When Vine was shut down two years ago it left a massive hole in our hearts. Until we discovered TikTok, the new, not-really-new social media platform where users post short, 15-second clips of anything from pranks to dance challenges to videos of their pets dressed in funny outfits.
Formerly known as Musical.ly in the US, Chinese social media network TikTok has had a meteoric rise, becoming an endless source of creative short sketches, similar to the even shorter Vine skits. It is best known for its act-out and lip-synching memes backed by music and other sound clips, which are reproduced and remixed among its young users. That’s also why it is often referred to as the lip-synching app.
Regardless, if you find TikTok cringeworthy and bizarre, that’s probably because you grew up in the age before the social web. Generation Z’s love the goofy online sharing platform and many now make money off it. It’s simple, funny and irreverent – and a refreshing change of pace from more serious platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. It’s the ultimate procrastination app and can suck you in for hours.
Here are 22 of the best TikTok memes we could find:
1. I’m Already Tracer
The “I’m Already Tracer” video has become the definition of an earworm. The meme is a series of duets in which users record videos of themselves lip synching lyrics from the song “No Mercy” by The Living Tombstone. It all started when the Mashed YouTube channel uploaded an animated music video for the song in 2017. The song contains a segment in which YouTubers Black Gryph0n and LittleJayneyCakes sing an argument over which characters to play in the game Overwatch. The takeout from the song has spun off into thousands of TikTok videos of users acting out their own version of the lyrics and has reached somewhat of a cult status.
2. Stair shuffle dance challenge
Who doesn’t love a catchy beat? Add to that some flight footed girls doing a stair shuffle and you’ve got yourself a viral meme. The TikTok stair shuffle dance challenge had thousands of users busting their moves up the stairs. It even led to the creation of tutorials on how to do the dance and the tune is simply addictive. (PS. Do not try this at home without adult supervision.)
3. Dame Tu Cosita
The song “Dame Tu Cosita” (which translates to “give me your thingy”) was originally written in 1998 without much fanfare. Twenty years later, in October 2018, it took off massively when French video game animator ArtNoux used it as the soundtrack for his animated green alien. Not only did it spawn hundreds of TikTok videos of users imitating the alien’s dance moves, but it entered the Hot 100 at No. 81 with 10.4 million US streams and 1,000 downloads. Dodgy lyrics notwithstanding, the song and its friendly green alien is a hit with the children, who try their best to imitate his dance.
4. Gummy bear Adele
The scene opens with a lone gummy bear belting out the first words of the chorus to “Someone like you by Adele. Then, gummy bear Adele’s mic cuts out and the audience sings the rest of the chorus as the camera pans over a crowd of gummy bears. The gummy bear crowd stretches as far as the eye can see as hundreds of bears sing with Adele. It’s the feel-good video of the year and has inspired similar creations on TikTok.
5. People doing fascinating jobs
One of my favorite things about @tiktok_us is when people share videos of their jobs.
— Kaitlyn Reed (@kkaitlynreedd) April 18, 2019
Ever imagine how ice sculptures are made, bobby pins packaged, and broccoli bundled? There are so many weird and wonderful jobs out there and now many of them are being showcased on TikTok. One user, Kaitlyn Reed put together a Twitter thread on everyday and mysterious jobs. Some may seem mundane and tedious (like aforementioned bobby pin packaging) but displayed incredible skills by the people who do them. Watch and be amazed.
6. Karma is a Bitch
The “Karma is a Bitch” challenge is the ultimate vengeance. In it, users start by looking normal in a video selfie and then pull a scarf, blanket or piece of clothing over their heads to reveal their beautiful, sexier or more good looking self. There’s also the ironic version where users look the same after the blanket reveals their true self, punted with the hashtag, #showyourbeauty.
7. Head banging dog
You know when your song comes on the radio and you just can’t help jamming along? Neither can this dog. The head banging pup has gotten almost 200 000 hearts on TikTok and is pretty good for a giggle if you’re having an off-day. But then again, so are all pet videos, of which there are plenty on TikTok.
8. Pet dress-ups
While we’re at it, why people dress up their pets? Because it makes for really funny TikTok videos. These guys dressing up their dogs as teddies and making them race down the hallway definitely have a sense of humor, and that is what the app is all about. If you need a laugh, watch this one. It’s mindless fun.
9. Taylor Swift song interpretations
In April, pop sensation Taylor Swift dropped her single “Me!” featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco. The video features kaleidoscopic pastel colors, ensemble dance numbers, and several changes in costume and scenery. Now it’s trending with the #AnotherLikeMe challenge. Swift’s official TikTok account posted a clip from the “Me” music video with the hashtag #AnotherLikeMe and the caption, “Show us your best re-creation of this dance, use MEdancechallenge, and we will find our favs”. The challenge went viral in next to nothing. It won’t be the first time one of Swift’s songs has taken over TikTok. The app is full of videos to which Swift’s songs feature as the soundtrack.
10. Subway time warp
If stepping out of a train carriage into an alternate universe sounds strange to you, you should have a look at this TikTok video. It is exactly that and has led to a massive trend in China with TikTok users making similar videos. Even the subway system in the city of Xi’an has gotten in on the action, sharing a video that shows two employees dressed in casual clothes exiting a subway car and stepping onto open train tracks, ready for work in blue coveralls and yellow safety vests.
11. Nala the cat
Nala Cat is an 8-year-old Siamese/Tabby-mix that was crowned as the best TikToker of the year in 2018 by the Shorty Awards in New York. She was rescued from a shelter at the young age of five months old and her hypnotic blue eye have been charming social media users ever since. Nala holds a Guinness World Record for most popular cat on Instagram with nearly 4 million followers. She also has more than 142 000 TikTok fans and frequently drawing “awws” from her audience, uploading photos from her life around the house.
12. The ultimate friend zone
American Dominic Toliver is the king of short form, online comedy. After building a huge following on Vine, Dominic now has more than 6 million fans that have given his uploads nearly 130 million hearts. His ultimate friend zone video received 1.2 million hearts for its perfect blend of comedy and music, incorporating lyrics and songs into his sketches. Before the advent of TikTok he was popular on Vine, earning more than 90,000 followers on the short form video app. Dominic’s TikTok profile launched his career as a social media star and comedian. He is also a model (for obvious reasons).
13. ‘Yeah!’ By Usher
Sometimes all you need is four notes and a paper basket to make a hit anthem. Which is exactly what this TikTok user realised. Recognise this song?
14. Shoe change challenge
The #shoechangechallenge, complete with catchy song, had TikTokers changing their outfits on the beat of the song by kicking their shoes into the screen. The challenge actually started with shoes changing as people stomped the ground on the beat of the song, but evolved into outfit changes. It was one of 2018’s most popular trends and was viewed over 12 million times.
15. Hit or miss
If you’ve heard someone randomly yell out the phrase “hit or miss” in public lately, you can blame TikTok. The social media platform has inspired a real-life challenge, where people yell the phrase and wait for a response. If they get one, they know that there’s another TikToker nearby. Even better if they capture it on video so that they can share it on TikTok.
16. Trendy grandparents
Grandparents who are up for some fun are the best. This elderly couple, no doubt filmed by their teenage grandchild, love doing dance moves on TikTok. We just wish they could use the camera right. Nevertheless, their moves are priceless and they seem like the grandparents every child needs in their life.
Cosplay, short for “costume play” is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. In the age of the Internet, this means dressing up to look like an anime, manga, video game, Japanese rock, or Kpop character. It is a huge, ongoing trend on TikTok that has inspired hundreds of videos.
Executing the perfect prank can be quite tricky if you only have 15 seconds to do it. But TikTokers have mastered the art, pranking their parents, friends and loved ones. The quick-fire pranks have become part and parcel of TikTok, and have redefined the comedy form. With sketches, scaring people and creative editing, TikTok’s prank wars are the new America’s Funniest Home Videos and more. Not only do users prank and outsmart their friends but they also compete against each other for the most hearts.
19. Ice cream man
This ice cream maker has found internet fame with his over the top ice cream preparation “for all the beautiful ladies out there”. The man known for his handcrafted ice cream-making technique is Pan-n-Ice cofounder Rob Huysinga, who masterminded the video sensation.
After a video of him making ice cream from scratch on an ice plate at a British kiosk caught the attention of TikTok users, nearly 14 million people viewed his dramatic preparation of the Nutella and the Oreo mix-ins on Twitter. He now has a steady following and is using his talents for good by making ice cream for charities to draw attention to special causes.
20. Teens eating their own fingers
The finger eating meme has had some people in stitches and others in tears. Many users have taken part in the meme created with TikTok’s mirror effect, and the result is a shareable, mesmerizing optical illusion. The videos call to mind the wacky PhotoBooth visual effects webcam that led to hours of fun.
21. Cringe videos
The cringe-factor is one of the foundations of TikTok’s success. For a while, cringe videos were the essence of what made the app popular. These are usually videos in which someone does something embarrassing or awkward in a sincere manner. YouTube users would take the most cringeworthy videos and create compilations and reactions to them. As TikTok evolved, users have embraced the fun of making cringe-inducing content.
Duets are another core part of the TikTok experience. Think of it like remixing a song. Users can take another person’s video and add to it. It’s like setting up a joke and giving another person the chance to deliver the punchline. For example, someone may post a video of them dancing on the above-mentioned Taylor Swift song. Other TikTok users can then take that video and add themselves performing corresponding dance moves.