The fun thing about TikTok music discovery is that even when it feels like you’re hearing something new, you can guarantee that about a million other people have already heard it. Humbling. These songs have massive streaming numbers, especially YouTube views, but they don’t typically make their way onto the Billboard charts organically (see: Tekashi 6ix9ine’s recent lesson on the math behind it). But 2016’s “Roses” by Saint Jhn is an outlier. The 2019 DJ Imanbek remix of the R&B song has the streaming numbers, with over 100 million views on YouTube; it has several TikTok trends amassing over 3 million videos; and on June 15, it hit no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Roses” was released by Brooklyn rapper and songwriter Saint Jhn in 2016. But the remix that’s gone viral on TikTok just came out in 2019. Nineteen-year-old Kazakh producer Imanbek took Saint Jhn’s slow-moving, hypnotic rap and turned it into a bouncy, high-pitched banger. Lyrics “I walked in the corner with the body screaming dolo / Never sold a bag but look like Pablo in a photo / This gon’ make ‘em feel the way like Tony killed Manolo / You already know though, you already know though” become basically indecipherable. And that’s why it works on TikTok. With no real language barrier, people all over the world can not only vibe to the song but also reinterpret it, remix it, and create something new.
The “Roses” remix is the soundtrack to a few mainstream TikTok trends, but also works for … pretty much anything you can think of. Recently, it helped popularize the now-infamous TikTok hip sway. The beat change has also been used as a dance/scenario going from something positive to something awkward, as denoted by the “I’m shy” fingers, peace signs, middle fingers, and/or a hand hiding your face. That trend coincides with the hugely popular (well, what isn’t on TikTok?) Character Select Challenge and the Shy Boy trend, where you similarly kind of … rotate like a video-game character. Look, it makes sense when most of your generation’s reference points are visual. But if you’re just trying to make a TikTok skateboarding, or to spread info, or emphasize something, the almost-instrumental “Roses” remix works for that, too.
Though the Imanbek remix accounts for a huge amount of the song’s success, the original “Roses” is no slouch. The music video has nearly 36 million views. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s yet another “Roses” remix, one featuring Future that dropped on May 29. Combining the remixes and the original’s success, “Roses” has hit No. 1 on several international charts this year, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 in March, right when stars like Charli D’Amelio and Jason Derulo started using it in TikToks. On June 8, it reached No. 10 on the Hot 100, jumping four spots on its 11th week, and landing Saint Jhn his first top ten. Now at no. 7, “Roses” is looking at a run for the top five, adding it to a list of TikTok breakout hits, including fellow remix-rule scammer “Old Town Road.” The song’s journey from Saint Jhn, across the world to Imanbek, and then everywhere on TikTok is kind of just a miracle of the internet. People (especially teens) know good music when they hear it.
This post was updated with the latest chart data for “Roses.”