North Texas Daily

Elmo: The Unexpected TikTok Star

Elmo: The Unexpected TikTok Star

Elmo: The Unexpected TikTok Star
February 03
12:00 2022

I did not have Elmo as the first TikTok breakout star of the year on my 2022 bingo card, but alas here we are. I can’t count the number of Elmo audios circulating TikTok right now. From Elmo passionately singing, “Elmo chugs along like a train,” with Jason Derulo to Elmo snapping “Elmo’s gonna sue,” on Rove Live, the voice of Elmo is everywhere on social media. 

Elmo is being hailed as the chaotic, sarcastic and snippy icon of 2022. Audios with Elmo have garnered millions of views on TikTok. 

“ElmoTok” began when TikTok user @cj_vogt posted a clip of Elmo and Rosita singing “I Wonder, What if, Let’s Try!” with Hailee Steinfeld with the caption “The way Elmo says “paper towel roll” has me dying…I can’t stop watching.” This short audio clip has now been used in over 111,000 videos on the app. 

Elmo’s presence on TikTok soon spiraled into several Elmo audio’s trending and gaining popularity. A large portion of these audios circulating are from Elmo’s apparent beef with Rocco, Zoe’s pet rock. 

Audios like “Oh, hello Rocco” and “Rocco’s not alive” have been making their rounds around TikTok with #RoccosJustaRock having over 46,000. Elmo’s clear annoyance with Rocco has made him a sarcasm icon for Gen Z. 

Host of his own The Not Too Late Show, Elmo is no stranger to making appearances on late night talk shows. A viral audio clip of Elmo saying “balsamic vinegar, that’s a big word for Elmo” comes from Elmo cooking with Jimmy Fallon, Jason Schwartzman and Questlove. Despite Elmo being for young children, Elmo is able to kill on late-night shows and entertain older audiences. 

Elmo’s rise in popularity can be attributed to TikTok’s unique ability to have the same audio be used over and over, but tell a different joke or story in each video. Because of this, #ElmoTok has over 421 million views.  Thousands of videos have been made just from Elmo saying something funny. 

An obsession with Elmo is not new. “Elmo Rise” or “Hellmo” was a popular meme made in 2012 that made its rounds across Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and more. 

ElmoTok can also thank Gen Z’s obsession with the ‘90s. With crop tops, wide-leg pants and scrunchies making their way back into the mainstream, it only makes sense we’re obsessed with Elmo. 

It might not make much sense, but Elmo making a comeback with teens and young adults is one of the best parts of TikTok. TikTok is not just dancing videos⁠ — it’s dumb funny videos with a three-and-a-half-year-old red monster. We might not be Sesame Street’s target demographic anymore, but we can all enjoy his chaotic energy. 

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson

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