TikTok is full of all different types of content but the best part of the app has to be the comedic sounds. Things like songs, interviews and even other TikToks often get picked up and meme-afied. Over the last year or so, we’ve all also come to realise the power the platform has over the music industry. Most artists will have one or two sounds blow up, allowing them to gain popularity and fans, but soon the trend fades away and gets forgotten about. However, Nicki Minaj is the one artist consistently going around our FYPs.
The oldest example of Minaj having a viral TikTok sound is Roman Holiday – a song which came out back in 2012. It’s manic tone reflects stress and panic and has produced some hilariously funny TikToks. Whilst I’m not entirely sure whether the meme itself began elsewhere, you can also find the format on Twitter. The sound has been around the entire time I’ve had TikTok, with it recently resurfacing paired with the filter ‘Versailles Run’. The filter allows users to become an animated woman dressed like Marie Antonniette and run through a palace. Roman Holiday has become a style that will never not be funny or feel outdated – remembering the cringey memes of the early 2010s, you realise that’s something incredibly hard to achieve.
As I mentioned previously, quite often, especially on TikTok, sounds just disappear after a while and aren’t often recycled. Another sound that’s had a long life is an interview clip with Nicki talking about her voice acting in Ice Age: Continental Drift. When describing her character Steffie, she says: “She’s a cutesy little ladybug, and of course I call everyone ladybugs if I really love them. But of course she’s not a ladybug, she’s huge.” There’s a cut/jump in the TikTok video/sound so right after she says: “she’s a mammoth, of course.” Her description is so quintenessentially Nicki Minaj from calling everyone a ladybug to the harsh, articulate way she says mammoth. Whilst the sound hasn’t gripped in the same way Roman Holiday did, it has done the rounds on FYPs not just once but twice. The sound opens itself up to self-deprecitaitng humour which probably resonated with users enough to stay around. I think that’s part of it though that Nicki Minaj always says what she means which isn’t always the case with celebrities.
Thinking about resonation, as a short girl I love: “I better watch my 5’2 mouth? First of all, I’m glad you said that. I’m not 5’2, I’m 5’3…”. Users place their phones on a high shelf, using perspective to make them even shorter and lipsync to it. Whilst the description doesn’t make it sound like the most exciting TikTok you can make, the outcome can be great. The sound itself emphasises Nicki’s charisma which makes her so hilarious and charming – it’s no wonder she’s become such an integral part of the app.
However, I can wholeheartedly say my absolute favourite Nicki sound is “Umm, big boobs?… what?… um, chile, anyways, so..” It originates from one of her Instagram livestreams where she candidly reads and responds to a comment. The sound has become one of those pop culture moments my friends and I quote at each other. Again, the reason why it’s so funny is completely down to Nicki’s charm that’s like no other. It’s absolutely amazing that she can do a livestream for 45 minutes and four memes can come out of it completely unintentinally.
There’s even sounds which aren’t really about her but have that je ne sais quoi because she’s involved. At one point, the stereotype of a Frenchman was a meme – berets, baguettes and Café music. A similar style TikTok popped up featuring an image of Nicki forcefully saying “Oui”. Whilst the other sounds are a line in a song or a sentence from an interview, this one is completely fabricated. If somebody had edited an artist like Halsey it just wouldn’t work as the comedy lies in the fact that it’s Nicki Minaj in the video. Nicki is the perfect pairing to Gen Z’s humour that just doesn’t make sense.
The majority of TikTok accounts are owned by this younger generation who grew up watching Nicki Minaj’s career blossom. There’s some nostalgia in looking back on Minaj’s previous work. Over the years Nicki has collaborated with loads of huge names, with Beyonce possibly being the most notable. The iconic track Feeling Myself was released in 2014 but only 4 years earlier Nicki and Will.i.am released a song with none other than Geordie sweetheart Cheryl. Check It Out is yet another song that made the rounds. Everyone on the app was completely dumbfounded that they’d forgotten about this strange collaboration which reached number 11 in the UK. Of course it soon developed into reacting to and quoting Nicki’s line: “They know I’m a beast, yeah I’m a fucking savage. Haters you can kill yourself.” Now, the song is just used as ironic background music to somebody’s strange or relatable thought to add comedic undertones.
Another Gen Z core memory is the Selena Gomez/Justin Bieber drama. Nicki featured on Bieber’s 2012 single Beauty and a Beat, rapping the iconic line “But I gotta keep an eye out for Selenerrr.” The verse has been used in all different ways but most notably alongside the Time Warp Scan. Users make their eyes look like they’re going in different directions – one quite literally keeping an eye out for Selena. TikToker Nosebleedfitz picked up on the song, joking about and making it part of her brand on the app. One of the most interesting things about Minaj TikTok sounds is that so many of her songs used are older tunes. It really goes to show how much of a cultural impact Nicki Minaj made on children around pre-teen age in the early 2010s and has stayed with them.
TikTok is largely known for it’s dance trends and considering Nicki’s influence on the younger generation, her music is understandably no exception. A routine was made to Rake It Up and even influencer Addision Rae posted a video of her dancing to it. It just goes to show that Nicki Minaj has covered all bases on our FYPs.
There’s no ruling out that other artists have also found consistent success on TikTok. Users began to fall in love with Olivia Rodrigo after one of her songs in ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ found its way onto TikTok, and now her entire album fills the For You Page. Lady Gaga, who’s equally as brazen with her words as Minaj, has sounds quite often lurking around the app too. However, neither completely dominates it like Nicki Minaj does. There are sounds that haven’t even been touched on in this article just because there are that many.
Nicki’s success on the app is undoubtedly fueled by her iconic music, her fantastic facial expressions and the really just way she reacts to her surroundings. However, a major key player in her popularity on the social media platform has to be her fanbase, the Barbs. The fandom is known for their ruthless and cutthroat attitude as well as their humour – the fabricated relationship between Tom Holland and Nicki Minaj is just one example of the Barbs’ comedic brilliance. Without their knowledge of Nicki’s musical repetiour and one-liners, the average TikTok user would probably never come across half of these sounds. The Barbs presented us with Nicki’s charm which isn’t necessarily paid attention to unless you are a devoted fan and I want to thank them for it. Their control over TikTok trends has, if anything, made me realise how incredibly slept on the rapper is.
In the same breath, you could argue that everyone is a Barb deep down. I remember every girl going out of their way to learn the lyrics to Super Bass when it was released in 2010. When a Nicki Minaj song comes on in a club everyone loves it, similarly to when a new Nicki Minaj sound goes viral on TikTok.
It goes to show that after 13 odd years into the game, Nicki is still as relevant as she ever has been. Her popularity on TikTok is probably introducing her and her old music to a whole new group of people – a proportion of users weren’t even old enough to start school when Nicki stepped onto the music scene. Without Nicki TikTok memes, I don’t think the app would be the same and it certainly wouldn’t present the same level of humour. It’s most definitely not hard to say that Nicki Minaj is the sound of TikTok.
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