Surprise Surprise woman over crockpot(l), Surprise Surprise woman singing(c), Surprise surprise woman over woman drinking from water bottle

@lo_marie87/Tiktok Oban277/Youtube /@tarynallyssa/Tiktok

A beloved British singer has become TikTok’s ‘surprise’ meme

Here’s a look at singer Cilla Black’s journey from British talk show host to TikTok meme. 


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Oct 26, 2023   Updated on Dec 1, 2023, 1:28 pm CST

That One Sound is a weekly column from internet culture reporter Charlotte Colombo that explores the origin of popular sounds heard on TikTok.

You’ve probably seen a lady in red on TikTok singing about a surprise. Here’s a look at singer Cilla Black’s journey from British talk show host to TikTok meme

Who is the Surprise Surprise lady?

Black got her start in music in Liverpool in the early ‘60s at the Cavern Club. Her pals the Beatles also performed here.

She released an unpublished Beatles track, “Love of the Loved” as her debut single in 1963. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote “It’s For You” for Black.

It was released in 1964. She’s also known for the song “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” originally sung by Dionne Warwick.

“Surprise Surprise” appears on Black’s 1985 album, Surprisingly Cilla

Where is the Surprise Surprise sound from?

The popular sound on TikTok features a woman singing “Surprise, surprise.” Many of the videos include a CapCut version of Black

The sound has been circulating on TikTok since at least 2021, but saw an uptick over the last month. “This lady keeps showing up on my for you page and I’m loving it,” a commenter wrote on a TikTok about showing up at work after saying you’re quitting.

It’s been used to signal excitement for the new Britney Spears memoir and highlight everyday problems like running out of toilet paper.

TikTokers also used it for quite a few, uh, bathroom-related videos

It also called out the motivations behind “pizza day” at work, and how early is too early for Christmas decorations. Quite a few people used it in videos with the same caption: “When you tell him you’re bi but you leave out the polar.” 

Where’s the Surprise Surprise meme from?

It’s from the British ITV show Surprise Surprise, which aired from 1984 to 2001 with Black as the host. The clip of Black singing the theme song that ended up on TikTok is reportedly from 1986. Black would often end the show with the song. The series introduced a new theme song in the ‘90s.

Surprise Surprise’s premise involved surprising audience members and guests, often via reunions or meeting their favorite celebrities. It was revived in 2012 with Holly Willoughby as host. 

Is Cilla Black still alive?

Black passed away in 2015, so she hasn’t witnessed her virality like other musicians whose songs got repackaged on TikTok years later.

She is now known as “surprise surprise lady,” but the kinds of videos the song is being used in on TikTok are truly the least surprising part. 

Now you can watch our That One Sound from TikTok column on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel and keep an eye out for new episodes every Wednesday.

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*First Published: Oct 26, 2023, 6:00 am CDT