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News / Ioná Corrêa / 28 Mar 2024

UGC Hot 100: 7 Songs That Went Viral Thanks To Fans

7 minute read

We break down how fans of popular movies and TV shows have a pivotal impact on the popularity and virality of songs.

There are many different reasons why a song may go viral: Perhaps an artist just released a really catchy single that radio stations can’t seem to get enough of. Or maybe a popular singer with a huge fanbase released  a cover of a song originally by a lesser known artist, drawing the attention of new fans. Or sometimes it’s as simple as a particularly easy-to-join trend on TikTok that drives millions of creations using a given track.  

More recently, social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube have been seeing a different type of trigger for viral tracks: the popular culture crossover. Fans  will create and share UGC using songs that feature in their favourite movies, TV shows and even books. These tracks are chosen either because they were featured in the piece of media that a fandom consumes, or simply because fans have decided that a certain song resonates with their beloved characters and storylines. 

This phenomenon is a huge part of the reason why we have seen some songs that were released years – sometimes decades – ago suddenly shoot up the charts, or blow up on streaming and social media, although recent releases are not exempt from the viral machine either. Here are five of the biggest viral examples from the last couple of years:

Anyone But You: Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield 

A very recent example, the ‘00s pop hit Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield was revived by the release of the romcom Anyone But You. Starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, the romcom has now become the highest grossing live-action Shakespeare adaptation ever, earning over $200 million worldwide. 

Since the movie came out, TikTok has been flooded with videos using the song as the soundtrack to all types of content – from users simply dancing and singing along to the song, to remixes and jokes about the movie.

Unwritten saw a whopping 156% increase in streams after the movie’s release, earning over 1.3 million on demand streams in the span of one week. The official sound is still tagged as popular on the TikTok app and, as of now, has 479.9K videos posted under it.


Glee: Rose’s Turn by Bette Middler (from the musical Gypsy)

While many TikTok users have been trying to find ways to cope with the loss of their favorite songs from the app’s library, following Universal Music Group pulling their music from the platform, Glee superfans have found their silver lining: they can still use the covers of Universal owned songs from the show. 

This has led to a somewhat niche renaissance of Glee covers, mostly within the fandom, but Chris Colfer’s season 1 cover of Rose’s Turn has managed to reach a much wider audience. The lines ‘all that work and what did it get me/why did I do it’ have now been memed and lip synced by content creators all over, with over 150k videos posted – some of them with millions of views. 


The Hunger Games: Can’t Catch Me Now by Olivia Rodrigo and The Hanging Tree 

A cultural phenomenon such as The Hunger Games is bound to have an extremely devoted audience. With now four best-selling books and a highly successful movie franchise, the series has established itself as a modern dystopian classic, beloved by critics and fans worldwide. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when the release of the prequel film ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ in late 2023 resulted in an increase of streams for both old and new songs related to the franchise.

The Hanging Tree, originally released for The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay, Part 1 in 2014 and performed by Jennifer Lawrence and James Newton Howard saw a 58% increase in streams over the first four days of the prequel’s release. The song is also present in the new film, revived by Rachel Zegler’s interpretation of it.

Olivia Rodrigo’s single for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Can’t Catch Me Now, was immediately a viral hit. It debuted as a part of the Billboard Hot 100 chart upon its release and, while it peaked at 56th, it stayed in the chart for a total of 12 weeks. The song also saw a 43% increase in on demand streaming over the first four days after the movie was released. Needless to say, it also blew up on TikTok – the song was being used for several different types of content and was seen as the soundtrack to video edits across several different fandoms. 


Wednesday: Bloody Mary by Lady Gaga

This might be one of the more  unique cases in this list, since Bloody Mary by Lady Gaga never even actually featured in the hit Netflix show, Wednesday. 

The viral dance scene from the show involves Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) performing a goth-style choreography to the sound of Goo Goo Muck by Cramps. This prompted lots and lots of dance covers, but on social media they were always accompanied by a sped-up version of Bloody Mary. In fact, there were so many videos that many people who hadn’t watched Wednesday thought that the song was actually in the show. A viral edit of the original scene with Lady Gaga’s track replacing the one by Cramps was the catalyst for this, and after a while the singer herself also joined in on the trend. 

Due to this wave of videos and fan engagement, Bloody Mary made its way to the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time ever, becoming Gaga’s 36th track to enter the chart. The deep-cut from Lady Gaga’s 2011 album Born This Way reached a total of 6.1 million streams in the US and 4.3 million radio airplay audience impressions.


Stranger Things: Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) by Kate Bush and Master of Puppets by Metallica

The unexpected resurgence of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill was arguably the moment that the Netflix x TikTok revival phenomenon hit the headlines for the first time. Stranger Things, a Netflix original, has broken viewing records for the platform several different times: the 4th and most recent season turned Stranger Things into the second title to ever reach over 1 billion hours viewed, only behind Squid Game. This is also the season that featured 80’s hit songs Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) and Metallica’s Master of Puppets, which sent both tracks skyrocketing up the charts for the first time in years. 

Stranger Things Season 4 includes a highly memorable scene where the newly introduced character Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), a metal lover who was quickly loved by fans of the show, performs the guitar solo from Master of Puppets by Metallica in the middle of a fast-paced action sequence in the Upside Down. The song then went to enter the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time ever, hitting the 40th position 36 years after its initial release. Tutorials and covers of the song earned millions of views on social media platforms, and the band even posted a duet on TikTok of themselves playing the solo alongside the scene from the show. 

Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill had a similar fate. Not only does Max (Sadie Sink), one of the main characters from the show, state that Running Up That Hill is her favorite song ever, her life is also literally saved more than once by listening to the track when facing the main villain, Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). 

The highly emotional scenes put Kate Bush’s signature song in the spotlight, and led to the song hitting a whopping 1 billion streams on Spotify about a month after the show’s release. This made Running Up That Hill (Deal with God) the first song by a female artist from the 80s to reach that milestone. The track also hit 1st place in the U.K. and Australia, as well as on the Billboard Global 200 chart for the first time. Needless to say, it was also all over TikTok and Youtube, being widely covered, remixed, edited and memed across the internet. 

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