Declan McKenna bounced around the stage with messy bangs and a collared jumpsuit at the Fonda Theater on Hollywood Boulevard on September 29.

The UK-based high school dropout turned alternative indie pop star has taken his round in the United States to promote his 2020 album “Zeros”, which has sold nationwide – from Los Angeles to New York.

When he was just 15, McKenna’s single “Brazil” debuted in 2015, which won the Glastonbury Award for Emerging Talent and allowed him to drop out of high school with job prospects at age 17. Since then, the singer has released two albums and toured across the UK, Europe and the US, performing at festivals around the world, from Lollapalooza at Coachella.

The English singer-songwriter has 4.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify and gained popularity in the United States when “Brazil” exploded on TikTok in 2022. With its catchy tunes and quirky analogies, “Brazil” critiques the corruption and economic organization of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. In the song’s silly chorus, he describes a man with “six cars and a grizzly” to hyperbolize the nation’s privileged, revealing McKenna’s commitment to social activism in his lyrics that appealed to Gen’s political conscience. -Z. Nowadays, 22.1K videos were created using his sound, with TikTok’s virality sending “Brazil” to UK singles peaks seven years after its debut.

TikTok has undeniably overtaken the music industry, influencing mainstream music charts, according to artists, major labels and streaming services. Alternative rock band The Walters have been revitalized by TikTok, reuniting after their breakup in 2017 due to sudden TikTok fame. In 2021The Walters’ 2014 song ‘I Love You So’ blew up on TikTok – almost 800k videos were made using their mellow indie-pop single, which peaked at #6 on Billboard’s US Hot Rock & Alternative charts and #21 in the US Top 40 on Billboard eight years after its debut. Since their reconciliation, the Walters have signed with Warner Recordsreleased a new EP and embarked on a national tour.

In Billboard‘s of the record deal cover in November 2021, Warner Records CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck said, “Walters’ song ‘I Love You So’ is a perfect, modern example of a great song. which is finally getting the recognition it deserves thanks to discovery platforms like TikTok. The song is memorable from the first listen and timeless in its production, so it’s no surprise that it rose above the crowd. clutter to identify itself as a hit song.


On September 29, I had the chance to see McKenna in concert and witness the TikTok phenomenon in person for the first time. By 8 p.m., there was already a line of cheering fans meandering around the corner from The Fonda. Sidewalks up and down the block are dotted with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Located in the heart of LA, the venue is renowned for its rock and indie concerts, hosting shows from Katy Perry to the Rolling Stones.

Upon arriving, I was shocked to immediately see familiar faces; the other USC students were standing in front of the line and I ran into two other peers waiting for the bathroom inside. There’s an underground quality to McKenna’s stardom, but her fan base is devoted, with listeners beyond her most popular single, “Brazil.”

“I had been waiting to see him live for a few years. You could tell the crowd was too,” said USC junior Julia Carpenter. “The concert was surreal.”

Nashville Freelance Singer Annie DiRusso opened, singing an upbeat song called “Don’t Swerve” about the unrequited love she wrote in her college dorm and another bop called “Dead Dogs” about her deceased pet. After her hour-long set, McKenna took the stage.

Tangible enthusiasm swept through the crowd, and they burst into applause when McKenna took the stage. His stage presence and charisma were fascinating. A spectator Erin Munz threw a bean-printed orange bucket hat on stage, and McKenna playfully wore it for the rest of the song (Munz attested that superfans know McKenna’s vocal love of pulses). McKenna played acoustic guitar for part of her set, and the crowd sang the lyrics in unison for the entirety of “Brazil.”

Young musicians like Declan McKenna have their pulse on the notoriously outspoken Gen Z — and the socially conscious lyricism and indie pop styles of these artists have made their way from TikTok trends to top radio sensations. The fame of the British artist is indicative of the power of TikTok, both for exposing independent artists to the public and for influencing mainstream music.