There is nothing new under the sun and TikTok is proof.
If you’ve found yourself endlessly scrolling through your FYP (for you page) lately, chances are you’ve been transported to a moment in time you either love to remember or beg to forget — the new millennium.
With just a few scrolls, users will run into videos of flash mobs dancing to a trap mix of Natasha Bedingfield’s 2004 hit “Unwritten,” creators dressed in 2005 Hollister polos and a random yet delightful revival of songs from early 2000s cartoons.
While the social media app is relatively new, much of its viral content stems from the nostalgia of the rhinestone forward, low-rise jean wearing and phone flipping early aughts.
“Last year, with everything that was going on, it makes sense that we want to go back to what was comfortable to us growing up,” viral trend researcher Agustina Panzoni says.
Social media has given Generation Z (people born between 1997-2012, according to Pew Research) the power of tastemaking on an international level – and the 2000s are it.
Trends that lean on nostalgia tend to run in a cycle, says Panzoni, who focuses on economic, political and media influences on popular culture.
Panzoni says the reason Y2K is a rapid-moving trend right now is because of Gen Z: Apps like TikTok have “helped accelerate” trends because of the ability to share quickly from wider and younger pools of inspiration.
“Y2K was the first time Gen-Zers have actually experienced nostalgia,” Panzoni says.
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“They were young too, so maybe they weren’t really dressing it but they were living it (and) it was inspiring them,” she adds. “Now that they’re adults, they’re taking ownership of that and bringing it back full force.”
Taking ownership of the 2000s goes beyond the clothes, the shows and the songs: It reminds people of the feelings that accompanied those moments.
Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” one of the 2000s cultural cornerstones, is getting a second wind.
The 2004 hit song skyrocketed back into the pop culture stratosphere in March after budding artists Èsco and Shawn P remixed the song with a trap beat to create “Like Yhop.”
The new version of the song became the soundtrack for the now-viral dance challenge by TikTok user @rony_boyy, which has more than 641,000 recreations on the app (including chef Gordon Ramsay’s attempt with his daughter Matilda).
“On TikTok it’s OK to replicate something and make it your own,” Panzoni says.
“I just respect each person as a creator and as a force that has genius and has ideas,” she told USA TODAY. “I want to shine their light, and I’ve done a lot of in my career just trying to draw all the light onto myself and I find it much more rewarding to … give credit.”
The fashion of the 2000s was unique (or questionable): tight mini skirts, baggy pants, lots of midriff and Juicy Couture sweats. Now these items are all becoming trendy again (just take a look at the #popstaroutfits hashtag).
Users like @ageorama, @emilyvudoo, @bry.hm created their own version of the hashtag which shows TikTok creators using Britney Spears’ “Circus” to show off their take on the Y2K outfits of the rich and famous.
While the fits they recreate are glam and fabulous, some fashion bloggers and content creators like Erin Miller are poking fun at the more ridiculous reality of 2000s outfits.
Miller, @overthemoonfaraway on TikTok, garnered more than 1.5 million views after making a skit dressed in 2005 fashion. She layered two Hollister polos, styled her hair in the infamous side swept bangs, accessorized with a puka shell necklace, a sequined purse and a flip phone with Kelis’ “Milkshake” set as the ringtone.
“I lived it,” Miller, 31, says. “I was in high school from 2004 to 2008.”
The TikToker is older than the Gen Z influencer crowd but actually had these items in her closet. To execute the idea on TikTok, she had to hunt for the specific Y2K fashion items on eBay and Poshmark.
“It’s so funny because most people comment ‘How do you have these artifacts? What is going on?’ ” says Miller.
Nickelodeon may have aired animated musical series “The Backyardigans” in 2004, but in 2021 it’s part of pop culture again.
A TikTok earworm has emerged from a 2005 episode, “Castaways.” The titular song has been used more than 818,000 times on the app, with users making skits from the lyrics “We’re stuck where we are, no house, no car.”
Even “Truth Hurts” singer Lizzo made margaritas while singing the tune.
Why has this random song aimed toward 2000s era preschoolers gone viral? “Backyardigans” music composer Doug Wieselman says: “I don’t really know.”
“We would spend a lot of time working on this music, and (fellow composer) Evan (Lurie) would say ‘You realize our audience is 3 years old?’ ” Wieselman says.
He said the Bossa Nova style of the song is a “pleasing kind of music,” and while he doesn’t know why “Castaways” is so popular now, he says it provides a “nice, good feeling” that people want during the difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic.
He adds: “It’s been a strange time and people are looking for comfort and a bit of nostalgia when they were four or five years old and life was simpler.”
Contributing: Anika Reed