If you use TikTok with any regularity, chances are this has been stuck in your head for the last two weeks:
Bitch, I look like I’m fresh off the runway (uh)
Bitch, I go crazy the dumb way (uh)
Bitches wanna be me, one day
It’s the kind of catchy song that bounces around your brain when you’re getting ready to go out, wearing something tight with a fresh face of makeup. Maybe you stick your tongue out on the “uhs.”
The song is “Runway” by Stunna Girl, and if you haven’t heard of her, you may soon.
“Runway” is the latest song made viral by the video-sharing app TikTok, much like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.”
Stunna Girl, whose real name is Suzanne, is a 21-year-old rapper from Sacramento. She has a few music videos on YouTube (including a diss track with anti-gay slurs), but otherwise doesn’t yet have a foothold in mainstream music. Her online branding is mostly limited to her Instagram account, where she has 139,000 followers.
This year, she released “Runway,” and unbeknownst to her, it blew up on TikTok. More than 3 million videos have been made of people strutting their stuff to short clips of the song in what’s become the #RunwayChallenge.
While the audio has been used for all kinds of videos, the makeover or transformation theme has been the most popular.
Added up, the clips have been heard tens of millions of times on the app.
And that popularity has translated to success on other platforms. An unofficial video on YouTube has racked up 4.4 million views, and the song peaked at No. 8 on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart, which tracks social shares as opposed to just streams.
“I really wasn’t really familiar with what TikTok was,” Stunna Girl told BuzzFeed News. “My younger sister in North Carolina informed my mom that I was going viral on there but I wasn’t sure what she was talking about.”
It wasn’t until a fan on Instagram started sending the videos that Stunna Girl figured out what was going on. Now she’s sharing her favorites on her Instagram page, like this one from beauty influencer Nikita Dragun.
“I love people like that and it was crazy that she was slapping my song,” Stunna Girl told Genius in an interview about “Runway.”
Now those viral hits have clinched a record deal for Stunna Girl. Last week, she signed a deal with Capitol Music Group — a big win for a young woman who spent her teens in and out of the prison system and got to where she is without a label or management.
She said the TikTok trend “definitely” contributed to the deal because it got more people listening to her work.
And, like what happened with Lil Nas X, that’s what sets TikTok apart from other video-sharing apps, like the now-dead Vine. A piece of audio can go viral, organically, with no formal promotion, reaching audiences it wouldn’t otherwise. That’s how you get a bunch of teens from all over the US lip-synching a song from a little-known artist from Sacramento.
“It did help bring light to the other sides of my music,” Stunna Girl said. “I feel like it’s just the beginning, just a stepping stone.”
The name of Capitol Music Group was misstated in an earlier version of this post.