TikTok star Jawsh 685 thrilled his song tops US Billboard chart

Joshua Nanai (above).
Joshua Nanai (above).

AUCKLAND • A 17-year-old New Zealander, whose TikTok anthem Savage Love has been viewed more than a billion times, said on Wednesday "it blows my mind" to have now topped the United States Billboard singles chart.

Jawsh 685 - whose real name is Joshua Nanai - saw his viral instrumental remixed by US R&B star Jason Derulo and South Korean supergroup BTS to become an international mega-hit.

"It blows my mind to be US number 1," he said in a social media video post. "A kid from South Auckland y'know showing other kids you can do it, any street you're from, anywhere. You can do it, believe in yourself, you can do it. Trust me."

The young producer's dream run of success began after the tune - Savage Love (Laxed - Siren Beat) - was picked up by TikTok users as the backing track for a hugely popular dance challenge.

The challenge - which saw users showcase their cultural heritage by dressing in traditional outfits and dancing to the song - was also embraced by stars like singer Jennifer Lopez and talk-show host Jimmy Fallon.

As of yesterday, the hashtags #sirenbeat, #sirenbeatchallenge and #laxedsirenbeat have collectively been viewed more than 2.4 billion times on the video-based social media platform.

Nanai was signed by Columbia Records and has now topped the charts in Britain, Germany, New Zealand and Australia, among other countries.

The song initially caused some controversy after Derulo took the original beat, added some lyrics and promoted it as his own.

Following the controversy, Nanai told local radio station Mai FM in June there had been an exchange of messages between the two before the incident, but that it was "unfinished business".

Columbia Records has since said Derulo and Nanai have "put aside their differences and come together".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2020, with the headline 'TikTok star Jawsh 685 thrilled his song tops US Billboard chart'. Print Edition | Subscribe