How Tom Cardy, TikTok musical star, managed to rank among the hottest 100 – Reuters
Song Sequels’ mastermind performed extremely well in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2021. But besides being hilarious, what makes it so popular?
Tom Cardy and his… artistic mustache caused a stir in the Hottest 100 with two songs at the sharp end of the 2021 countdown.
You all voted “Mixed Posts” at #17, and even higher, “HYCYBH” (short for Have You Checked Your Butthole) at #11.
“My mom hates this song,” said a thrilled triple-j Tom Cardy after “HYCYBH” charted outside the Top 10. “She wouldn’t be in the same room as me while this song was playing.”
It’s an impressive feat for any Australian band and puts Cardy ahead of triple j favorites like The Jungle Giants, Ball Park Music, Lorde, The Rubens and Peking Duk. And historically, he’s hotter than Kanye West (whose best entry is his premiere: ‘Gold Digger’ at #13 in 2005).
“Didn’t you hear? I’m a massive celebrity right now,” he joked on air. “The triple j song parodies just blasted me into the stratosphere.”
Unless you’re a pure social media bachelor, chances are you’ve come across Cardy’s brand of musical comedy before. But if you haven’t, he’s a Sydney-based music producer, songwriter and funny human behind the Song Sequels segment currently on triple j Drive.
Since November 2020, Tom has been entertaining us with his creative sequels to the narratives set in hits by Hilltop Hoods, Tame Impala, Amy Shark, Billie Eilish and many more. But he’s making his Hottest 100 debut with two original tracks, taken from last year’s debut album. Artificial intelligence.
His success in the upper countdown ranks might come as a surprise…until you take a look at the size of his social networks.
He has nearly 15 million likes on TikTok (and counting), and has very healthy numbers across Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Several of his videos have garnered millions of views on YouTube, with his two hottest 100 entries earning over 13 million views combined between them.
The perfect TikTok humor
The strength of Tom Cardy’s comedy is his knack for heightening insightful social observations with cheerful absurdism. “Mixed Messages” is the perfect example, starting with the relatable feeling of awkward attempts to text your crush, but morphing into a silly ode to brutalizing daddy’s genitals.
It’s a recurring trick of his songs, grounding you in an all-too-real situation or trope, then driving the whole thing off a cliff.
Whether he’s ridiculing big breakfasts, passwords, red flags, Santa Claus – you name it – Tom has a knack for nailing topics that seem super relevant and fleshing them out into a hilarious storyline, maybe two minutes.
It’s smart without ever being nerd, and most importantly, Tom knows the power of just landing a big stupid lol when needed.
Let’s go, ‘Have you checked your asshole?‘ is its own kind of simple bone genius. And his 14-second cover of 80s Hall & Oates hitmakers is one of his finest and most succinct works to date.
It’s this particular skill that has made his production work so well in today’s TikTok-ification of media where the algorithm is short, sharp and snappy. It can land laughs in 30-60 seconds, delivering hysterical interludes that break our endless scrolling.
His videos also have the similar look and format that are so popular on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, seamlessly slipping into streams with his direct-to-camera performances and home studio environment. He even subtly ridicules him with his high-level editing and occasional looks that are a little too intense in the lens.
Perhaps most importantly, Cardy’s rising profile was perfectly in sync with people who were in desperate need of a laugh and a pick-me-up during the dark times of the pandemic. Dive into the comments on any of his posts and you’ll find plenty of people thanking Tom for delivering some much needed laughs.
“This past year has been tough for a lot of people, and tough for me, but it’s brought me so much joy that I feel like some people have enjoyed my music,” he told the triple. j during the countdown of the 100 hottest. “So thank you so much to everyone who voted for me…it really took me to a place I never thought I could go!
His COVID comedy highlights include video conferencing ineptitude (“It’s 2021, how the hell haven’t you learned to use Zoom yet, Brett? Djokovic’s recent Australian visa drama surrounding his alleged position anti vax.
As much a musician as even a lord
No matter how silly his content gets, Tom always introduces himself as a musician first. In almost all the clips, he is in his studio and manipulates several instruments. It sounds obvious, but he has a very different vibe to most online comedians – and his editing and production are still on point.
It’s probably no shock to learn that Cardy has played in bands, but he also teaches musical improvisation and composes for podcasts (like dragon friends), and TV shows like SBS The flow and that of Amazon Butterfly Effect.
His musical talents are beyond doubt and, like musical comedy masters Bo Burnham and Flight of the Conchords, he has a gift for mimicry.
The fact that he was able to produce perfect recreations of Song Sequels on a regular basis (and often with only 24 hours to run it) should be proof enough of his talent. But take a look at his reorganization of classic themes to ghost hunters and Beverly Hills Cop for more evidence.
His own tracks genuinely slam and specialize in a variety of 1980s synthpop and electrofunk that Client Liaison (or even the OG Prince) would be proud to call his own.
His Daft Punk-style version of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” is the kind of mash-up that saturates TikTok but it’s a cut above your average creator, who would probably fake it rather than build it and to run it from scratch. It’s more impressive than funny.
There’s a long history of fun songs that performed really well in the Hottest 100, starting in 1993 with Denis Leary leading the countdown, and up to today (semi-)present with the screening by Big Shaq in the 2017 Hottest. 100 (“Man Ain’t Hot”, #51).
This should come as no surprise – in fact, it’s a bit surprising that we do not do see more comedy in the Hottest 100, given triple-j listeners’ legendary love of having a giggle. However, two songs in the Top 20 is impressive. So what gives Tom Cardy the competitive edge?
We’ve explored a few possible explanations: the novel coronavirus ravaging the world forces us to actively seek relief opportunities — comedic or otherwise; the musical good faith exhibited in each of Tom’s self-produced multi-instrumentalist masterpieces; the moustache.
Or maybe it’s simpler than all that.
Maybe it’s just the transcendent and universal wisdom that he elegantly sums up in one sentence: Have you checked your asshole?