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Funny, poignant, catchy — trending sounds are the backbone of TikTok virality and can often make or break a video’s success.
According to research by the short-form video platform, “sound is the anti-scroll on TikTok”. With their data, it’s not hard to see why. Eighty-eight percent of TikTok users said that “sound is essential to the TikTok experience,” while 73 percent admitted they would "stop and look" at ads on TikTok with audio — both stats significantly higher than other platforms, TikTok said (though they didn’t offer a comparison).
Of course, it’s not always easy to find the TikTok audio resonating with people at the peak of its popularity (and no one wants to use a sound that’s become boring and tired with a video clip that’s taken them ages to film).
In this article, I’ll dig into exactly how to source the best audio clips for your TikToks while they’re still popular, plus give you some examples of TikTok sounds with staying power: a selection of the best clips of 2023.
Plan, create, and schedule content to get more exposure and engagement with Buffer's TikTok scheduling and analytics tools.
How to find new trending sounds on TikTok
Yes, you could spend hours scrolling through the platform (honestly, I wouldn’t complain) but if you’re a busy creator, business owner, or social media manager, you probably just don’t have time for it.
Luckily, there are a few little shortcuts you can take to make this process a whole lot easier so you can get to the real work of content creation — filming and editing your short-form video.
Use TikTok’s search function
You may have heard about TikTok SEO or that TikTok is the new Google. According to The New York Times, it’s Gen Z’s search engine of choice.
It's not hard to see why. The platform has a pretty great search function — and it’s probably one of the simplest ways to discover trending sounds. Here’s how to do it.
- Tap the magnifying glass icon on the top right of the app to open the search tool in the TikTok app
- In the search bar, type a phrase like “viral sound”
- Tap the ‘Sounds’ tab and scroll through, paying special attention to the ones labeled ‘popular’
- When you find a sound you like, tap on the ‘Use this sound’ button on the bottom right to add sound to the editor
- Record or add your clips, and you’re good to go!
Check out TikTok’s playlists
TikTok has curated a sound library of sorts based on genre, category, and what’s performing well in your area. To find them:
- Tap the ‘+’ button on the bottom middle of your screen (don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’re instantly adding a new video)
- Tap the music note icon on the right
- There you’ll find sounds recommended for you, plus a host of categories created by TikTok
In the screenshots below, you’ll notice TikTok’s picks for me are dominated by South African artists since that’s where I’m based.
Follow accounts devoted to viral sounds
You’ll notice that when you search for viral sounds on TikTok some profiles will pop up too: there are plenty of creators who cover this in their content. Of course, some are more consistent than others — here are some I’ve found to be helpful:
TikTok strategist Presley Wolf is a great creator to follow for content advice. She regularly predicts new trends in audio and recommends how to use them, too.
Happy Sundayyyy 🧚🏻♀️ did you work through the weekend or let yourself rest? 😌⚡️🦋
♬ original sound – evelyn ⛤
Brett covers music exclusively (no audio clips), but his videos are a great source of inspiration. Along with a series on trending TikTok songs, you’ll also find fun compilations like ‘Songs that hit a little harder on a rainy day’ that could be useful in your editing.
@brettwolkey I can’t be the only one who thinks this song is sooo catchy #makeba #viralsong #trendingsong ♬ Makeba – Jain
Creator MMXVII regularly shares quick videos featuring sounds and music that are rising in popularity, plus weekly round-ups that feature a selection of top-performing songs and their stats. One commenter claimed this TikToker helped him grow his following by 8,000 people, with one of his song recommendations.
@im_mmxvii 3 tiktok songs to use this week to boost your videos 💥🤞🏼 (Jul 10 – 16) #tiktoktrending #tiktoksounds #popularsong ♬ Makeba – Jain
Check out Tokchart and Tokboard
Websites like Tokchart and Tokboard are entirely devoted to tracking trending TikTok audio.
Tokchart seems to be updated more frequently, but Tokboard does offer a bit more info on the audio, including countries in which the sound is trending, plus hashtags most used in videos that feature it.
Try CapCut templates
The CapCut video editing app is one of the best ways to identify emerging trends (our Social Media Manager Mitra Mehvar highly recommends it).
To do so:
- Search for posts tagged #capcut or just ‘capcut template’
- Find a recent post you like and then tap the ‘CapCut – Try this template’ button
- You’ll be prompted to download the CapCut app, if you haven’t already
- In CapCut, add your clips to the templates, make some tweaks if you need to
- Download the clip to share on TikTok (or use Buffer to repurpose it for Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, too)
Check out Spotify
There are a plethora of Spotify playlists that curate trending songs TikTok music. A simple search for ‘TikTok’ on the music streaming platform will help you find them.
You could also go straight to the source: TikTok has its own Spotify profile where you’ll find several playlists curated according to the songs trending in a specific region.
Sign up for the Buffer Social Media Newsletter
No one knows more about trending audio at Buffer than Mitra — in fact, she picks one a week to feature in our social media newsletter. If you’d like to have her recommendations sent straight to your inbox, sign up here. She covers Instagram Reels audio, too!
Bonus tip: Know how the sound is being used
Finding the TikTok sound or audio is half the battle. It’s important to know how they’re being used to tap into the trend.
To make sure you’re not missing out on important context, use TikTok’s search function to find the audio. Hit the magnifying glass on the top right of the screen, type in the name of the song, tap the ‘Sounds’ tab at the top of the screen, then tap on the sound to see how other users have used it in their videos.
Top trending TikTok sounds of 2023
Using a combination of all the methods above (and many recommendations from Mitra), I’ve pulled together a list of TikTok sounds that, as Brett Wolkey would say, hit hard. Here’s a list, plus examples of how to use them.
If you’ve been on TikTok in recent months, chances are you’ve heard Makeba by French singer-songwriter Jain.
The catchy track is about South African musician and anti-apartheid activist, Miriam Makeba. It was released back in 2015, but its TikTok virality saw it surge in popularity in 2023.
The song has been used in a variety of contexts, but very often in conjunction with a clip of actor Bill Hader dancing on Saturday Night Live to showcase something the poster is feeling smug about or particularly proud of.
Here’s how we used it to share more about the perks of working at Buffer (definitely something we’re proud of!).
@bufferapp I love it here #CapCut #salarytransparency #buffer #workbenefits #workperks #futureofwork #remotework #remote #wfh #4dayworkweek #4dww #fourdayworkweek #salariesintech #booktok #bookrecommendations ♬ original sound – Ian Asher
2. The drive-by
This audio features the soothing sound of Besame Mucho by Lisa Ono, before being drowned out by the woosh of a car driving by playing Delincuente by Tokischa.
This audio is usually used to show the poster quietly going about their business before being distracted by someone or something.
Here’s how @vanessasirias used it:
@vanessacsirias #POV me trying to romanticize the sunset when my past self passes by #comedy #latinasbelike ♬ original sound – Vanessa Sirias
3. Switching sides
This brief clip features the sounds of a soldier communicating his position to his squad mates (which my husband swears is from Call of Duty, a computer game). It’s great for illustrating how you’ve changed your mind about something or realized the grass is really greener on the other side.
Mitra used this one to show how pro-remote work she is here. Here’s another great example from creator @lilcoffeyy (with a Barbie Girl cameo at the end, too).
@lilcoffeyy Barbie? Let’s go party. #foryou #fyp #oppenheimer #barbie #movie #lilcoffeyy ♬ Switching sides – Mr. America
4. Pretty Girls Walk
Whether it’s a video of you on a night out, your toddler, or your pup, Pretty Girls Walk by Vette is another viral sound with many applications.
If you’re after a bit of humor, though, it’s best used a bit ironically like this video by @crooked_triangle.
@crooked_triangle I really hope this reaches the right audience. If you get it-you get it. #sensoryissues #overstimulated #crumbsonthefloor #prettygirls #momtok #adhd #mentalhealth #fyp #relatable ♬ Pretty Girls Walk – Big Boss Vette
5. More passion, more energy
There are so many ways to use this hilarious audio, which sounds a lot like a photographer giving instructions to a model during a photoshoot (though to be completely honest, I was unable to track down the original sound).
It’s often used with clips of animals, but also works to illustrate how excited you are about something or, conversely, how you have to hype yourself up for something.
I’ve watched Mitra’s clip below way more times than I care to admit and crack up every time.
@bufferapp Always making sure the captions are top tier #socialmediamanagerlife #socialmediamanagerproblems #socialmediamanager #contentcreator #creatorproblems #marketingproblems #socialmediacaptions #socialmediacaptiontips #buffer #marketingtips #captionideas ♬ original sound – MORE ENERGY 😎
6. The Way I Are (Sped Up)
This noughties hit by Timberland went viral on TikTok in 2023, thanks to an easy CapCut template and a major eye-roll by Christiano Ronaldo. No surprise then that it’s best used to show something eye-roll-inducing.
The perfect example: A video from a creator @jazzy_hopper whose mother-in-law wore a white gown to her wedding.
@jazzy_hopper #mil #boymom #motherofthegroom #whiteweddingdresses #toxicmil #milwearingwhite #sonsweddingday ♬ original sound – ozu ♚
7. This is the worst
A clip of Steve Carell’s character from The Office, Michael Scott, announcing “This is the worst” has gone viral across platforms. With its many self-explanatory applications (and another easy CapCut template), it’s not hard to see why.
The sound can be lipsynced to the way that @austinarmstrong did here, or you can give your video the full Micheal Scott treatment the way Mitra did below.
@bufferapp Friday me shouldn’t be allowed to make these decisions #CapCut #workproblems #todolist #corporateproblems #worklife #michaelscott #thisistheworst #workdistractions #mondayproblems #mondaysbelike #buffer #fridaysbelike ♬ original sound – Buffer
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Taylor Swift song that doesn’t go viral on TikTok, but Bejeweled, a track from her newest album Midnights, is wildly popular. The lyrics, “By the way, I’m going out tonight” lend themselves to so many situations (and that pause between the two phrases is great for transitions, too).
It’s the perfect way to show off a transformation, like how @carodeery showed off her bridal shower and wedding in one fell swoop.
@carodeery #weddingday @Taylor Swift ♬ bejeweled transition – theo (taylor’s version)
This soothing song by Tollan Kim has made daily appearances on my For You page and I’m still not tired of it. It’s another super-versatile track, great for everything from showing off weekend highlight vlogs to your latest product offering.
@hotelsdotcom Ever heard of an Eco-Concierge? There's one on staff at #ElSilencioLodge to help you plan wellness excursions that bring in the healing power of the rainforest. Link in bio. 📸 @Get Lost More 🛩️ ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
10. I’m too small to be here on my own
This clip of what seems to be a musical production of Pixar’s Finding Nemo really tugs at the heartstrings. “Where’s my dad?” the puppet-wielding young actor sings, “I’m all alone. I’m too small to be here on my own.”
Use this audio for situations where you feel out of your depth. Some hyper-specific examples: when you join an important Zoom meeting before your boss does, or when your car starts making weird noises.
@paytondee “Dad i need help” #CapCut ♬ original sound – Payton
11. What Was I Made For?
Anything touched by the Barbie movie seems to have turned to gold, but I’m willing to bet that this melancholy song by Billie Eilish would have made an appearance on TikTok trending lists whether it had been in the movie or not.
The clip is widely used to showcase bittersweet moments or the simple pleasure of life, like this clip of @margheritavargiu feeding some birds and squirrels in the park.
@margheritavargiu And NOW all around the world 🙋🏻♀️🍎 Let’s see if it gets VIRAL for the 3rd time! #biancaneve #snowwhite #disneyliveaction #disneyprincess #fypシ ♬ What Was I Made For? [From The Motion Picture "Barbie"] – Billie Eilish
If you’re new to the joys of TikTok audio, or just TikTok in general, we have a few handy resources that will help get you started. Here’s our Ultimate TikTok Marketing Guide and How to Use TikTok for Business: A Beginners Guide. Happy editing!