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Popular global TikToks of 2022: Bad Bunny leads the fluffle!

Editor's note: "Fluffle" is a term used in Canada to describe a group of rabbits. It is an adorable word, is it not? So we figured: Let's give it wider exposure in our headline!

Three TikTok phenomena of 2022: the pop star Bad Bunny; an Inuit mother and daughter who teach how to say yes with your eyebrows; and one of the Iranians who cut their hair in solidarity with 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after being detained by Iran's morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab inappropriately.
/ tiktok.com/Screenshots by NPR
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tiktok.com/Screenshots by NPR
Three TikTok phenomena of 2022: the pop star Bad Bunny; an Inuit mother and daughter who teach how to say yes with your eyebrows; and one of the Iranians who cut their hair in solidarity with 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after being detained by Iran's morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab inappropriately.

The TikTok superduper celebrity of the year was Puerto Rican pop star Bad Bunny. El Conejo Malo took the platform by storm when he started his account earlier this year.

But he's far from the only global TikTok star on Gen Z's social media platform of choice. There were huge audiences for international TikToks – everything from ASMR videos of Tunisian cuisine to a doctor/singer who in one TikTok performs a song in 10 different languages, clocking in at under a minute.

Referring to TikTok's round up of their most popular content in 2022, Vanessa Pappas, chief operating officer for the platform, said, "We're honored to celebrate our global community who shaped this year's trends, shared new ideas, learned from one another and turned their passions into careers and livelihoods throughout 2022."

So yeah, it's a lot more than dancing or weird and trendy memes like "me as a baby."

We at Goats and Soda wanted to share some of our favorites – TikToks that inspired us, informed us and just plain made us laugh from all corners of the world. We chose a few creators from the official list and added some of our personal favorites. We have noted when the TikToks referenced or shown below contain expletives.

Lav_sings: doctor, dancer, singer

You don't get 9.5 million "likes" for nothin'.

Lavannya is a doctor. And a dancer. And a singer with a big and booming voice. That's why her TikTok sobriquet is lav_sings. When she belts out a verse with all her heart and might, her sister and dad, who make a cameo in this TikTok, look absolutely gobsmacked. Adding to her impressive musical chops, Lavannya often performs in several languages – from Hindi and Tamil to French and English. Just check out another TikTok where she covers 10 different languages in less than 60 seconds.

Masood Boomgaard: Comedian and self-proclaimed "Self Help Singh"

Masood Boomgaard has been giving us all the advice we've needed to hear in 2022. The Indian comedian, who's based in South Africa, offers up comic riffs in the style of an Indian spiritual guide, Masood gives blunt and often expletive-laden wisdom about how to take care of yourself – like this TikTok on dealing with failure, which is not the only "f" word in his commentary. Not that we're prudes or anything, but the TikTok we've embedded is G-rated!

Charity Ekezie: Nigerian creator poking fun about the West's ignorance of Africa

So someone really truly asked Nigerian TikToker (and journalist) Charity Amaka Ekezie if Africans have combs. In response, she wove an imaginative and hilarious response about going to the forest and finding a porcupine whose quills can be used on her coif. Charity makes satiric TikToks responding to ignorant comments like these all the time. At the end, she looks into the camera and gives an exasperated, "yeah!"

Baraa Bolat: Preparing Tunisian dishes that cook up some ASMR tingles

Glass bowls ring out as a package of walnuts tumbles into them. A knife delicately slices through a ripe watermelon. This is how Baraa Bolat, a Tunisian creator based in Austria, strives to trigger an autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR as most people know it – that tingling euphoric sensation you sometimes get down the back of your neck and spine. Bolat records her exploits in food prep while striking her signature pose – head bent at an angle over the food she's preparing. While Bolat isn't the first to do ASMR cooking videos, she is one of the most popular on TikTok. And if the sounds of her themselves don't give you ASMR, her food masterpieces – like chocolate-covered peanut butter and nut-stuffed medjool dates – will surely make you drool.

Shina Novalinga: an Inuit influencer from Canada who lets her eyebrows do the talking

A celeb from last year's Goats and Soda list makes her triumphant return in our 2022 TikTok round up. Inuit creator Shina Novalinga throat sings, eats traditional foods and shows what life is like for the modern Inuit people – often while sharing the stage with her mom. Last year, Novalinga gained a lot of attention for describing the facial tattoos she got as she embraced her Inuit identity. And it's not hard to see why Novalinga — and her mom — are still so popular in 2022. Just look at how wholesome they are in this TikTok where they show how Inuits raise eyebrows to say "yes" and scrunch their face up to say "no."

Bad Bunny: Billboard's Number 1 artist of 2022 takes on TikTok

"Tú no ere' bebecita. Tú ere' bebesota." Those lyrics must have found their way into every pair of headphones and party this year. Bad Bunny – the sobriquet of Puerto Rican reggaeton sensation Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — was everywhere on TikTok this year. Often he just sings while staring straight into the camera (although he does also jam in a bar to his hit La Jumpa). And along the way he's garnered 30 million TikTok followers. And sure it's a huge accomplishment to be the first artist to get a Grammy Album of the Year nomination for an album recorded in Spanish, it's equally impressive that in 2022 he was named Tiktok's number 1 breakthrough star. The only question is how will Bad Bunny hop to greater TikTok heights in 2023?

Iranian women protest Mahsa Amini's death by cutting their hair

Our final shout out is sobering – proof that TikTok has a serious side. This TikTok shows a series of Iranians cutting their hair in solidarity following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody in September after being detained by Iran's morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab inappropriately. Eyewitnesses and family members asserted that she was beaten by police, who denied this allegation. Note: There is one expletive used in this TikTok.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Max Barnhart
Max Barnhart is the 2022 AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellow at NPR. He is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate and science journalist studying the evolution of heat stress resistance in sunflowers at the University of Georgia.
Estefania Mitre
Estefania Mitre (she/her/ella) is a production assistant for social media who works with visual elements to amplify stories across platforms. She has experience reporting on culture, social justice and music.