Entertainment How a 20-year-old student used TikTok to become the summer's breakout pop musician
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- Breakout TikTok star PinkPantheress mixes bedroom pop with old-school UK electronic genres.
- Her latest, "Just for me," is TikTok's "breakout track of the summer" and no. 26 on the UK Top 40.
- PinkPantheress is known for her enigmatic persona, rarely revealing any personal information.
8 months ago, British musician PinkPantheress started to upload song drafts to TikTok.
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They were short and addictive snippets featuring a catchy hook sung over frantic drum loops. PinkPantheress spliced these mini-songs into off-the-cuff clips that usually showed her looking into the camera, sometimes while using a zany filter.
"Day 2 of posting my song until someone notices it," the 20-year-old wrote in on-screen text for one of her.
Now, she's climbing the UK Top 40 chart while scores of stars - including Bella Poarch, Charli D'Amelio, and Lizzo - use her music with their TikTok videos.
announced in August that the artist's latest release, "Just for me," saw the largest percent increase in creators using it for videos from June 21 to August 10, making it the platform's official "breakout track of the summer." The song, a slow-moving ballad with gentle guitar strums and snappy drums, has over 20 million plays on Spotify globally and peaked at 55th place on Spotify's in the United States on August 18.
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PinkPantheress' unique style of pop music, which she described toas "new nostalgic," evokes a combination of Lily Allen's and Clairo's . Her songs mix fast-paced with -like refrains, striking a balance between rowdy club music and confessional-style bedroom pop.
The enigmatic star has also remained somewhat anonymous, releasing hardly any information about herself. Her real name isn't even public knowledge. She's a 20-year-old university student from London, according toand she told i-D that she was born in Bath, England. That's pretty much all fans know as of now. The artist and Parlophone Records declined Insider's interview requests.
"Social media is a very crowded place. I don't feel like I need to overshare and I do really respect my own privacy," she told the. "I don't like the idea of… my face being thrust in people's faces."
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Though there's something incongruous about a social media star who ostensibly doesn't want to be online, her reticence has helped her build anas fans have clamored to learn more about her.
PinkPantheress went viral on TikTok with multiple hit songs
PinkPantheress told the BBC that she only shared her early songs to TikTok because she wanted "closure" after toiling on them for so long.
But instead of closure, it opened up an unexpected career.
Her first viral hit was "Break It Off," a chaotic remix of Adam F's 1994 song "Circles," a staple of drum and bass music - a fast-paced electronic genre with drum loops that creatively uses synthesizers and samples.
To make the song, PinkPantheress lifted the jazzy beat from "Circles" and recorded her own bright vocals over it, adding a heap of reverb so the mix sounds misty and dreamlike. She recorded most of her music in her university halls at 3 a.m., according to i-D.
The tune soared on TikTok from March to May, becoming the soundtrack to a viral fashion-trend.
Around April, PinkPantheress wasby the German-British label Parlophone Records.
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"Just for me" is her biggest song thus far. It went viral on TikTok in July and August and has soundtracked over 1.5 million videos.
"Just for me" hit the UK Top 40 chart on August 26 at 36th place, according to, and climbed to 27th place on September 2.
PinkPantheress combines genres and harnesses nostalgia
PinkPantheress' rise comes as similarare also blowing up within the "new nostalgic" genre, which filters UK electronic music from the mid-90s and early 2000s through the lens of , a lo-fi pop subgenre full of young artists making professional-sounding music from laptops in their bedrooms.
There's something alluring and refreshing about how PinkPantheress' uniquely "hushed" vocal style transforms speedy electronic genres like drum and bass into an introspective, romantic bedroom sound, especially considering theof drum and bass music with large crowds of dancers and late-night raves.
Foranother one of her most popular songs, PinkPantheress flipped the instrumental music from duo Sweet Female Attitude's 2001 UK garage song which itself borrows its from Erik Satie's 1888 piano composition The result is a mishmash of genres and time periods that evades easy categorization.
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Some fans have marveled at how PinkPantheress' music makes them feel nostalgic for a time they never lived through, a phenomenon John Koenig labels "anemoia" in his
"For some strange reason this song is giving me 2004 nostalgia and flashbacks of that era," one comment on a video for "Just for me" reads. "It's new but feels like a throwback."
"This song resonates with me in a weird way," a commenter wrote on an upload ofanother PinkPantheress hit. "I think it unlocked some memories from my childhood [that] my brain blocked out."
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