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Who knew that the existential temptations and fears of post-adolescent partying could be perfectly embodied in one 10-second meme? TikTok knew.
The ingredients for a viral meme are simple yet specific: a catchy hook that is easy to dance to that is also ripe for high school social commentary. Hence the popularity of “Party, Party, Party” on TikTok.
“Til the Morning,” a 2015 DJ Carisma song featuring Chris Brown and DeJ Loaf, has resurfaced on TikTok. In particular, the beginning of DeJ Loaf’s verse, “Party, party, party/ Pass me a cup, I’ll take a shot to the air like yaddy, yaddy, yeah, yeah, yeah/ He wanna take me home, put me in the bed and feel my body, body, body,” has taken hold on the video-sharing platform.
“Party, Party, Party” is TikTok gold
It’s all there in about 10 seconds: party, drinking, sex. It’s the teenage triumvirate. In fact, the verse is so popular that the song has been rechristened “Party, Party, Party” on Spotify.
Why does the song work so well for TikTok? It’s a perfect fit for every aspect of the viral video cycle.
If you watch compilation videos of the meme, you see mostly young women who look like they are ready for a night out. They are mouthing along with the verse and parroting a few simple dance moves as a means of showing off their “going out” looks before they leave the house.
All told, the dance takes about 10 to 15 seconds and features less than a dozen amateurish dance moves. This is perfect for viral TikTok spread, as they are simple enough but allow for the addition of more sophisticated or sensual dancing should the user feel so inclined.
The lyrics also inspire social commentary for high schoolers and younger college students who are skeptical of the whole party scene.
It’s striking how many takes on the video follow the structure of giving the first line to “freshman girl,” the second line about drinking to “senior boys,” and the third line to “freshman girl,” now a little scared and feeling in over her head. For those unfamiliar with TikTok, all the roles are generally played by the same person. It’s kind of Shakespearian.
After the social commentary stage of TikTok reactions comes an almost absurd stage where creators mock the premise entirely. Here, that looks like taking jabs at both the party-goers and the party doubters.
There are a bunch of these videos. One video features a TikTok creator painting a treehouse with meme-themed humor. Another uses the song to recreate the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The comment here seems to be that they would rather be with their friends in a treehouse or contemplating history than out drinking, dancing, and… whatever might come next.
“Party, Party, Party” TikTok meme as commentary
Whatever the take on the meme—be it earnest excitement, social commentary, or outright mockery—the “Party, Party, Party” TikTok posters are talking about the same thing. For a teenager, parties are more than just parties: They are a rite of passage.
When you start partying, you experience the allure of a forbidden world filled with music, drinking, and, eventually, sex. While there is a draw, there is also fear. Once you leave the comfort of your room, or your treehouse, you can’t go back again. You’ve forever entered a realm of adulthood and all the vulnerable feelings and dangers that come with it.
Some embrace it, even if it is a little scary. Others are skeptical, even though a part of them wishes they were going. And some reject it altogether and make their own party.
Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.