The power of TikTok to generate overnight virality has been proven time and time again. At first, the platform’s explosion felt like a gold rush for independent artists, allowing them an algorithm-based opportunity to cut through the noise and beat out major label artists for attention, fueled by the power of interesting music and engaging content. But as time went on, the corporations caught on, and today, a large majority of TikTok feels like a marketing ploy, carefully orchestrated and without the spontaneity that made so many early viral trends fun.

But as much as marketing departments put their heads together to plan their next viral trick, there’s still a place for authenticity to stand out on TikTok, best shown in the form of London artist PinkPantheress. Garnering her first bout of attention around the song “Pain,” PinkPantheress’ style of TikTok “marketing” is hard to consider marketing at all. To date, the London talent’s most popular release is “Break It Off”—a fast-paced, oddball single which samples Adam F’s drum & bass track “Circles” and has generated over five million Spotify streams to date; a massively successful release for an independent artist, and one that was propelled by this TikTok video, in which PinkPantheress says the song makes her want to walk fast.

Fueled by a taste for experimental, dance-worthy drum patterns and earworm songwriting, PinkPantheress’ rapid rise reflects the power of organic listeners responding to truly unique music. She’s a refreshing new name making exactly the sounds she wants to make, especially if that means pairing a South Korean rap sample with a Fat Joe vocal chop and some pop vocals on “Time With Me.” TikTok loves it, and the corporations are sent back to the drawing table. Authenticity wins.—Seamus Fay

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