Lubalin had every intention of making it big as a singer, but the 30-year-old didn’t think he’d do so on TikTok — where budding artists often flood the social media platform with their music and have a very slim chance of going viral.
The Canadian artist, who released a six-track EP in 2020, struck gold toward the end of the year when he posted a TikTok of himself singing a Facebook exchange he had found on the OldPeopleFacebook subreddit. In the exchange, two unidentified people go back and forth about a house rental before one threatens the other with a call to the attorney general.
To dramatize the conversation, Lubalin plays the role of the two Facebook users, singing in an Auto-Tuned voice against an eerie melody.
“I don’t know what genre it would be,” the artist explained to BuzzFeed News in a recent interview. “I was just trying to find dramatic chords and playing the piano. It’s definitely channeling some drama.”
The result? A TikTok with more than 19 million views and 4 million likes to date — turning Lubalin, who once had just 5,000 followers in December, into a celebrity almost overnight. As of this writing, the artist now has 1.4 million followers.
“It caught me a little off guard,” he told BuzzFeed News of his clip’s virality.
Lubalin, whose TikTok was once dominated by his synth-filled renditions of popular songs, has since tried to capitalize on his newfound fame with another “internet drama” TikTok.
“That whole week was kind of, ‘Can you do it again or was this a fluke?'” he said of the feedback he received on his first video. “And then I did it again.”
In a second clip, Lubalini sings a Facebook conversation in which a woman named Helen calls out another woman for stealing her broccoli casserole recipe. That TikTok has gotten over 20 million views and 5 million likes.
“I thought the pressure would be off if I did it again, but I honestly feel more pressure now for the next one,” Lubalin told BuzzFeed News.
BuzzFeed News later revealed that the Facebook conversation in Lubalin’s second TikTok was, in fact, fabricated by a 37-year-old Texas elementary school teacher. Yet, even the originator of that thread told the media outlet that she has enjoyed all the attention her alter-ego Helen has gotten.
“People were posting it over and over again,” the teacher said of the Facebook thread she created. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, Wow. I thought people had forgotten already about Helen.’ So I think it’s pretty cool and pretty neat.”
In a separate interview with HuffPost, Lubalin admitted that he had only gotten into pop music recently and had been researching how to create viral content on TikTok by looking at other artists’ content.
“I had all of this swirling in my head, and at some point I thought, what if you took something really silly and then spent days carefully crafting something beautiful around it?” he said. “How funny would that be?”
For now, he hopes to continue his “internet drama” series — at least until the next big idea comes up.
“Part of me wants to make as many as I can and just see how far this will go, but I could also see myself getting tired of the format and wanting to do something new,” he told HuffPost. “Hopefully I can find other concepts that people like as much as this one.”
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