TikTok catapulted a song from the Nickelodeon cartoon ‘The Backyardigans’ to the top of a Spotify chart

The backyardigans opening theme
‘The Backyardigans’ aired on Nickelodeon from 2004 to 2013. The Backyardigans – Official/YouTube
  • “Castaways,” a song from the children’s cartoon “The Backyardigans,” went viral on TikTok.
  • The song, written in a bossa nova style, has sparked memes and gained massive popularity.
  • It debuted last week on Spotify’s Viral 50 United States and Global charts.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An early contender for the song of the summer has arrived: “Castaways,” a track from the Nickelodeon kids’ cartoon “The Backyardigans.”

In the now-viral song, characters from the music-focused cartoon series sing lyrics like, “Castaways / we are castaways / ahoy there, ahoy / we are castaways,” in dulcet tones over a soothing bossa nova beat.

Propelled by a TikTok obsession and voracious streaming, the song, which was originally released in 2005, shot up to the top of Spotify’s Viral 50 chart over the weekend. In the process, it outpaced other viral tracks, including Nicki Minaj’s “Itty Bitty Piggy” from her latest mixtape “Beam Me Up Scotty” and Doja Cat and SZA’s “Kiss Me More,” which currently sits at number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.

“Castaways” is from the first season of “The Backyardigans,” the children’s series created by Janice Burgess, which follows Uniqua, Tyrone, Pablo, Austin, and Tasha on imaginary adventures in their backyard.

‘Castaways’ exploded in popularity over the past week on TikTok

“Castaways” has become a mainstay on TikTok over the past week, racking up over 100,000 videos associated with an official upload of the sound and millions of views in the process. It’s sparked parodies and remixes, in addition to driving a large enough audience to stream the song Spotify to get it onto one of the music streaming platform’s charts.

@carlycantyousee Imagine checking how your album is doing on Spotify and seeing that???????? ##ROMWEGetGraphic ##PonderWithZion ##fyp ##castaways

♬ Castaways – The Backyardigans

The song became popular within the mainstream TikTok community over the course of the past week, but it had circulated on the app long before that. TikTok user @swagsurfff, who regularly champions the “Backyardigans” musical canon on TikTok, appears to have been one of the earliest to post a viral video about “Castaways.” The video was posted on April 7 and has received over 214,000 likes.

Ten days later, TikTok user @supertay9k posted a live remix of “Castaways,” tagging @swagsurfff in the caption of the video, which has over 119,000 likes to date. @supertay9k’s remix has now become a popular sound in its own right, with TikTokers using it in recent videos.

It’s unclear why “Castaways” blew up this past week in particular, though a viral video using the song posted by @saintkaisir on May 8 could be a contributing factor. But what started as a few videos has grown into an unstoppable wave of “Castaways” content on the short-form video app.

@rihannas4head LMFAO NO DID yaLL KNOW THIS!?? I KNEW TYRONE WAS A BLACK MAN BUT NOT THEEE BLACK MAN ##backyardigans ##victorious ##tyrone ##fyp

♬ Castaways – The Backyardigans

The song’s newfound popularity follows other TikTok hits

On Thursday, “Castaways” debuted at number one on the United States Spotify Viral 50 chart, and on Saturday, it debuted at number one on the global Viral 50 chart.

It’s not exactly clear how the viral charts are determined, but they appear to take both streaming and social engagement into account. Spotify did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on how the Viral 50 charts are calculated.

-chart data (@chartdata) May 13, 2021

At any given point, the Viral 50 chart provides a snapshot of songs popular on TikTok and online in general. Other current entries on the United States Viral 50 chart, like K-pop girl group Weeekly’s latest single “After School” or iamdoechii’s “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” were also hugely popular on TikTok.

Of course, even the Billboard Charts reflect the music made famous by TikTok, indicating how trends on the app drive broader pop culture.

“Castaways” is only the latest example of this phenomenon, even if it’s not cracking the Billboard Hot 100.