Why a trend about MILFs on TikTok led to 78M+ streams in just 2 months.
The sun is setting and you’re hanging out with your friends, you get some tunes going on your UE boom and someone starts playing Betty (Get Money) by Yung Gravy. You vibe along to the hip hop track with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” sample busting in the background and wonder how does this song work, why am I listening to it and where have I heard it before?
The simple answer: TikTok.
In the two months since release the track has been streamed over 78M times and had over 450,000 videos made with it on TikTok. He even just shocked the world and sent the media into a frenzy by attending the VMA’s with Addison Rae’s mum. This man is playing all of us. So what’s the secret to his song’s viral success?
Just so we’re clear, I’m not going to explain the term MILF for you. You can do that on your own time if you don’t already know (it does have something to do with Mums though FYI).
The Perfect Storm
What has become known as the Yung Gravy Mom Trend started out with zoomers asking their mom what they thought of Yung Gravy. This trend initially had TikTok users get their mum’s involved in, showing some of them having the hots for Yung Gravy. This creative endeavour eventually took TikTok by storm.
TikTok User @juuuuudah asking what his mom thought of Yung Gravy.
Mum’s were keen to get involved because:
- Yung Gravy is a handsome guy. The hair, the retro style and the charisma is evidently a killer combo.
- Sampling Rick Astley’s iconic track, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ - also a retro throwback (which, by the way is currently #78 GLOBAL TOP MUSIC VIDEO on YouTube).
By utilising GenZ to get through to the parent demographic coupled with his retro personal brand and song, Gravy positioned himself as the perfect heart-throb of their era and ultimately his song as the perfect love song to accompany this image. Bing Bam Boom - you have yourself a trend about MILFs.
So you’re Yung Gravy and you’re already doing incredibly well with your song Betty - it’s a hit and its got amazing traction on TikTok. Most of us would call it a day at this point. Hang up the boots and say job well done. Yung Gravy is not like the rest of us. When we call it in, he turns it up.
One way to throw even more fuel on a viral song is to go to the MTV VMA’s with Addison Rae’s mum - Sheri Easterling - as your date. Yung Gravy has given the internet something to talk about by attending the event with one of TikTok’s largest stars’ mum. They even exchanged a few kisses on camera.
Whether this is purely a PR stunt, or the two celebrities share a genuine relationship one another will remain up to sceptics to decide, but at the end of the day it is irrelevant. What’s key is that Yung gravy knows that remaining active in your own trend is key. The more engagement and love you show to the people interacting with your creations, the more engaged your fans will become. The greater chance you will have a trend go viral (or in this case, astronomically viral).
But why does this all work so well???
The Human Connection
What has actually made this so successful?
An interesting take to as to why it took off is by looking at the trend through the lens of our core human needs. Based off of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and infused with Tony Robbin’s 6 core human needs we’re utilising the following 6 core needs as the basis for our analysis.
The core needs we have as humans are as follows:
We propose that this trend has been successful because it was able to engage multiple core human needs to drive the action of creating a video.
Significance is the strongest core human need that is met by participants in the Yung Gravy Mom Trend. In this case significance involves engagement by Yung Gravy himself with the user. With over 12 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, Yung Gravy is a highly successful musician. Indeed, by acknowledging users who create videos using his song Yung Gravy leverages his success as an artist as a method of validation for the user and makes the user who has created the video feel both special and important in that moment. This is much the case for the moms who get involved in the
In the context of this trend connection comes from Yung Gravy’s engagement with both parties involved in the trend. Firstly, the TikTok user creating the videos of them talking to their mom are able to drive a connection with Yung Gravy by having him respond back on their video. By doing this, not only does it make the user feel as though they have a connection with Yung Gravy but in turn it invites other users to become involved as it moves the possibility of connecting with Yung Gravy into the category of a likely by having Yung Gravy react to their own video too. As a result, this action is both one that validates the user who posted the video and sparks the possibility for connection in the viewers.
Furthermore, from the perspective of the mom involved in the trend it provides an opportunity to connect with Yung Gravy who has been seen conversing with many mom’s featured in the videos.
As it is with most trends there is a likelihood of virality of occurring with each video that one posts. This taps into the core human need of growth which in this case is the opportunity to create a viral video and in turn grow one’s following on social media. This in turn spurs the personal growth of the user and their individual and ties back to fundamental belief that existence is essentially either growing or dying. So in order to live a fulfilling life growth must be continuing to be achieved.
Certainty is provided by outlining the basic framework of the trend that creates a piece of content that is replicable. This serves the useful purpose of being easy to replicate but others but also performs a psychological function wherein once the viewer understands the trend whenever they see a similar video they are able to understand what structure the video will follow in turn providing a level of certainty for the viewer. The adhesion to the framework of the trend which in this case involves users asking their Mom’s a specific question over text followed by showing Yung Gravy’s photo is ultimately.
This analysis has hints of satire but the more I wrote, the more I came to think a lot of these elements do ring true especially on the core needs side. I’m one of the founders of SoundSmith, a startup which helps musicians promote their music with creators to create moments just like these. You can check us out here but I had a heap of fun writing this, and if you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you. #gravytrain