Though Taylor Swift recently released a surprise studio album to much fanfare, people on TikTok are much more interested in the pop queen’s 2008 Shakespeare-inspired single, “Love Story.”
That’s because, ever since a bored college student named EthanIsHung stumbled upon a remix of the song created by 22-year-old Thadeus Labuszewski, it’s been the soundtrack to a viral trend that involves a mock proposal, a rogue skateboard and a lot of hip-thrusting.
Labuszewski — or Disco Lines, as he’s known when he’s DJing — created his fist-pumping “Love Story” remix in April 2019 as part of a semi-sardonic six-minute YouTube tutorial on how to turn a classic T-Swift sound into a “deep house banger.”
Channeling his inner DJ Hanzel, Labuszewski jokes at the beginning of the video that in order to make good house music, you have to look like a “metrosexual douchebag.” (“A lot of my humor’s pretty satirical, but in a good way,” Labuszewski told In The Know. “Some people don’t understand it.”)
Before he even sits down to crank out his masterpiece, he changes into a striped tee and throws on some shades, even though he’s indoors; “It’s not about the type of music you make or how good it sounds,” Labuszewski quips in the video. “It’s literally just looking good.”
With a White Claw in hand, Disco Lines dissects Swift’s song — adding a kickdrum here and a clap there — and in about an hour, he has a fully fledged remix.
“I kind of did the whole thing as a joke,” Labuszewski told In The Know. “In my head, I was like, ‘It would be hilarious if we took a country-pop song and just made it deep house.’ Those two things do not go together.”
Or so Labuszewski thought. What started off as a joke/Ableton tutorial turned into a “really good song,” one that even Labuszewski admits he’d happily bump.
Though Labuszewski was perfectly proud of his “Love Story” remix, it didn’t get much traction when it was initially uploaded. In fact, according to the producer, the song only had about 100,000 streams on SoundCloud prior to its debut on TikTok. (As of writing, Disco Lines’ “Love Story” remix is approaching 2 million streams on SoundCloud alone.)
So what happened?
On July 9, Ethan Hungarter — who Disco Lines says he’s never actually met or talked to — used the remix to create a POV scenario in which he and a friend are trying to impress you, the viewer, with their “dance skills” (AKA a lot of hip-thrusting).
Hungarter’s video eventually caught the attention of TikTok user Pokemonmasterzo, who is seemingly responsible for adding the mid-song panning and overhead clap. His version of the “Love Story” challenge — which he uploaded on July 22 — went viral — and from there, the trend pretty much exploded with more than 5.6 million videos to date.
Though the #LoveStoryChallenge has taken TikTok by storm, Disco Lines is still trying to figure out a way to capitalize on all this newfound fame. Since the remix isn’t approved by Taylor and her team, Labuszewski can’t profit from it, nor can he release it on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
To be sure, Disco Line’s “Love Story” remix isn’t the first song with an unsanctioned sample to go viral on TikTok. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” Surf Mesa’s “ILY (I Love You Baby)” and Imanbek’s “Roses” remix are just some of the popular TikTok hits that subsequently received artists’ blessings and went on to top the charts all across the globe. Lil Nas X’s hit — which samples Nine Inch Nails’ “34 Ghosts IV” — even earned him two Grammy wins.
At the moment, Labuszewski and his team are working with an undisclosed record label to try and get Taylor Swift’s blessing to officially release the remix, or at least to approve a remix of a cover. Until then, the recent college graduate — who works as a software engineer by day — is just happy to keep making music and see where his newfound popularity takes him.
“Honestly, I’m just psyched so many people are bumping [the remix],” Labuszewski said. “It’s a cool song and my name’s getting out there.”
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