Unveiling Noah Kahan: From Vermont to TikTok to global fame

Noah Kahan is a comfort artist for many Butler students. Photo courtesy of Variety

MADDY BRODERICK | STAFF REPORTER | mbroderick@butler.edu 

In the age of TikTok and viral sensations, a new breed of pop stars has emerged, drawing immense influence from social media platforms often overlooked by the traditional music press. 

Noah Kahan stands as the perfect example of this trend, attracting substantial attention on Spotify and TikTok while steadily climbing the Billboard charts since the release of his third album, “Stick Season”, in 2022. Despite being nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist, Kahan continues to balance mainstream success with his underground appeal. 

Noah Kahan’s journey from an emerging artist to one of Gen Z’s current favorites has been nothing short of remarkable. His music, characterized by powerful lyrics and soft melodies, has resonated with audiences worldwide. On campus, many students find Kahan’s music to be captivating and have found solace and comfort in his songs. 

Anna Grace Muckerheide, a first-year youth and community development major, was first introduced to Kahan on a bus ride with her high school volleyball team two years ago. 

“My best friend … played a song on a bus ride to one of our games, and then we were all like, ‘Oh my god, he’s so good,’” Muckerheide said. 

Since then, Kahan’s music has been on repeat for her, particularly his album “Stick Season”. Muckerheide said that the album has a special place in her heart, resonating with themes of transition, self-discovery and resilience. 

Songs such as “Carlo’s Song” have had major impacts on her life, especially during significant life transitions, such as moving away from friends and family for college. As she navigates the unfamiliar experiences of college, Muckerheide finds comfort in the relatable narrative. 

“[The song] is about trying to find yourself again, even after difficult life changes,” Muckerheide said. “It’s about making changes [until] you become the person you are destined to be.” 

Sophomore actuarial science major Annie Cole stumbled upon Kahan’s music through TikTok in 2020. Cole was intrigued by the snippets of his voice she heard on the platform. After she discovered his music, Cole decided to explore his other songs and truly listen to the lyrics. 

“His lyrics make other people feel [the way] he’s feeling and not feel alone in their experiences,” Cole said. 

In discussing Kahan’s rise to fame, Cole emphasized the role of platforms like TikTok, highlighting how they have revolutionized the music industry by providing a space for artists to showcase their talent. She elaborated on how TikTok’s algorithm-driven discovery page caused Kahan’s music to reach diverse demographics. 

“I think that [TikTok] was just the ‘it’ platform at the time [of COVID-19], and so he was able to reach his target audience,” Cole said. “Since then, [Kahan] kept becoming more known, and I [don’t] think it would have been possible without [social media].” 

Junior biology major Ali Mohamed has been a Noah Kahan fan since his rise to fame. Introduced to Kahan’s music in 2021 by a friend, Mohamed found himself drawn to his songs, especially “False Confidence” from the “Busyhead” album. While “Busyhead” initially captivated him, Mohamed’s admiration has shifted toward Kahan’s more recent releases. 

“I personally really like folk music, and so I am a big fan of all his songs and his voice in general,” Mohamed said. “Right now, I have been listening to ‘Forever’, his new song on his re-released version of ‘Stick Season’.” 

Reflecting on Kahan’s rise to fame, Mohamed acknowledged the role of platforms like TikTok in amplifying artists’ visibility. He believes Kahan’s songwriting skills also played a crucial role in his recognition, with TikTok catalyzing broader exposure. 

“I think TikTok changed the game,” Mohamed said. “It’s how every artist is trying to advertise their songs because that is where songs blow up these days … I think with TikTok and collaborations with different artists has increased [Kahan’s] audience demographics.” 

One thing these three Noah Kahan fans have in common is the hope that Kahan stays authentic to who he is and does not change for his fan base. 

Muckerheide mentioned that in some cases, fame can get to the musician’s head. 

“A lot of times with rises to fame, artists can change who they are because of the money they’re making [or] because of the people [they] are [creating music] with,” Muckerheide said. “I hope he doesn’t change for the fan base and continues to write about what he wants to write about.” 

Cole also appreciates Kahan’s style and is looking forward to new music under a similar umbrella. 

“I hope that he stays who he is,” Cole said. “He’s really funny and is not afraid to say, ‘This is how I’m feeling, [so] I’m gonna write a song about it.’ I hope he just stays true to how he’s feeling and what he’s dealing with, and I love [his] style. I don’t want him to switch it up; I really like the folk-country thing he’s got going on.” 

While he is aware that change is somewhat inevitable for an up-and-coming music artist, Mohamed has similar hopes for Kahan’s future. 

“I hope his acoustic style stays the same, and that pop doesn’t influence his music too much,” Mohamed said. “I would love to see what he puts out next.” 

Noah Kahan’s music is available to stream across a variety of platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.


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