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Tate McRae's Songs Have Taken Over TikTok: Why She Is the Future of Pop

Pop Culture

Wed, April 17

If you think you haven't heard of 20-year-old pop star Tate McRae, you've probably at least heard her Billboard 100 chart-topping hit "greedy." The song has spent 29 weeks on the charts since its release last September, and over six months later, it is still a prominent sound across TikTok. Although Tate has been active in the music industry for several years, her recent influence on TikTok and other social media platforms has solidified her status as a Gen-Z pop culture icon.

As a long-time fan of Tate, it has been very exciting to watch her rise to stardom and receive the recognition she deserves for both her musical and dance talent. Here is a brief history of Tate's career to date and why I think her social media presence is a master class in promoting creativity online.

Tate's Early Music Career

While many non-fans may believe that Tate is a new artist, it is important to know that she had already built a successful music career before releasing "greedy." After having previously shared several songs and an EP, Tate's first major breakthrough hit was "you broke me first," which spent a total of 38 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 between 2020 and 2021. Before the release of "greedy," Tate also embarked on three headlining tours and released her debut album, i used to think i could fly in 2022.

Sad Girl Bit Got a Little Boring…

…is a lyric from "cut my hair," the first track on Tate's newest album, think later. It refers to Tate's past songwriting aesthetic, which largely consisted of sad songs about heartbreak. Although Tate touched on similar themes in think later, the album is much more upbeat than her previous music and focuses more on the transition from being a teen to becoming an adolescent.

When writing "greedy," Tate followed the mindset of many Gen-Zers today who are tired of thinking about everything wrong going on in the world: she "live[d] in the moment" and chose to "think later." She has described how that mindset carried over into the next song she released, "exes," an energetic and danceable breakup bop. Also, in creating these singles and their accompanying music videos, Tate was influenced by many pop divas of the early 2000s, including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna. Because of this, there is a sense of nostalgia for earlier times present in her lyrics and dance moves.

A TikTok Superstar

After teasing the upcoming release of “greedy” on TikTok, the sound gained popularity when it was used by TikTok influencers to create new trends. One such influencer was Sabrina Bahsoon, better known as “Tube Girl” for the lip-syncing videos she bravely films on London's public transportation. After Sabrina used “greedy” in one such video, TikTok users in various cities began to recreate the trend, spreading the song's catchy lyrics across the world.

Tate's new audience was eager to hear what her next hit would be and was not disappointed when Tate teased "exes" a few months later. The song inspired creativity across TikTok, with ""exes"" dance challenges trending across the platform.

Some other songs that Tate has actively promoted on TikTok include "hurt my feelings" and "guilty conscience," both highly energetic and fast-paced songs.

Throughout the promotion of think later, instead of choosing to hype up songs that matched Tate's already well-established image, she chose to take a creative risk and promote upbeat pop music. In doing so, she was rewarded with stardom. As Tate has openly discussed in the media, by stepping out of her comfort zone, she successfully created and shared a relatable album based on the theme of adolescent spontaneity and both the rewards and consequences resulting from it.

Showcasing Creativity & Movement On Social Media

One reason Tate has become a Gen-Z pop culture icon is her constant effectiveness of using social media platforms to her advantage, not only for promotional purposes but as a means of expressing and sharing her creativity. At 14, Tate released her first song, "One Day," which gained popularity after sharing it on her YouTube channel. During her early teen years, Tate continued to share original music, dances, and song covers in a YouTube series she called "Create With Tate."

Nearly seven years later, Tate has become a global icon due to her ability to effectively showcase her new songs and dances on TikTok. Because she has had so much previous experience posting and promoting her music on social media, Tate is naturally comfortable on camera and fostering a deep connection with her fans online.

Additionally, Tate's history as a professional competitive dancer has given her an advantage that many talented songwriters lack: the ability to easily improvise new movement trends on TikTok. Tate has been a dancer for most of her life and first gained public recognition after being the first finalist from Canada on the television series So You Think You Can Dance in 2016.

Many of TikTok's most popular influencers, such as Charli D'Amelio and Addison Rae, became widely known for the dances they created to trending songs on TikTok. Tate's dance talent allows her to influence TikTok users similarly while also promoting her own music. This gives her much power in the digital age, where most Gen-Zers discover music on social media and online streaming platforms.


bout to b the busiest 2 weeks od my life

♬ exes - Tate McRae


— Tate McRae (@tatemcrae) November 5, 2023

"Tater Tots," the name lovingly given to Tate's fan base, have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming year. Tate's fourth headlining tour, the "Think Later World Tour," kicks off on April 17 and will run across Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Over the year, Tate has already had the honor of performing at the NHL All-Star Game, BRIT Awards, and iHeart Radio Music Awards.

Despite only releasing think later in December, Tate has already teased that she is writing and recording new music. Based on the incredible success of think later, which currently has over 1.6 billion streams on Spotify, fans can only imagine what Tate will accomplish next.

@mattie_d16 tate mcrae performing “greedy” the day after its release at house of blues boston!! @tate mcrae #fyp #concert #music #tatemcraetour #greedy #areweflyingtour #areweflyingtourboston #houseofbluesboston #boston ♬ original sound - mattie 🦋🌻💌✈️

Mattie Diaz
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Writer since Mar, 2024 · 3 published articles

Mattie Diaz is a Music Business major at Berklee Online, an extension of Berklee College of Music. She is based in the greater Boston area and aspires to work in the live music business. Mattie enjoys spending her time traveling, trying new restaurants, and attending concerts.