In each edition of web_crawlr we have exclusive original content every day. On Tuesdays our IRL Reporter Tricia Crimmins breaks down the trends on the popular app that will make you cringe in her “Problematic on TikTok” column. If you want to read columns like this before everyone else, subscribe to web_crawlr to get your daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
For those of us not familiar with Tate McRae’s career, the pop-star/new “it girl” came out of nowhere. But McRae’s actually been singing and releasing music for a few years, and has had a pretty illustrious dance career.
Thus, it’s no surprise that her performances of hits “greedy” and “exes” feature a heavy dose of cardio-intensive choreography that some say rivals that ofBritney Spears. McRae’s method of not singing lyrics at the end of lines in order to complete dance steps, however, has drawn ire on TikTok.
Multiple TikTokers have parodied her performances—which do include dropped lyrics—by singing her songs with many omitted lyrics and lengthy dance breaks. The parodies are also hyperbolically autotuned, as McRae’s performances feature an affected vocal sound.
“My girl loves to take a breather,” Daniel Abrahall wrote of the artist in the caption of his TikTok parodying McRae’s “greedy.”
A TikToker who created another parody of McRae’s performance of the same song asks that McRae be given a headset microphone so that she wouldn’t have to worry about holding a microphone while dancing.
McRae seems to have responded to parodies and critiques of her performances in a TikTok she posted last week. She captioned her video “sometimes we sing sometimes we dance,” pointing to how she slightly separates her choreography from her vocals when performing, and mentions in her video’s overlay text that she performed three shows in one day. She also commented on another video saying she wants a headset microphone, which would allow her to not worry about holding a microphone while dancing.
Why it matters
Needless to say, McRae should be performing with a headset microphone—if not just to avoid the criticism she’s receiving.
The intensity of McRae’s choreography in her performances speaks to how much audiences expect from pop performers in the age of TikTok. Viral dances are what TikTok was built on, and it makes sense that McRae’s viral TikTok hits would be accompanied by some sort of dance, as is customary for any pop performance.
But the internet is holding her and other pop stars to an impossible standard: They have to sing—not lip sync—and dance, live, in front of screaming fans. That’s doing multiple already difficult things simultaneously.
Should McRae dial down her choreography? Maybe. But should the internet give her a break? Absolutely.