Tim Boyle—Getty Images
By Cady Lang
November 19, 2019

An unlikely yet catchy melody took the Internet by storm in recent weeks, bolstered by the looping, highly meme-able nature of TikTok, the social media platform that brokers in 15 second clips. The song? The humble Home Depot theme song, which, up until now was only prominently featured in commercials for home improvement, like installing tile or building a patio.

Looping clips of TikTok users goofily dancing or moving to the song have racked up hundreds, thousands, and even millions of views; the hashtag #homedepot on TikTok is 65.8 million views and counting. For Chris Alicea, an 18-year-old incoming student at Valencia Community College, whose video is the top result when you search Home Depot on TikTok, being a part of the crest of Home Depot content happened organically.

In Alicea’s clip, which went viral both on TikTok and when the video was shared to Twitter, he can be seen doing different dances to the song, with every type of move matching perfectly with the music.

Alicea said that the idea for the video happened as a sort of joke in a group chat with friends. They decided that Alicea should make a TikTok since he had shared popular posts on the app before.

“Originally, it [the song] was a really small meme on Instagram,” Alicea tells TIME. “But the home depot theme, low-key, is kind of a bop, and I was like, I’ll just dance to it.”

Alicea’s assertion that the Home Depot theme song is catchy is one that the Internet clearly agrees with; although the TikTok videos that use the music run the gamut of the absurd (people splicing the music with Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” while photoshopping a Home Depot apron on an image of Timberlake) to the literal and absurd (the many, many users who have made videos of themselves grooving to the song in an actual Home Depot).

While it might seem ludicrous that the jingle for a home improvement store has become the go-to song for the youths, much less the catalyst of a viral trend, there are actually many solid reasons why the Home Depot song has become the earworm of the moment. To understand this phenomenon more clearly, TIME asked musicologist and Northeastern professor of music, Andrew Mall, to weigh in the Home Depot takeover on TikTok.

“The first thing that strikes me about the Home Depot song is that it is short and so easy to loop,” Mall tells TIME. “The central riff is only a single measure (4 full beats) and lasts a few second long. If you were to snip that single measure and loop it, the drumbeat would match up evenly and be easy to dance to. Aside from a pick-up note, the riff starts and ends on the same note (D, but one octave apart); it is essentially a descending melodic line from D to G with A serving as an ostinato (both in the bass and the guitar).

Mall said that it’s really comes down to two notes if you’re listening closely.

“The most prominent notes are D and A, which sound together at the end of the riff (high D in the guitar, A in the bass) outlining an open 5th, or what guitarists call a ‘power chord,’ which is neither major nor minor (major and minor chords in the same key have identical 1st and 5th scale divisions — in this case, the D and the A — but different 3rd scale divisions: an F-sharp would indicate a D major chord, while an F-natural would indicate a D minor chord; power chords lack the 3rd),” he said.

Mall noted that the song is the “perfect tempo for dancing, at 120 beats per minute,” making it fast for hip hop, slow for techno and EDM and in the middle for trap music. Mall pointed out, however, that the virality of the theme song shouldn’t just be attributed to the technical aspects of the music, but includes factors like the current cultural landscape and especially, TikTok. Alicea would agree.

“On Instagram and Twitter, you see the same kind of jokes,” Alicea said. “On Tik Tok, it feels new and refreshing. There are songs that have blown up on Spotify because of the app. It has a major influence.”

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

Read More From TIME

EDIT POST