Why is Everything so Fast? A Quick Look at Gen Z’s Love for Sped-up Music

Why is Everything so Fast? A Quick Look at Gen Z’s Love for Sped-up Music (Getty Images)

Going online and hearing a sped-up version of your favorite song is an everyday phenomenon today, to the point where the original version may not exist to you. 

Like Summer Walker’s 2018 song “Karma” which got the sped-up treatment and an accompanying dance thanks to TikTok in October. However, when we started getting access to music online through YouTube in the mid-2000s before people were monetizing off their daily routines, children doing toy reviews or toy unboxings there were high-pitched Alvin & The Chipmunk videos of them “singing” the popular songs. 

Today the same things are happening but in different ways and on different platforms with music. The songs that are popular today are being cut from three minutes into minute-and-a-half versions. The future continues to be about gaining access to information and entertainment in the quickest possible ways. 

Though social media has provided us with benefits like letting people create careers from the palms of their hands, it has impacted us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. 

According to a 2018 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World, principal engineer at Akamai Technologies, Rich Salz said that from social media and increased screen time, there have been negative effects from advanced technology. 

“We have already seen some negative effects, including more isolation, less ability to focus, more ability to be deceived by bad actors (fake news), and so on. I do not see those lessening. Sadly,” he said.

The popular movies we watch are longer, but the more compelling memorable information has made its way to 6, 15 and 60 seconds of formatting. As we spend more time online it seems like information becomes less digestible, the information we are consuming needs to be put in a smaller package to be absorbed. 

Going down your TikTok “For You” page, Instagram’s Reels or Twitter timeline the fast versions of whatever trending song are behind every video. Songs that have been out for almost 10 years find a new life in today’s sped-up and upbeat music market. 

Drake created an entire album capitalizing on his recent love for the uptempo dance music genre. And Beyoncé made an album with a similar BPM which centered Black queer people at the forefront of her music. Everything in 2022 was getting back to uplifting and upbeat moments that were missed in recent years after the pandemic. 

Justine Skye a once “Tumblr-famous” teen turned singer has seen newfound fame among a generation who was too young to see her or hear her music when she was a 16-year-old running around New York with her best friends. The phenomenon of listening to music at a higher BPM is something I think is due to the rise of the New York drill, east coast Philly and Jersey club, and dance music. 

“Wait so, I made this song in 2014 and y’all just found it,” Skye asked on her TikTok using the sped-up version of her 2014 song “Collide.” “TikTok is a crazy place lmao.”

It seemed like 2018 was the start of music fully embracing shorter spurts of music. Tierra Whack’s debut album “Whack World” is a 15-minute masterpiece of 15 songs that made the way the music industry delivered and how fans listened to music completely different. A year later, Earl Sweatshirt made almost an equally short album after a three-year hiatus. Every year, music is becoming shorter, faster and more remixed.   

Within the last year globally, artists like Ice Spice and Lil Uzi Vert have taken their regional sounds of the Atlantic North East to a new level for everyone to enjoy. The rest of the music industry has taken note and decided to follow suit. Even classic artists that would be deemed “before our time” have turned their classic cookout songs into slowed + reverbed versions of what our parents would have done the electric slide to. 

Recently I realized that Earth, Wind & Fire added “(sped up) and (slowed + reverb)” versions of their 1978 hit “September,” giving the song a new life and exposing a new generation to a band that has had a successful music career for over 50 years. 

The new platforms we are experiencing have innovated so much that we are listening to it in fast forward, so much so that everyone else is following suit. We will all continue to spend more time online and try to enter the new era of the future in double time. 

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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