TikTok Catapults Trevor Daniel to Fame


Trevor Daniel’s song, “Falling,” was released in 2018 but went viral on TikTok this year. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Anyone who has been on TikTok recently has probably heard Trevor Daniel’s song “Falling.” Now streamed nearly 300 million times on Spotify and peaking at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Falling” has become one of the defining songs of the TikTok generation.

However, long before teenagers were dancing to the song on TikTok, hoping to go viral for their fun performances, Trevor Daniel was recording songs in his bedroom, hoping to go viral for his musical talent.

He started releasing music on SoundCloud in 2015, but it wasn’t until he dropped “Pretend” in late 2017 that his efforts were recognized by Taz Taylor, a multi-platinum producer and founder of the production collective Internet Money.

It was during Daniel’s first session with Taylor that he recorded the trap-infused heartbreak track “Falling.” Coming together in a matter of hours, Daniel recalled in an interview with Billboard, “That night was just a crazy energy.”

When the track dropped in Oct. 2018, though, it didn’t receive much attention from those outside the Internet Money fanbase. Even a blackbear remix a few months later failed to send it to virality, although it became the most popular song off Daniel’s debut E.P., “Homesick.”

Without any playlisting on streaming services and little promotion, “Falling” began to rise on the charts over a year after its initial release in late 2019. Unbeknownst to Daniel, his song was going viral on the video-sharing app TikTok.

Ironically, the 25-year-old Houston native did not even have a TikTok account at the time. He has often spoken about his indifference towards social media and his following on these platforms. He simply wanted people to hear his music organically.

While some artists would lose patience with the slow burn of a song like “Falling,” Daniel embraced the time it took for the song to reach stardom as it gave him the opportunity to mature as an artist and watch his fanbase grow.

When “Falling” became number one in the world on the Billboard pop charts in late December, Daniel wrote on Instagram that he was “speechless” and that it was “something he dreamed about.” He believes the song’s delayed success was a blessing.

“I’m glad it took so long, because a year was perfect timing for me to get mentally prepared,” he told Billboard.

This preparation was evident in Daniel’s Jan. 21 show at New York City’s Mercury Lounge, his first time performing since “Falling” blew up on TikTok. One might have expected the 250-seat venue to be filled with young TikTokers, only there to hear their beloved “Falling,” yet by the screams of lyrics to some of Daniel’s deep cuts, it was clear that the young star’s most loyal fans had shown up.

“You guys packed this s— out,” Daniel said in awe at the sold-out venue, a stark contrast to his last New York show that only drew about 40 loyalists.
On stage, he donned the same off-white Converse he had worn at his New York City show last April.

“You guys all signed the shoes,” he said.

Now studded with the signatures of those who were vibing to “Falling” long before it was ingrained into the soundtrack of Gen Z, his shoes are a reminder of both the journey Daniel has been on in the past year and his immeasurable growth as an artist.

Based on his physical appearance alone, it would be easy for Daniel’s inner transformation to go unnoticed. Along with his Sharpie-covered Converse, his signature beanie and black outfit went unchanged from his last New York show. However, his command of the stage told an entirely different story.

A confident frontman, he effortlessly moved across the stage, taking time to belt out high notes, rest on top of speakers and borrow fans’ phones to record videos. Mid-show, he ignited a mosh pit when he jumped into the audience, prompting cries of excitement from fans thankful to have the up-close-and-personal experience.
The live production of Daniel’s music also underwent a transformation. Usually relying on trap drums and digital tools to achieve his R&B/pop sound, Daniel substituted these elements for a live band. The smooth, understated production of Daniel’s lovesick melodies were reimagined into heavy-hitting, Warped Tour-esque rock songs.

Thudding percussion and flashing strobe lights energized the venue during songs like “Wild” and “Never,” in which Daniel rearranged his vocals to fully embrace the punk rock vibe.

Near the end of the show, Daniel was on the verge of tears as he took a step back from his newfound rockstar persona to thank the audience and his band for their support.

“The last few months have been absolutely insane,” he said.

After taking a moment to embrace the outpouring of love, he transitioned into his final song.

“I know you guys know this one,” he said with a smirk.

The crescendo of the simple guitar loop of “Falling” vibrated throughout the venue and transfixed the audience.

After once again jumping into the audience for a mosh pit during the second chorus, fans decided they hadn’t had enough and continued to belt out the lyrics despite the band going completely silent.

YouTuber David Dobrik, a surprise attendee who was at the center of the mosh pit, said in his post-concert TikTok that fans felt like they truly went “inside TikTok” as Daniel sang the viral lyrics. However, Daniel shows promise to be more than just a TikTok hitmaker. Without any promotion of his own, fans gravitated toward “Falling” and gave it an immortal status.

Daniel has said himself that he doesn’t think “Falling” will be his biggest song and has repeatedly praised his upcoming album as being “the best you’ve ever heard.” Capturing global attention with his newfound platform, Daniel is showing the entire world what those 40 fans saw in him a year ago. Before long, TikTok will not be the only place people are “falling” for Trevor Daniel.