The 20 Best TikToks of 2020

According to someone who watches literally hundreds every week.

by Tom Prior
22 December 2020, 2:06pm

2020: the year TikTok seeped fully into everybody’s mindset; when people consumed the app more regularly than they did tap water. 

With most of us falling down the rabbit hole at the start of lockdown, we’ve all by now been introduced to the TikTok Gen Z juggernauts like Addison Rae and Charli D'Amelio who have built illustrious careers off the back of the app. But it’s pulled in everyone, not just teenagers. Those with a more refined (read: old school) palate will be pleased to hear that Judi Dench and Andrew Lloyd Webber have a presence on the app. As of last week, Sir Paul McCartney made an account, too. 

Household names aside, the real stars of TikTok aren’t particularly famous or well followed. Instead, the MVPs are the people attracting accidental virality, with senses of humour so stupid that we, the braindead folks of 2020, can’t help but form a kinship with them. The ingredients of a good TikTok are subjective, but for me it takes originality, sharp humour and an astute observation of everyday life. Not everyone has these attributes, which makes finding a strong TikTok -- amongst the thousands uploaded every day -- particularly significant. 

It also offers first-hand insights into internet youth culture, social trends and shines a spotlight on young content creators who, on the whole, are funnier and more creative than your typical influencer. Since starting a Sunday TikTok Marathon on my Instagram last year -- a curation of the best content I’ve come across that week -- I tend to binge-scroll through hundreds of videos a day. 

Could I have used my time more productively? Probably. Have I laughed more in a year than the average person does in a lifetime? Absolutely. Here are the 20 that have stuck with me.

Brittany Broski doing Adele dressed as Dolly
We stan Brittany Broski in this house. The TikTok superstar and newfound best friend of drag icon Trixie Mattel, Brittany’s TikTok content is canon. This particular one is a highlight: she dons a Dolly Parton wig to recite Nicki Minaj’s verse from “Monster” in the voice of Adele. I mean, come on! It doesn’t get much better than this. Brittany’s following has skyrocketed (she’s currently a few thousand shy of six million), and she once said using TikTok feels like thousands of people watching her use the toilet. Which should tell you everything you need to know about what she posts. 

The sun clocking out at 4pm
As winter arrived, it seemed even the sun stayed home to save lives. We forget how early the sun sets every winter, but for the love of Vitamin D did it give us the cold shoulder this year. This TikTok highlights the sun’s mindset for the past few months -- but let’s keep things in perspective. Imagine someone in Norway watching this. 

Cade cooking
I may be a gay man in my 20s, but this TikTok made me incredibly broody. Cade and his Grandma set up a cooking show-style video in which they make cookies together, but Cade can’t wait and risks it all to eat the raw ingredients at every given opportunity. I completely lost it when he grabbed the block of butter from the bowl and tried to eat it whole. 

The 911 call
Technically not original TikTok material, but it would be a crime not to include this masterpiece. A 911 operator receives a call about a break-in from a concerned man with a husky voice -- what follows is pure comedy gold. I don’t want to know if it’s real or not but every time I watch this video it makes me wheeze from laughing so hard, and that’s all that matters. 

The ‘Don’t Get It, Never Will’ teenager
A TikTok which really makes you think. Here we have Katie Pearce, who takes us through some things she doesn’t understand about life. By the end of her list, it really does make you question things. Most notable on her list is the number 11: Why is it called 11 and not onety-one? Also, why don't we just print loads of money off then no one would be poor? These are genuine questions we need answers to. 

The ‘Shawty a lil baddy’ escalator girl
Yes, the unknown impact of 5G is potentially terrifying but without smartphones this moment would’ve been lost forever. Pick your battles. 

“Very much kidnap vibes”
This boy is the main character, no doubt about it. Icy Wyatt checks into an Airbnb and discovers a door which leads to, well… just watch the TikTok. I often revisit this one just to hear him say “very much kidnap vibes, very much chamber”, as living in 2020 can feel a lot like this. 

Dobby in a bikini on the beach
A woman writhing around in the sand wearing a Dobby mask with ABBA audio? Sure, why not. Stranger things have happened. Whilst it makes absolutely no sense, it really doesn’t have to. Peak TikTok content feels a lot like a fever dream - sensory overload and little to no context in terms of what’s going on.

If you’re from the UK you know this big tune
This TikTok is specifically for the UK. Pigeons are everywhere here, and this sound is their magnum opus; their chart smash; their ultimate banger. You tend to hear this first thing in the morning for at least an hour -- much like listening to Capital FM. Some would say this pigeon call is more catchy and better produced but I’ll leave that open to debate. 

Crop top motorbike man
If this biker flew past me on the highway, I would need to take a 45-minute nap to process it. Bikers have a history of being dangerous, leather-clad beer guzzling hunks but this biker defies all stereotypes.

Alien visits earth, hates it
In my humble opinion, Jay, aka @flossybaby, was a real breakout star of TikTok this year. The way she says “Ok” just sends me every time and has become her catchphrase. I imagine this alien character came down to Earth after hearing about the pandemic and stumbled upon an anti-mask rally, which is enough to put anyone off our planet. 

Ur so funny, a ha ha ha
Love her, live for her, we can all relate to her. Put this video on loop in the Louvre. It’s the perfect response for when your boss tells a terrible joke, your date asks to split the bill, or when Netflix asks if you’re still watching. 

Chin queen
A wonderful point of difference between TikTok and Instagram is that no one cares about uploading bad angles of themselves on the former. Society has moved past the need for Facetune. Here we have Rachel Spicer, in what I initially thought was a makeup tutorial, flip the script and pump her jowls in time with a classic Jefferson Airplane song. She is the moment. 

Wailing, wet cat
As a disclaimer, I don’t find animals in pain remotely funny. However, when this cat falls off a deck and into shallow water, only to emerge screaming like a human child, exceptions can be made. This is a particularly good TikTok because it gets funnier every time you watch it. 

Lasagne, we fucking
Exclusively saying ‘lazagnia’ and ‘kaka-kala’ like this until further notice. 

The Tatu legends
No I don’t think you understand, I’m OBSESSED. The aerial shot, the engrossed neighbour, the choreography, the song from my childhood that put girls kissing each other in the rain on the map -- all of the above. 

90s kids haunted by 30
The looming arrival of our 30s really does creep up on us like a dog at a disco. Everyday I put on my gay little outfit and do my gay little tasks and then BAM -- I’m confronted by my own impending demise. I’ve heard mixed reviews about turning 30. Some say it’s nothing to be scared of and much like your 20s but with more money and others just start crying and reach for another hit of Retinol. Can’t wait!

The mindfuck that is French
As far as I know this is an original TikTok trend that took the internet by storm throughout 2020. The French language is notoriously tricky to master, and packed with intricate pronunciations. Case in point: Turns out ‘song’ means a plethora of things. Who knew?

Greenscreen wheezing at memes
You really get your value for money and time with TikToks like this one. The green screen filter on the platform allows users to narrate something going on in the background, and my god is there a lot going on. The selection of memes are on the Facebook-Mum-Live-Laugh-Love end of the spectrum, but the narration and laughter throughout really elevates the whole thing. 

Kiera Knightley in the snow
British acting legend Keira Knightley, star of Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, and most recently Sibèl Damar’s TikTok. In this role, Keira takes in the freshly laid snow and all the wonder that it brings. She tastes it, observes the snowflakes on a gazebo and then her Uber pulls up which, true to Keira’s penchant for 20th century storytelling, is a horse drawn carriage and not a Toyota Prius like the rest of us take. Iconic.

Follow Tom on Instagram to ensure you catch the next Sunday TikTok Marathon, then follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok too.