SAINt JHN isn’t a household name — yet — but on Monday morning, the Guyanese-American rapper, songwriter, and producer’s “Roses (Imanbek Remix)” was #1 on Shazam’s Top 200 U.S. chart. Meanwhile, on iTunes and Spotify, it was in the Top 10, and on Rolling Stone‘s own Top 100 Songs chart, it could be found just above Justin Bieber at #12. The song has already topped charts in the U.K. and been used in over 2.5 million TikTok videos, but its rise has also been helped by a new kind of social media boost: A Snapchat filter that puts hearts and freckles on users’ faces while the song plays.
On YouTube, many fans commented on the remix’s official video to let others know where they first discovered “Roses (Imanbek Remix),” whether it was on TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat. Some specifically pointed out that it was the latter’s filters — visual effects that playfully distort one’s surroundings and have become wildly popular — that inspired them to search for the song. “Thanks Snapchat effect,” one fan wrote on YouTube, while another explained, “This is a filter on Snapchat and it has the song.” “Me trying to find this all I did was go on Snapchat and hold on the screen till it told me the song name,” another wrote.
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Songs are ubiquitous on social media, often playing in the background as the unofficial soundtrack to a user-generated video. However, users typically have to actively select a portion of a song that works well with what they’re doing. In the case of this Snapchat filter, however, the music is instantly incorporated, requiring no thought, effort, or even familiarity with the song. For some, it sent them to search SAINt JHN’s song after they’d posted it.
With already-established artists, the filter tactic might not have much of an impact. But for up-and-comers, it can incite crucial word of mouth — and give Snapchat a chance to compete with the currently red-hot TikTok in the realm of song discovery. A four-year-old song and its 2019 remix are suddenly rising faster than ever — thanks, in part, to digital freckles and hearts.
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