is vital to going viral on TikTok. As an example, U.S.-based author Mel Sommers shared her interpretation of Rodrigo’s TikTok, the “drivers license problem.”

The problem is composed of 2 movies stitched in combination as a clip of “drivers license” performs alongside. Within the first video, Sommers lip-syncs alongside to the music’s refrain dressed in no make-up and a sweatshirt. Because the sound transitions to the bridge, she makes eye touch with the digicam and falls backwards. That is instantly stitched with a 2d “glow up” video as Sommers is proven mendacity on her mattress in a complicated get dressed because the bridge performs.

Sommers’ authentic video gathered 1.4 million perspectives and impressed numerous remakes through different customers.

The problem in the end facilitated new readings of “drivers license” whilst selling Rodrigo’s track additional.

A woman sings on stage wearing a purple outfit
Olivia Rodrigo plays on the Glastonbury Pageant in Somerset, England, on June 25, 2022.
(AP Picture/Scott Garfitt)

Rodrigo and the remix

Rodrigo approaches her track as a composition of dad stars previous, very similar to how TikTok’s options inspire restyling already widespread content material. The “once-in-a-generation songwriter” shared her ideas on track and originality with Nylon in 2021: “… I’m going to check out and take all of my … influences and inspirations … and make one thing … I really like.”

Rodrigo and different Gen Z creators curate their superstar symbol through blending content material and social media presence as a blended entity. Rodrigo’s promotional TikTok content material centres on how she takes on present ideas via remix and play.

Via stitches, duets and inexperienced monitors, Rodrigo showcases the postmodern attraction of as of late’s widespread track: a recent face returning to the beats and lyrics of a prior technology.

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