Breaking down a meme can feel like peeling back layer upon layer of references, or like staring right at corporate bullshit. And sometimes, if we’re in hell, it’s both.
Such is the case with the awful but catchy viral TikTok audio clip: “Harder, Better, Faster, Whopper.” The song, which combines Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” with sound bites from Burger King ads, has become an absolute force on the app. Since it was published on Jan. 22, it’s been used in over 74,000 posts. It’s a bona fide earworm that somehow incorporates every part of the internet, from the Undertale fandom to a 2007 viral YouTube hand-dancing video.
What is Harder, Better, Faster, Whopper?
The “Harder, Better, Faster, Whopper” mashup is relatively simple: It just takes an audio clip from a recent Burger King ad and replaces the chorus of Daft Punk’s song with names of burgers. The lyrics go, “Whopper, Whopper, Whopper, Whopper, Junior, Double, Triple Whopper, flame-grilled taste with perfect toppers, I rule, I rule, I rule this day.” The bisyllabic rhythm of “Whopper” folds into the beat of the original song perfectly.
Unlike other recent viral hits, the mashup doesn’t tease a Burger King Super Bowl ad. It was created by an 18-year-old who goes by the name DiamondBrickZ online. He told Polygon over Twitter that he got the idea from his government teacher, who pulled up a video for class and made fun of a Burger King ad when it played before the video.
“I’ll be honest, at any time of day, I’ll have five or six songs just bouncing around in my head, so while listening, I heard that the commercial had nearly the same rhythm as Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,’ so the two just clicked together mentally.” The following weekend, he spent a few hours working on it, and boom, the mashup was born.
Why is ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Whopper’ popular on TikTok?
We can’t really predict when a post will go viral. TikTok’s algorithm largely focuses on how users interact with a video and other details like language and location, though more recent reporting also shows employees can “heat” anything into a viral post. However it happened, we’re not surprised the audio clip took off, thanks to the way it pulled together various pockets of internet culture.
The Daft Punk track was already a pop culture fixture, even before this TikTok remix. It was released in 2001, and then became part of a meme in the YouTube video “Daft Hands - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” In 2007, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) sampled the Daft Punk track for his song “Stronger.” Given the song’s storied history, absurdly remixing it with a mainstream brand like Burger King sounds like the makings of a hit.
Dance: @erdoesgaming_ #whopper #burgerking #shuffledance #shuffle♬ Harder Better Faster Whopper - DiamondBrickZ
The audio clip is being used for a wide assortment of popular posts. There’s not a consistent trend. Fans are dancing to it (1.9 million views), making fake ads (3.9 million views), making edits of the YouTuber Markiplier (1.2 million views), and my personal favorite, an editing an animation of the Pokémon Wooper dancing to it.
What is the deal with mashups on TikTok?
Online mashups have become a language of their own, where users can add layer upon layer of references and shitposts to the some of history’s catchiest tunes. TikTok, which largely derives trends from audio clips and songs, has spawned these communities of people who remix, revamp, and make absolutely cursed versions of popular music.
DiamondBrickZ got his start in mashups from listening to music on platforms like SoundCloud. He told Polygon the website gave him access to an “absolute treasure trove of legitimately great mashups and equally hilarious shitposts.” Additionally, being a fan of Undertale further buoyed his interesest in the special remixes.
“I was a massive Undertale fan at its peak, inhaling as much content as I could since I saw (I think) Jacksepticeye’s playthroughs of them. I think my start to making mashups was partially thanks to Undertale and its fandom. Mixes like BotanicSage’s ‘Waters of Megalovania’ and especially a lot of rips on Silvagunner were what really introduced me to the remix culture of the internet, and are what inspired me to pick up a DAW.”
There is no official offer from Burger King to use the audio (yet). A TikTok published on Thursday from the burger brand’s official account cracked a joke about asking legal for the rights to the song and said, “we hear you. we see you. we’re trying. (we also can’t stop listening).”
Until then, DiamondBrickZ is just reveling in the hundreds of thousands of notifications pouring in.
“I think one of the biggest surprises was it blowing up like this in the first place. I did experience something like this before on my YouTube and TikTok channels, but this surge was even, well, harder, better, faster, and stronger.”