Lo-fi Hip Hop and POV Playlists are symptoms of late capitalism

Contradictory, these trends aim to provide comfort for the audience while feeding an original loop of suffering

Lidia Zuin
9 min readJan 1, 2022

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Disclaimer: This is the translation of an article originally published at TAB UOL

In 2020, the Brazilian influencer Mário Júnior grew popular beyond TikTok as he was turned into a national meme. One of the motivators was the fact that he was producing content in a format that is typical to the platform: POV or point of view. This audiovisual format generally appears in the tab “For You” on TikTok, which is a section that offers similar content to what the user has engaged previously, but not necessarily published by profiles they already follow.

For that reason, the POV format has become a new engagement strategy in a social network that promotes the remix of videos, sounds and memes. In order to stand out in an ocean of similar content (that is, a same meme or viral trend being reproduced, only performed by different people), the POV format has generated engagement precisely because it is supposedly more “humane”.

Using soundtracks that, oftentimes, feature lyrics that communicate the message the creator wants to share, POV videos can also be very specific: they may portray embarrassing and trivial moments for teenagers or even the simulation of a relationship, such as in the case of Mário Júnior.

Ultimately, as suggested in this article, POV videos promote empathy between users and, this way, they can address situations or topics that are sensitive to this audience mostly composed of people younger than 34. By the way, this is also the demographic for those who watch the videos and streamings of lo-fi hip hop playlists on YouTube.

YouTube channels such as Chillhop Music, ChilledCow, and Mellowbeat Seeker are some examples of creators that are publishing playlists or livestreaming this music genre. Curated by humans, the streamed songs are characterized by its low fidelity sounds (lo-fi), samples extracted from popular sources, and titles that oftentimes are already a disclaimer of the intention of these radios — examples include the songs “Things will be better by morning” by Jonas Langer or “I have love…

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Lidia Zuin

Brazilian journalist, MA in Semiotics and PhD in Visual Arts. Researcher and essayist. Technical and science fiction writer.