'Old Town Road,' e-girls, and other TikTok memes topped Google's 'Year in Search'

ReutersA 3-D printed figures are seen in front of displayed Tik Tok logo in this picture illustration

2019 was TikTok’s first full calendar year in the US, and it wasted no time becoming a key part of internet culture.

Google’s annual “Year in Search” reports give a quick glimpse into what celebrities, trends, and events dominated the year. Last year’s top searches encapsulated the year with the World Cup, Megan Markle, and “Black Panther” all placing in the top 10. This year, TikTok stars and trends on the app are inescapable in Google’s report, showing that the app has life beyond a Gen Z niche.

TikTok debuted in the US in August 2018, after Chinese parent company ByteDance acquired lip-syncing video app Musical.ly and combined them. Since then, TikTok has been downloaded 1.5 billion times, making it the top free non-gaming app in the US. It’s also closing on competitors Instagram and Snapchat, according to analytics firm SensorTower, which told Business Insider that Instagram has nearly 2.4 billion downloads, and Snapchat has almost 1.4 billion.

Here are some ways TikTok made it onto Google’s Year in Search.


‘Old Town Road’ was the most-searched song of the year

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images, Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for StagecoachLil Nas X.

Singer Lil Nas X made the leap from TikTok fame to mainstream fame after his song “Old Town Road” went viral on the app, then broke the record for longest-running No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. He was the fourth-most-searched singer, and the song was the top song in search for the year.

He’s since been nominated for six Grammys.


E-girls and e-boys, the anti-influencers of TikTok, topped fashion and outfit searches.

TikTok

E-boys and e-girls are a TikTok subculture often compared to scene culture, and they’re recognisable enough that they have come to rival the canonical Instagram influencer.

E-girls can usually be found wearing heavy eyeliner, dyed hair, and often a septum piercing, while e-boys typically wear beanies and belt chains. The two looks, associated with popular TikTokers, have become ubiquitous enough that there are now meta videos about them on TikTok, like of a mythical “e-girl factory” that makes these social media stars.


James Charles is famous as a beauty influencer and YouTuber, but 2019 was his year on TikTok. He was the third-most-searched person on Google this year.

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

TikTok included Charles on its “top 100” year-end report of breakout creators at No. 3. On TikTok, he participates in some viral challenges on the app.


VSCO girl style, popularised on YouTube and TikTok, also made the outfit and fashion lists.

VSCO is a photo-editing app in its own right, but a caricature of its users was TikTok’s No. 2 meme of the year. VSCO girls, and their mocking imitators, are easy to identify by their scrunchies, HydroFlask water bottles, and puka shell necklaces. And they’re all over TikTok.

One of the most-searched questions this year: “What is a VSCO girl.”


Lizzo, the No. 7 most-searched musician, has been called the ‘queen of TikTok.’ She found mainstream fame this year, but TikTok was full of viral trends set to her songs.

Apple

Lizzo’s song “Truth Hurts” starts out with the line, “I just took a DNA test, turns out …” The song topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks, and TikTok listed “#DNAtest” as a top meme in its TikTok top 100. Creators upload videos with audio from Lizzo’s song, and then after that line switch in audio about their identity, or a joke about themselves.

The song also made the list of Google search trends, and Paper Magazine has called Lizzo the “queen of TikTok.”


An Area 51 raid was one of the top news searches in four different categories. Strangely enough, Area 51 has become a meme with close ties to TikTok.

A Facebook event invited people to “Storm Area 51″ in September, and the jokes migrated to TikTok. “#Area51” was another top ten meme, according to TikTok.

Patron Saint of TikTok Lil Nas X soon became involved when someone started a GoFundMe titled “Get Lil Nas X to perform as we storm Area 51.” Though the campaign only raised about $US400 of its $US100,000 goal, the singer did release an animated music video at Area 51.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.