Lesley Gore with cat in a tree and clouds in the background

Stephane Bidouze/Shutterstock Bruno of Hollywood/Wikipedia Kay Cee Lens and Footages/Shutterstock (Licensed)

How a 60-year-old jazz standard became a TikTok hit

The popular sound on TikTok starts with a woman singing: 'Look at me/I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree.'

 

Audra Schroeder

IRL

Posted on Jan 25, 2024   Updated on Feb 13, 2024, 8:56 am CST

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

Look at me.”

This is one of the central principles of the internet. It’s also the opening line of a 60-year-old song that’s going viral on TikTok

The sound

The popular sound on TikTok starts with a woman singing: “Look at me/I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree.”

It started getting popular in fall 2023, and one of the trends that emerged follows a “me without” and “me with” format, meant to signal affection for partners or friends. This, of course, led to a trend of people wondering when their besties would post about them.

Another trend uses a 2020 tweet that reads, “Personally, I think I’m very pretty” to reveal what they look like. Others used the “Look at me” line to illustrate accomplishments.

Lance Bass and Eva Longoria both got in on the trend with some throwback photos

Where’s it from?

The song is “Misty,” a jazz standard penned as an instrumental by Erroll Garner in 1954, with lyrics added by Johnny Burke.

The song is featured on Johnny Mathis’s 1959 album, and several other singers covered the standard, such as Etta James and Sarah Vaughan.

In 1963, singer Lesley Gore featured “Misty” on her debut album, I’ll Cry If I Want To, which also features the hit “It’s My Party.” When she hosted SNL in May 2016, actress Brie Larson performed Nicki Minaj songs as Gore, which later went viral on TikTok.

In the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie Play Misty For MeJessica Walter plays a woman obsessed with a radio DJ (Eastwood). She repeatedly calls in to request “Misty.”

“Misty” has been used in more than 2 million TikToks. In early January, it hit the TikTok Billboard Top 50, and has also occupied the top 5 of TikTok’s Viral 50 for weeks. According to Billboard, “Misty” is the oldest song to ever appear on the TikTok chart

Sound off 

Gore passed away in 2015, and was working on a memoir. But even before “Misty” landed on TikTok, younger users discovered and embraced her feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” as well as the fact that Gore was a lesbian. Her longtime partner, activist Lois Sasson, passed away in 2021.

And yes, there are Lesley Gore fan edits

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*First Published: Jan 25, 2024, 6:00 am CST