For the first time since Ronald Reagan was president, classic rock greats Fleetwood Mac are back in the top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Of course, it’s not with a new song, but with a re-entry from the group’s lone No. 1 hit on the chart: “Dreams,” the sublimely melancholy groover sung by Stevie Nicks on the band’s blockbuster-selling 1977 Rumours album. The radio and pop culture perennial found new life in late September with a viral TikTok video posted by user doggface208 (real name: Nathan Apodaca), which has only further permeated pop culture in the weeks since — bringing “Dreams” to massive streaming and sales bumps, and now the No. 21 spot on the Hot 100.
What was it about the video that was able to make “Dreams” a phenomenon again 43 years later? And how much momentum is left in the song’s unlikely latest chart run? Billboard staffers answer these questions and more below.
1. So Fleetwood Mac is back on the Hot 100 at their highest ranking in over 30 years, with a song that first topped the chart over 40 years ago. As far as the most interesting chart stories of 2020 go, about where does this rank for you?
Tatiana Cirisano: It’s fascinating. TikTok has driven catalog hits back to various Billboard charts before — from Mariah Carey’s 2009 single “Obsessed” to Simple Plan’s 2002 debut “I’m Just a Kid” — but never a song this old and a Hot 100 rebound this high.
This chart story reflects so many things about the music industry in 2020: It shows that TikTok’s tried-and-true power to catapult songs to mainstream recognition is only getting stronger; that today’s young music listeners are open-minded and genre-agnostic about their music choices; and that as sound-on social media platforms continue to dominate, there are more opportunities than ever for catalog songs to find new audiences, from TikTok to YouTube reaction videos to Verzuz. The Stevie stan in me also hopes this all means that truly great songs live on forever, and that all you need is a small spark to reignite their roaring flame.
Lyndsey Havens: I’m far more amused by what has happened here than stunned. Of course it’s interesting that a legendary band is encroaching on the Hot 100’s top 20 hits with one of their own that’s decades old, but it also makes perfect sense. The potent combination of TikTok and streaming allows for exactly this kind of unexpected and welcomed virality — and it’s so simplistic a formula that it’s engineered to be repeated time and time again. We’ve seen it countless times already, with Lizzo being the most obvious and well-suited example here of how the powerful pairing of 21st century tools can renew a song’s reach and lifespan. But what adds fuel to this fire in particular is that in a global pandemic and election year, during which tensions are almost unbearably high, “Dreams” — in all its laid-back, comforting glory — is perhaps the only remedy.
Jason Lipshutz: Pretty high! It’s one thing for a classic song to flash back onto the pop culture radar due to a meme or viral moment, but the return of “Dreams” is no longer ephemeral, with the song already back in the top 40 of the Hot 100 and buoying the streaming numbers of the rest of Fleetwood Mac’s catalog. We’ve seen the chart impact that viral TikTok videos can have on new singles, but the “Dreams” revival suggests that we could see decades-old hits make big gains in the coming years — and that’s a fascinating new wrinkle to modern music consumption.
Joe Lynch: I put this at No. 4 on my meticulously plotted list of Top 10 Chart Stories of 2020, if there are absolutely no follow-up questions as to what Nos. 1-3 on that chart are. With streaming and current chart rules, we’re certainly seeing more vintage hits return to the Hot 100 these days than in the aughts, but typically those songs get bumps from an artist’s passing. It’s heart-warming to see a classic act get some shine while they’re still around to bask in the love.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s up there with the surfeit of Hot 100 debuts we’ve seen at No. 1 and the back-to-back posthumous Billboard 200 dominance of Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD, I think. Though really, it’s mostly the story of TikTok, which over the course of two years has turned into a disruptive force on the Hot 100 akin to the debuts of Spotify, YouTube and even MTV. “Dreams” is just the latest chapter in that, showing that TikTok doesn’t just have the power to mint new hits — even of slightly older songs — but also to give second life to established classics, like when Wayne’s World and heavy video rotation combined to make Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” an even bigger Billboard hit in the early ’90s than it had been in the mid-’70s. It’s been a while!
2. Of course, the Mac owe the majority of thanks for the song’s unexpected 2020 surge to social media’s doggface208, and his TikTok video longboarding to it while swigging from a bottle of Ocean Spray. What is it about the clip that led to “Dreams” going supernova again off the 15 seconds used in it?
Tatiana Cirisano: The sheer randomness, wholesome energy, and admirable DGAF vibe make it not just a delightful video but the perfect one to go viral in this bizarre year of our lord 2020. But to really get into it, I think a TikTok clip has a better chance of being replicated when it’s just specific enough that props are necessary — in this case, a skateboard and a jug of Ocean Spray — but easy and general enough that anyone can replicate it or post their own creative take on it. That’s one of the reasons I find TikTok so fascinating, and why the app’s biggest proponents call it “democratic”: High-production, complicated clips seem to have a lower chance of popping off than the ones that are the simplest to create. The final puzzle piece, I think, is that the clip has to spur an emotion — and in this one, the scenic background and general wholesome skateboarder vibe do the trick.
Lyndsey Havens: The 15-second clip proved doggface208 to be an inexplicably calming presence, and to possess a carefree quality that has become unfamiliar to most over the past several months. Plus, once a TikTok clip begins to cross-promote itself on Twitter, Facebook and nearly every other social media and news-sharing platform, it’s game over. The youth may live on TikTok (I swear I am… a relatively young person), but by sharing the video repeatedly in a way that made it accessible to listeners of every age — from those who grew up on the song to those whose parents introduced it to them to those who may believe “Dreams” originated on SoundCloud — doggface208 exposed the song’s cross-generational powers, which in turn allowed consumption to go through the roof.
Jason Lipshutz: During the year 2020, it’s pretty rare to watch someone experience pure bliss for 15 straight seconds, huh? A clip of a guy longboarding on a road — unconcerned with any traffic, because he’s chill — chugging Ocean Spray, singing along to some Fleetwood Mac and grinning nonchalantly is the clip that this cursed year needed. I’m convinced that if any moment of it expressed a sense of unease (or ended with an America’s Funniest Home Videos-esque accident), it wouldn’t have gotten one-tenth of its views.
Joe Lynch: Everyone is stressed and confused these days, so there’s something liberating and inspirational about this guy — he seems to be living his best life with zero f–ks left to give. After all, you don’t skate alongside a highway chugging a family-size Cran-Raspberry juice while vibing to the Mac if you’re worried about what other people think. “Dreams,” in particular, pushes this over the edge: It’s a gentle, comforting throwback sound, and in times of stress, it’s typical for people to retreat into nostalgia. Thanks to doggface208 for showing us the way, and for the pioneering sacrifices of the first 207 doggfaces.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s mostly proof to me that you build viral videos the same way you used to build championship-caliber NBA teams: With three core pieces that complement and balance each other. In the case of doggface208, it’s the unlikely combination of “Dreams,” longboarding and Ocean Spray — providing just enough elevator-pitch novelty that you’re sufficiently intrigued to check it out, while remaining inscrutable enough in its joint appeal that you end up running it back an absurd number of times. You might not expect the trio to work so well together, but like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami last decade, it finds a way.
3. While this is the biggest bump it’s gotten since its original peak, it does seem like every few years someone or something resurrects “Dreams” on the Internet or in general pop culture. Why do you think it’s proven to be such a consistently revivable song?
Tatiana Cirisano: It’s a perfect song, and its beauty is timeless. As Stevie sings in a wistful rasp, heartbroken and clear-eyed, about “the stillness of remembering what you had,” the rich, thrumming guitar melody rises around her like a ghost. It gives me goosebumps every time. I also think there’s endless fascination to be had with Rumours and the near-mythical relationship dynamics of Fleetwood Mac. The song’s backstory is a juicy bit of gossip — and the people love gossip! — but it’s also part of what makes “Dreams” especially cutting and human, with the ability to impact listeners for generations, whether the moment of discovery happens on TikTok or anywhere else.
Lyndsey Havens: Well, you see, it’s a perfect song. Lyrics about craving relational freedom and the resulting loneliness, for better or worse, will forever be universally felt. And the fact that these sentiments were actively being felt by the members of Fleetwood Mac while recording “Dreams” allows the song to cut so deep no matter how many years pass. And, much like doggface208, even despite the turmoil of the time “Dreams” was being made (and of this current time of its resurgence) the production invites listeners into a much-needed zen zone and allows a brief moment of serenity.
Jason Lipshutz: Part of it is happenstance — if doggface208 had been singing along to “Rhiannon,” it still probably would have gone viral — and part of it is just that “Dreams” is a stone-cold classic, sung by an artist in Stevie Nicks that has a 100 percent approval rating in modern music. But I think the biggest reason “Dreams” keeps coming back up is because it’s a hard song to get sick of: unlike, say, “Don’t Stop” or “Little Lies,” its chorus doesn’t hit you over the head so much as draw you in, its pop appeal and vocal performance a bit subtler than the Mac’s other smashes. “Dreams” is supremely catchy and never annoying — a perfect formula for mass embrace, over and over.
Joe Lynch: Unlike a lot of ’70s rock, this one isn’t super reliant on a guitar riff – it’s all about the bass line and the vibe, man. Crunchy electric guitar riffs started disappearing from the radio at the turn of the century, and they’ve been all but banished from top 40 for the last decade; a solid groove, on the other hand, is the bedrock of many a contemporary hip-hop or R&B or dance or pop hit, and few grooves are as effortless and irresistible as “Dreams.”
Andrew Unterberger: Being one of the greatest songs of the rock era helps, of course. But there is something specifically cross-genre and cross-generational about “Dreams” — probably some combination of Nicks’ enduring iconicity, songs about heartbreak and toxic relationships never going out of style, and that anchoring two-note bass groove, somehow equally translatable to all popular music styles. And it still sounds fresh, obviously: If a current TikTok star like Clairo or Claire Rosinkranz — hell, even Doja Cat — released it tomorrow, it wouldn’t stand out for any reason outside of how insanely great it was.
4. If the thirstiest stars of TikTok came to you asking about ideas for a similar ’70s classic to soundtrack their own vibey viral video, which song would you recommend for them?
Tatiana Cirisano: Thirsty stars of TikTok, look no further than Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” another female-fronted, wistful song about heartbreak that was already recently conjured up for the teens by Miley Cyrus.
Lyndsey Havens: Look, I’m sure these conversations are already happening. But there was something so remarkably pure about what Doggface208 tapped into (at least, as far as I know) that replicating this kind of wholesome virality — which is a bit of an oxymoron — seems near impossible. At least for now. Plotting or staging a similar feat is sure to happen, but in terms of resulting in a similar “unprecedented” success story? I’m not so sure.
Jason Lipshutz: Nick Drake’s gentle, gorgeous “Northern Sky” is a song that has proven irresistible to whomever I’ve played it for in my life, and I’ve always hoped that it would circle back into the public consciousness — feels sort of perfect for the final scene in a Hugh Grant romantic dramedy, right? Maybe, hopefully, the TikTok stars of tomorrow will know what to do with such an enduring gem.
Joe Lynch: You’d be hard pressed to dig up a more mesmerizing, laid-back vibe than on Brian Eno’s “Here Come the Warm Jets,” the mostly instrumental title track to his 1974 debut. But if I’m looking at a crystal ball, it’s only a matter of time before a Hall & Oates classic gets a similar TikTok Treatment.
Andrew Unterberger: I’m 100% convinced that the best answer to this is Van Morrison’s “Moondance.” It’s vibey, it’s quirky, it’s got great instrumental fills for maximal TikTok interaction, and it’s at least somewhat timeless. The only drawback is that Van the Man would almost certainly be a great deal more sourpussed about engaging with any such ensuing viral phenomenon than Mick Fleetwood & Co. have been about “Dreams.”
5. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this year’s revival of “Dreams” is that over two weeks after the doggface208 video first made the rounds on social media, the song’s resurgent popularity still seems to be booming. Could you see “Dreams” climbing even higher on the Hot 100 than No. 21, or have we already seen the song’s 2020 peak?
Tatiana Cirisano: Higher! Last week, Mick Fleetwood apparently joined TikTok just to post his own take on the video, which is now part of a TikTok commercial that aired during Sunday’s NBA finals — and both developments give the song the potential to reach even more new ears. Plus, if Fleetwood Mac’s various record label and management teams are like any others in 2020, they’re already busy dreaming up ways to squeeze as much promotion out of the song’s resurgence as possible. The more the band members interact with the TikTok community, the better.
Lyndsey Havens: I do think it will enter the top 20, perhaps climbing to No. 15. It largely depends on how this narrative continues to unfold; I mean, both doggface208 and Mick Fleetwood’s version of the TikTok clip has already been turned into a commercial for the app. If the band continues to feed into the moment, and if the app continues to use this moment to prove TikTok’s power and reach, then we may be looking at a more impressive climb to come. One can only dream.
Jason Lipshutz: Climbing even higher on the Hot 100 is a tall order, but hey, the “Dreams” revival has consistently proven me wrong so far. Top 10 or bust!
Joe Lynch: Nah, this is the peak. It’s a miracle the pop culture attention span has fixated on the video/song even this long. Next up: A man riding an old-timey bicycle sipping a latte while Steely Dan’s “Peg” plays.
Andrew Unterberger: Certainly consider me shocked that this has lasted as long and reached as wide as it already has: I legitimately can’t remember the last virally revived classic that was still growing in scope and audience two weeks into its initial spread. That said, the song has finally started to recede a little on Spotify and Apple Music, showing that “Dreams” might not exactly be due for a return trip to No. 1. But I won’t count out at least one more slight bump on the Hot 100 — especially as some of the four debuts in last week’s top 20 invariably enter a week-two slide, and not much new is out this week to really challenge for such a bow of its own. I’ll predict a jump to No. 14 next week, before America finally begins to wake up from this beautiful “Dreams” resurgence.