‘Everything Sucks’: vaultboy and the Universality of Human Emotions

TikTok has served as the virtual window of everyone around the world when everything suddenly stopped and was put on hold. Millions of creators thrive on the platform doing their own thing, from the self-serving thirst-traps, iconic movie scenes dubs, to viral dance challenges to pass time and serve as a passport to any form of online fame.

For aspiring singer-songwriter vaultboy, it was the perfect source of release for all the stories and thoughts on his head turned into song. It was this realization that got him to share his first video on the platform in the middle of the pandemic, back in November of 2020.

From the get-go, the Florida-based songwriter’s content on TikTok has always been about music. Particularly, his own original tracks, or reimagined popular songs like the male POV of Olivia Rodrigo’s iconic “Driver’s License” or a much more somber version of Aly and AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song” from the 2000s.

The singer-songwriter ultimately started his career on the Internet and in the middle of the pandemic, no less. For someone who admitted he mostly gravitates more towards sad music, he noted that self-isolation gave him the blunt realization of the importance of human connection and the positivity we get from each other. Through his self-written songs, he achieves this connection with millions of people on the Internet, thinking and going through the same things.

Image courtesy of Fast Friends

His very first video on TikTok shared a snippet of “Easier” to the world, a melancholy track by him which ultimately set the tone for his generally sad and relatable sound. And as much as crazy and wild content blows up on TikTok, it’s more so the videos that touch our hearts and mirror our innermost mind games that truly resonate with audiences. That is, essentially, the secret recipe to vaultboy’s rapid growth and ever-engaged community.

That, and his genuinely catchy beats and unassuming but widely-relatable lyrics.

“I think a lot of what I write—songs about me, my friends, and the things I think about and dream about—I think a lot of [them] are relatable to people because I’m echoing a lot of the things [they] are already thinking. And I try my best, in my writing, to feel like there’s a conversational element because people don’t think in weird metaphors, or in poetic phrases. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I love that. But the way I decided to write is in a really conversational, and upfront way. And I think people resonated with that,” he mused in his best attempt to be objective about his own music trajectory.

Most of the snippets of tracks from the vaultboy factory has graced us with online really do feel as if they’ve been plucked straight from our own heads. As he put it, “People don’t think in metaphors,” and that’s why so much of his content go viral with people who see themselves in his 1-minute short tracks.

Although his videos have already been getting thousands of views when he first started out, it’s really his “writing a song everyday and posting it” challenge that blew up his engagement to a whole other level. From 20K views pre-challenge to an average of 80K per video during the exercise, with the random gems that go viral, erupting to hundred thousands of views. The main goal of the project is to get vaultboy to write an original song everyday for a whole month, following prompts from his followers, or his own threads of inspiration.

He revealed that he never “started early” the night before to get a head start on the challenge. Each published song was written and produced on the same day. While most prompts he received were deeply personal tracks on breakups, depression, or the general feeling of loneliness we all felt, there were also the occasional wild cards that asked him to write a song about a goldfish, why people are sketchy, and other fun things that really pushed his imagination.

He jests about feeling a lot more creative back then while doing the challenge than now whenever he would write songs for himself. Before, he had no time to hesitate before diving into a song and releasing it to the world. But now that he has more freedom, he finds himself struggling a lot more.

“I grew a lot from that challenge. I never would have written a song like ‘Everything Sucks’ if not for that. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, and it pushed me to try new things. There’s probably nothing else that have shifted how I look at my writing process,” he recalled.

He continued, “Now, I still really don’t know how to write a song. I feel like I’ve just done it enough times that I don’t really think that much about it. But that TikTok challenge changed the game.”

Undoubtedly, the biggest song released from the challenge is the first version of “Everything Sucks”, his now debut single. The one-minute clip that came out on Day 12 of the project now has over 1.9M views, with his followers constantly asking for a full version under all the videos he posted afterwards.

In contradiction to the title “Everything Sucks”, the track is actually one of vaultboy’s rare ventures into upbeat territory. The lyrics successfully reflects our shared reality over quarantine, with it being that everything does suck, but we’re all learning to value the little things more. The few times we get to go outside, catching up with our friends, and that sporadic feeling of wanting to exercise (but not really).

“Everything Sucks” is arguably one of the most accurate tracks to encapsulate our inner thoughts during this strange time, and it shows just how much it resonated with people as it went viral all around the world. Since its release in May 2021, it now has been streamed over 14M times just on Spotify alone, topping local trending charts, including the Philippines.

Although vaultboy believes that his songs generally move more towards the sad side of the spectrum, he couldn’t be happier with having “Everything Sucks” as his official debut into the industry. For one thing, it’s a witty balance between pessimism and optimism, wrapped up in a catchy, upbeat melody. But more so because it’s what people wanted and needed to hear at the time. It definitely teases listeners to what they can expect from vaultboy’s arsenal of upcoming original tracks.

He mused about releasing more sad songs in the future to reflect his authentic self, sharing that he’s very fond of records that make him feel nostalgic. More often than not, this nostalgia naturally leads him to explore his own sadness even more. In effect, if Everything Sucks is our pandemic anthem, for vaultboy, it’s Lauv’s “Modern Loneliness” and Valley’s “Homebody”.

But on what people can expect for future releases, he cheekily teased: “People can expect a lot of sad songs, and some upbeat ones too. A lot of feeling like you’re missing out, overthinking.. Stuff like that, you’ll get a lot of.”

As much as “Everything Sucks” perfectly acts as a time capsule to reflect this unique time in our world’s history, we’re also eagerly awaiting how vaultboy’s music will take us deeper into our heads, and farther into the future. With over 40-50 originals up on TikTok and a vault packed with more stories waiting to be told, we’re looking at an exciting journey up ahead with vaultboy as he captures our generation’s soundtrack with songs that make our heart hurt and leap with emotion.

In the meantime while we wait for more music out of the Vault (pun intended), Everything Sucks will be in constant replay—reminding us that no matter how much everything sucks, there’s always a “just kidding” at the end of it.