Despite Trump’s crusade to ban TikTok, the social media app continues to rise in popularity. It seems like all of TikTok’s “sides” grow stronger: “straight” TikTok, “alt” TikTok, WitchTok—you name it. Music TikTok, however, has had a unique impact, influencing the music industry by dominating radio and streaming charts. Mia Giovina can be found in that side of TikTok—and she’s changing the game.
She doesn’t post your typical stories or original songs. Mia takes a song, studies it, rewrites the lyrics from another person’s perspective, and proceeds to produce the entirety of the song from scratch.
Since she started posting videos, the nineteen–year–old has garnered over 100,000 followers on the platform as @badgirlmiimii. The views on her videos range from a couple thousand to millions.
Mia’s goals, however, were not initially to become a social media star; she highlights that music has always been a major part of her life.
Mia's family is very musical, which certainly had an influence on the young musician. Her dad is an experienced piano player and her mom is a talented songwriter.
Even though she has always loved singing, Mia was a shy child. Initially, she disliked performing in front of others, until her aunt got her a gig at a hockey game when she was 10 years old. Mia remembers the nerve–racking build–up to her performance of the national anthem—but she loved it, and she hasn’t stopped singing publicly.
Since then, Mia began to participate in school musicals, singing in open mic nights at cafés, and booking gigs at local restaurants. However, she hadn’t realized she wanted to pursue a career in music until she reached high school.
“I think that when I went into high school was when I had the switch. Two of my best friends—like literally my two best friends in the world—both moved, right before high school started,” Mia recalls. “I was heartbroken. And I just had a really, really hard time transitioning into high school by myself. That's when I switched from ‘I like singing and I like theater’ to ‘this what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”
With her best friends gone, Mia immersed herself in music. She taught herself how to play the piano, opened an Instagram account to share covers, and began using the studio her dad set up in her basement. Although she received some mean comments from her peers regarding her Instagram account, she was determined to keep going.
She continued performing at cafés and restaurants, singing along to her dad’s piano, until COVID hit. Much like every teenager in the country, she was forced to lock herself up at home. But maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing for Mia.
During quarantine, she decided to open a TikTok account “for fun,” not knowing what was in store for her. After listening to a couple of videos of Harry Styles’ isolated vocals, Mia decided to play along to his singing.
“I put one of those [videos] on and then I was playing the piano. I was like, ‘oh my god, it's like, I'm actually playing for him,’” Mia laughs. “So I recorded some background instruments to go with his vocals. Then I added my own harmonies and background vocals and I made a TikTok. I posted it and actually did really well. I think I got like 300 views or something, which was a lot for me at the time.”
Mia decided that she wanted to post videos in which her vocals were the main focus. Even though this made her nervous—as she didn’t know if people were watching her videos because of Styles’ music instead of her singing—she decided to go for it. This then evolved into Mia rewriting popular songs from different points of view.
Since she wanted to use her own voice, she decided to not only rewrite the lyrics, but also to re–record and produce the music. When asked why she produces the song and music from scratch instead of just using a karaoke backing track, her answer is simple: She loves the process.
“As a singer, my specialty has been taking upbeat songs and slowing them down and making them sad,” she says. “That's like, my favorite thing to do. I could easily put karaoke tracks behind the rewrites and everything, but—the only answer I have is just, it's so much more fun for me to just create my own. I feel like it just completely turns the song. It just takes it one step further and really makes it my own.”
The last sentiment rings true, despite the fact that a lot of Mia’s content consists of rewritten songs, her style shines through her videos. These rewrites, and her undeniable talent, have led to recognition from some of her favorite artists and creators. Recently, a handful of cast members from Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms reposted a video of her rewrite of the show’s song “Unsaid Emily.” This was an exciting moment for Mia, as she is an admirer of Kenny Ortega, the show’s executive producer.
Despite this recognition, the most valuable support comes from her followers. These users, in addition to commenting on her talent, constantly reach out to Mia to talk about what her music means to them.
“My favorite comments are the ones that are like ‘your videos make my day’ or 'this made me feel safe’ or ‘your voice makes me feel so safe.’ And I don't know why—those are my favorite comments because I just want my music to be a safe place for people to come to,” she explains.
This love for music and recognition of it as a safe space is what led Mia to pursue music full–time. Today, with her TikTok following constantly growing, she is determined to make a name for herself in the music industry. As she continues to build her audience with her new manager’s help, rewrite more tracks, and create original music, her main focus continues to be her genuine love for music.
“I want to make really good music that makes me happy and makes other people happy listening to it. And you probably know the quote by Harry Styles,” she says as she flashes a smile. “He always says that, no matter what you're doing ‘if you're happy doing what you're doing, then nobody can tell you you're not successful.’ And I really, really try to live by that.”