Many of us wish it were any year other than 2020. Mercifully, for one short day on TikTok, it was 2016. September 1 marked the first unofficial “Musical.ly Day,” which started like most trends on TikTok do: without a clear origin (the best info I got was from someone I interviewed who said that it was started by “this one guy”). In any case, OG Musical.ly stars, who dominated the lip-syncing platform before it was acquired by ByteDance and turned into TikTok in 2018, reunited in a collab posted by Loren Gray on Tuesday. Many others paid homage to the old app by doing their own renditions of popular Musical.ly trends. 

While TikTok is known for everything from lip syncing to dancing to front-facing comedy bits, Musical.ly had a more specific hallmark: Lip-sync videos filmed in slow motion that were then sped up to match the original speed of the song, creating an eerie, robot-like effect that at one point drew 200 millions users to the platform. (There was also that kid who made a Musical.ly in the hospital room next to his dying grandpa.) Many of the initial Musical.ly stars, like Gray, Baby Ariel, and Jacob Sartorius, have remained on TikTok, and came together for Gray’s video, using popular Musical.ly audio “679” by Fetty Wap.

@lorengray

in honor of musically day I got the gang back together ! thank u to everyone for being in this, ily. long live musically ❤️

♬ 679 musically tribute - lorengray

Other Musical.ly songs, which include “Bed Peace” by Jhene Aiko and “Cheerleader” by OMI, were used both by Musical.ly nostalgics and current TikTok stars, including Tatayanna Mitchell, Noah Miller, Mooptopia, and even Claudia Conway.

For some users, it was a much needed throwback. 

“I miss how everyone would get along and have positive vibes,” one Musical.ly-turned-TikTok user told me over Instagram DM. “TikTok is just so toxic and cruel and judgemental about every single little thing you do wrong.”

Case in point: Gray’s video reuniting a handful of old Musical.ly stars prompted those who were left out to feel slighted. 

“Missing so many of us OGs,” Danielle Cohn wrote on TikTokRoom’s post about the collab.

“Yeah I feel kinda left out,” Juwany Roman also commented.

This prompted Loren Gray to defend the video in the comments herself.

“I didn’t mean to upset anyone,” she wrote. “I just texted my friends that I grew up with. Really sorry.” 

With TikTok’s impending sale (to maybe Microsoft and Walmart?), another chapter of the app lies ahead. Four years from now, will TikTok 2020 Sponsored By Walmart be throwing back to the dancing llama and the strawberry dress?