Each week, the TikTok Treats newsletter gives a snapshot of the state of music on TikTok, touching on trending hits, emerging artists, superstar moves, ascendant memes, and much more.
TikTok success can strike when a performing artist least suspects it. New Jersey indie rockers Pinegrove’s hybrid of alt-country and indie rock doesn’t resemble much of the music that trends on the platform. In fact, the group recently announced a hiatus following the departure of a key member. But thanks to one fan’s emotional dance, affectionately called “The Pinegrove Shuffle,” their 2014 deep cut “Need 2” is one of TikTok’s most popular songs.
A contemplative, acoustic guitar driven track, “Need 2” is superficially an unlikely song to inspire a dance challenge. However, one TikTok creator named @garrettlee39 felt differently. Locking into the song’s boom-boom-bap drum beat, he spread his metaphorical wings, loosely swinging his limbs along with the music. The unassuming video struck a chord with TikTok’s sizable community of indie rock fans, generating over 8.2 million views since its June 8th upload.
Within days, Garrett had thousands of imitators, as creators hit the newly-dubbed #pinegroveshuffle in various pastoral settings: in the countryside, at a farm, by a lakeside in the rain, or everywhere all at once. Less than two weeks after the original video, the hashtag #pinegroveshuffle has over 38 million views.
The easily imitable dance helped spread the song among TikTok’s community, allowing listeners to develop a deep connection to the song’s ramshackle instrumentation and devastating lyrics. “Need 2” has soundtracked creators’ evolving responses to trauma, important life lessons, and thought-provoking epiphanies. Others lean into irony, comparing the dance to a recent dance by DJ Khaled, or comparing the moves to the uncaring Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Another trend has emerged in parallel to the “shuffle,” as creators on #PoetryTok use “Need 2” to soundtrack some of their favorite verses or share poems of their own.
Though Pinegrove has slowed down their musical output, the TikTok success of the #pinegroveshuffle inspired them to put together a new EP highlighting “Need 2,” including sped-up and slowed versions of the song for their fans on the platform. Over the long weekend, the song reached #1 on Spotify’s US Viral 50, en route to over 12 million total streams, making the relatively unheralded B-side Pinegrove’s second-most streamed song on the service.
With 37k creations to date, “Need 2” demonstrates the evolving nature of music on TikTok. The community picks songs to suit all their emotions, and their creativity knows no bounds. Through thick and thin, they’ll keep on shufflin’.