If you’ve been placed on hold, you’ve heard the music. It’s meant to fill the void of being sent indefinitely to customer service limbo, but during the pandemic a lot more of us are on hold, whether it’s with the unemployment office, or dealing with medical or credit card bills.
On TikTok, the on-hold music opened up a trend. In late October, user critterbiscuit posted a performance piece to the track, 43 minutes into being placed on hold.
After that, others documented their own experiences getting lost in the music.
The instrumental track is formally titled "Opus No. 1," and it was recorded by Tim Carleton in 1989, when he was 16. When his friend Darrick Deel later took a job at Cisco in the '90s designing phones, he asked if he could use the track as hold music, and soon it was in millions of phones.
But the TikTok trend also allows us to see a wider range of on-hold experiences.
It's been parodied before, of course: YouTuber Lenarr Young did a popular video about the hold music over the summer. But one comment shows just how universal this experience is: "Even worse when the song fades out and sounds like someone is going to talk but then it just repeats the song again."
The audio also got a lot of play after the election. It's almost like the on-hold music is a metaphor for America right now.