owdy, cowboys and cowgirls! For this one, we’re transporting you to Oklahoma, the home state of America’s favorite country girl, Reba McEntire. This legendary country singer/songwriter’s 2001 hit and theme song to her TV sitcom, “I’m A Survivor”, has made its resurgence on TikTok. Reba is a queen in general and an icon to single mothers everywhere, but this passionate ballad about a single mom who works too hard, who loves her kids (and never stops) relates to all of us in our own ways.
Tiktokkers have jumped on this song to highlight the menial tasks we’re challenged with daily, and how we work selflessly for the good of others. Have you been the only roommate who fills up the Brita? Has your mom not made you dinner so you had to microwave a frozen Trader Joe’s meal? Have you thrown out someone else’s expired milk? When your husband isn't home to help unload groceries, do you have to do it yourself? Then you’re a survivor, baby.
It’s the small tasks that exhaust us––death by a thousand tiny knives!
Tiktokkers ironically play “I’m A Survivor” in the background to show how they survive, and keep going through these everyday struggles.
Even Reba herself hopped on this trend and captioned her video “When it’s time to feed your donkeys and they’re not the least bit impressed #ImASurvivor #Donkeys #FarmLife #Reba #CountryGirl”. You know it's a good TikTok trend when the artist hops on the bandwagon too.
This song currently has 65.9K+ videos using it and is still gaining traction.
So, why is this trending?
Maybe because of the stereotype that younger people don’t work as hard as people did “back in the day.” Hey, we didn't grow up in the 70’s! “Survivor” is the perfect song to use ironically, and the irony is enough for Tiktokkers to understand the assignment.
This trend is also a testament to legacy and catalog songs. Legacy and catalog tracks are songs made by musicians from years ago that are being rediscovered by younger audiences now. There is an ongoing trend of older music being repurposed as audios on TikTok, and it’s resulting in traction and an increase in popularity––even decades after the song has been released.
Another example of a legacy song that has currently resurfaced on TikTok is Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills”. Not only are “Bills” and “Survivor” bops that give us a nostalgic feeling, but they also provide the perfect soundbyte for TikTok. The “Bills, Bills, Bills” trend had a very clear theme, and encouraged creative, versatile ways for TikTokkers to add their hilarious ideas to the overarching trend itself.
Legacy and catalog songs have a way of developing their own TikTok identity and story, and that’s what they become known for on the platform. These classic songs are well-known, and hearing an old jam warrants an excited reaction every time.
TikTok eats up legacy music for a few reasons. Besides being organically popular despite their age, influential creators with lots of followers will use the legacy audios as TikTok sounds. Once the newly created trend has picked up steam, the original creators will jump in and give a nod to the younger cohort engaging with the legacy audio, showing that they understand the trend and approve of the joke––just as we saw with Reba.
TikTok often features these types of legacy audio-turned-viral videos on their main sound page with hopes of turning these legacy artists into content creators.
Even though these songs are older, they still share the same relatable stories that we go through every day, making us connect with them no matter how old we (or the songs) are. If there is one thing Gen Z knows how to do, it's poke fun at serious things, such as Reba’s ballad, “Survivor.” Now every time I take out the trash, you know what song I’m thinking of.
Reba, keep inspiring us, girl.