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How the singer Jax scored a record deal thanks to her TikTok parody songs

Her secret to signing with Atlantic Records earlier this year? ‘Stop being too cool for school and relate to people.’

How the singer Jax scored a record deal thanks to her TikTok parody songs
[Photo: Braverijah Gregg]
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Fast Company is doing a series of profiles featuring up-and-coming content creators across social media to get an inside look at the highs and lows of the creator economy.

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There was never another career option for Jax besides singing and songwriting. “To be honest, I’m not very good at anything other than music,” she says. “I eat, sleep, and breathe it. It’s my therapy. It’s the way I communicate with people. It’s the easiest thing for me.”

What wasn’t so easy was finding her big break.

Jax went from a theater kid to being in a series of bands throughout high school to finishing third on season 14 of American Idol when she was 18. However, just a year later Jax revealed that she’d been battling thyroid cancer. Doctors removed her thyroid, but the cancer came back on her lymph nodes—close to her vocal cords.

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“It was one of the scariest and most life-changing things ever to happen to me,” she says.

Eventually she went into remission and was declared cancer-free, but all the bed rest and surgeries inhibited her ability to sing. So she focused more on writing, particularly for other artists. “All of a sudden I realized how cool it was to write from other people’s perspectives,” she says.

When the pandemic hit and studios shut down, Jax, like so many others, turned to TikTok.

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“If you scroll pretty deep into my earlier posts on TikTok, I’m taking myself super seriously,” she says. “I was posting clips of my music videos, just very produced content. I didn’t know how to use the in-camera part of the app. Total boomer energy.”

Jax didn’t gain any traction on the platform until she combined writing from a different perspective than her own and scrubbing the polish off her presentation.

“Those who know me personally know that I’m very goofy and silly and make jokes during really awkward, uncomfortable moments. I’m the Chandler Bing of all my friends,” she says. “When things were flopping on TikTok nonstop, I was like, I’m just going to be myself and do something funny.”

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Jax’s first parody video reimagined Fountains of Wayne’s 2003 hit “Stacy’s Mom” from the perspective of the understandably disturbed mom.

@jaxwritessongs

Stacy’s Mom from Stacy’s Mom’s Perspective ????????????. #fypシ #foryou #viral #fyp #songs

♬ original sound – Jax

“I went to bed with a thousand views, woke up with over a million,” she says. “I wouldn’t classify TikTok as an Instagram or a Facebook or something that you could talk to your friends on. It’s just modern TV. So I think people gravitated toward the idea that it was entertainment.”

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The clip has since been viewed more than 9.5 million times, and Jax’s parody perspectives have helped her account grow to 6.7 million followers.

@jaxwritessongs

Update from Avril Lavigne & Sk8er Boi 18 years later ???????? #fypシ #foryou #viral #xyzbca @leum.cozack

♬ Sk8er Boi JAX – Jax

“In this app, Gen Z especially can sniff out when you’re trying too hard,” Jax says. “Everybody gravitates to organic, unproduced content. I was able to stop being too cool for school and relate to people.”

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It also opened the door to her ultimate dream: being signed to Atlantic Records earlier this year.

For every couple of comedic videos, Jax posts clips of her regular music, including “Like My Father,” a tribute to finding love as solid as her parents’, and “Ring Pop,” a catchy tune she wrote about being broke but in love with her boyfriend. These proved to be just as popular as the parodies.

@jaxwritessongs

I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I signed a record deal with @atlanticrecords. YOU GUYS made this happen ???? #fypシ #foryou #songs

♬ original sound – Jax

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“I was mostly posting parodies and goofy songs. I didn’t really expect industry folks to even bother,” she says. “It was a dream come true for me. I’m still in shock, to be honest.”

Jax is currently working on her debut studio album. While she’s found considerable success online, is she worried about being taken seriously as a recording artist knowing that her big break came via comedy?

“I feel that something wasn’t connecting in the first place, because I was taking myself too seriously,” she says. “I do want people to see me as a songwriter, and that’s really who I am. I’m finally in a place where I’m authentically myself, and I feel like people can pick up on that.”

About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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