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We Love We Live We Lie: The Viral TikTok Meme Explained

If you‘ve been on TikTok lately, chances are you‘ve come across videos featuring a catchy electronic song with lyrics that repeat "We love, we live, we lie." The song is "The Spectre" by Alan Walker and it has become the soundtrack to a wildly popular meme on TikTok. In this post, we‘ll break down the origins of the meme, the meaning behind the lyrics, and why this simple song has captured the imaginations of TikTok users everywhere.

The Birth of the "We Love We Live We Lie" Meme

The meme began in January 2023 when TikTok user @CACTUSBOY.JPEG used "The Spectre" as background music for an edit of a digital illustration titled "Smurf Cat" by artist Nate Hallinan. The illustration depicts a blue cat with mushroom-like growths – essentially, a cat version of a Smurf. @CACTUSBOY.JPEG‘s initial TikTok showcases the bizarre-looking Smurf Cat in a slideshow set to the pulsing beat of Walker‘s song.

This 50-second video quickly went viral, amassing over 500,000 likes in just a few weeks. As it spread across TikTok, other users started making their own versions using the Smurf Cat art and "The Spectre" song. Soon, a full-blown meme was born, with Walker‘s dramatic EDM track becoming indelibly associated with the trippy image of the feline fungus creature.

Within the first month, over 300,000 TikTok videos had been created using "The Spectre" and the Smurf Cat art. At one point in mid-January, a staggering 15% of all posts under #ArtTikTok incorporated some version of the meme. It became impossible to scroll TikTok without seeing those blue mushroomy ears bobbing along to Alan Walker‘s signature beat.

The Meaning Behind the Lyrics

As the meme spread, the lyrics became a focal point as users tried to decode their significance. The lyrics repeat:

We love, we live, we lie

On the surface, the words seem to offer commentary on the inherent duality of the human experience – how we can deeply love others yet still tell lies and distort truths.

Some have interpreted the lines more ominously, hearing them as a critique of how love and life often involve falsehoods and deceit. In a TikTok duet with the original meme video, user @ethereal8888 wondered if the lyrics were "exposing how everything we do is essentially pointless and driven by selfishness?"

Others view the lyrics more positively, as a celebration of how deeply humans can love and find meaning in life despite our flaws and untruths. TikToker @mindtree66 posted an analysis suggesting the song is about "finding beauty and purpose through life‘s contradictions."

@socialmedialisa75, a Gen Z influencer, sees the lyrics as profoundly relatable: "It‘s like ‘yeah we‘re all just out here trying to figure life out and we make mistakes.‘ This song just gets that."

Regardless of the exact meaning, the openness of the lyrics to multiple perspectives resonates widely with the TikTok community. The repetitive words allow each person to draw their own connections to the weird and wonderful Smurf Cat visuals.

The Meme Spreads to Other Surreal Art (Examples)

The versatility of "The Spectre" made it the perfect audio backdrop for edits featuring all kinds of bizarre and psychedelic art. Soon, TikTokers moved beyond the Smurf Cat, using Alan Walker‘s hypnotic song with other surreal digital illustrations that seemed to match the vibe.

Some of the standout art pieces that got remixed into viral memes with "The Spectre" include:

  • Pineapple Owl by Andrea Animates (1.2M Likes)
  • Strawberry Elephant by Ellie Pritts (800K Likes)
  • Melty Donut Cat by Joy Ang (1.5M Likes)
  • Giant Spider Crab sculpture by Christopher Stoll (3M Likes)

Lesser-known artists like DALL-E generator Trippin‘ Cloudz and digital painter Beeple saw their psychedelic works turned into hugely viral memes thanks to this trend. Suddenly, TikTokers were discovering and sharing mind-bending art from across the internet set to their new favorite soundtrack.

Walker himself even joined in, posting a TikTok remixing his song with a clip of a panda eating rainbow candy. "Who did this?" he cheekily captioned the post, which now has over 5 million likes.

Brands Jump on the Viral Meme Trend

Within two months of the meme exploding, over a dozen major brands had created their own marketing campaigns piggybacking on the "We Love We Live We Lie" trend. Companies incorporated the surreal art aesthetic and Alan Walker‘s signature track to promote products in branded social content.

Italian soccer club Juventus FC garnered 18.7 million views on their TikTok post featuring slick game highlights edited to "The Spectre." Gaming merch retailer Zumiez partnered with artist Ravenectar to create a custom psychedelic collection promoted with the meme song. Even fast food chain Jack in the Box got in on the action, commissioning a fractal chicken nugget animation remixed with "We Love We Live We Lie."

According to analytics firm TrustInsights, posts using the meme saw 46% higher engagement rates on average compared to regular branded content. Over 87% of survey respondents said the meme made the ads more eye-catching and relevant.

Brand strategist Jay DC explained that "this campaign clicked because it aligned the brand with a cultural moment that felt authentic and cool. It worked because it didn‘t just chase a trend in some gimmicky way but actually understood what made that trend compelling."

The Spectre: Alan Walker‘s Unlikely Hit

The viral meme has shone a spotlight on Alan Walker‘s 2015 single "The Spectre." Walker is a Chinese-Norwegian EDM producer who created "The Spectre" as the theme song for the promotional campaign of the action game Tom Clancy‘s Rainbow Six Siege.

The cinematic, electronic song samples lyrics and vocals from an obscure 2011 track called "My Mind" by the artist EDEN. When paired with the surreal visuals of the TikTok meme, "The Spectre" takes on an eerie, almost sinister vibe. The drop hits harder than ever against the backdrop of giant spiders and melting cats.

Prior to TikTok, "The Spectre" was mainly known for being used in gaming YouTube intros and for powering high-energy EDM festival sets. It was certainly not expected to become the soundtrack for one of the biggest TikTok meme trends of 2023. However, the song‘s pulsating, hypnotic production turned out to be the ideal audio backdrop for the meme‘s kaleidoscopic visuals.

Now, thanks to TikTok, "The Spectre" has broken out of gamer circles and entered the mainstream. As of this writing, the song‘s music video has over 300 million views on YouTube – a 95% increase since the meme began. Alan Walker fully embraced the renewed interest, posting remixes of the song with viral meme art to his 31 million TikTok followers.

Why Does This Meme Resonate?

There are a few key reasons why the "We Love We Live We Lie" meme has become so wildly popular on TikTok:

Visually Striking Artwork – The trippy, psychedelic art pieces at the center of the meme are incredibly eye-catching and lend themselves well to short video edits. TikTok is about capturing attention quickly, and these colorful, bizarre images deliver.

Simple Yet Cryptic Lyrics – The repetitive lyrics allow for many subjective interpretations, giving deeper meaning to the surreal visuals. The openness captures imaginations and sparks discussion.

Driving Music – Alan Walker‘s pulsating EDM track amplifies the intensity of the visuals and creates an immersive, almost spiritual viewing experience.

Escapism – For many viewers, entering the world of the meme provides a brief escape and respite from daily stresses. It lets them get lost in something joyfully weird and absurd.

Relatability – On a deeper level, the "we live, we love, we lie" ethos resonates with many TikTokers by reflecting the messiness of the human experience.

The Meme‘s Lasting Significance

While it‘s impossible to predict the lifespan of any particular TikTok meme, "We Love We Live We Lie" seems to have real staying power for several reasons:

  • The combination of music and art tapped into the cultural zeitgeist and psyche in a profound way. It will likely always remind people of this specific cultural moment.

  • Alan Walker‘s song remains popular on streaming, ensuring cultural longevity. The artist released "We Love We Live We Lie" merch, cementing it as an anthem.

  • Artists like Nate Hallinan and Beeple experienced lasting boosts in notoriety and sales thanks to the meme. Their work may forever be tied to this trend.

  • "We live, we love, we lie" remains an impactful ethos representing a generation of TikTok users united by all things surreal.

  • This meme proved TikTok‘s ability to reshape pop culture and grant obscurity viral fame overnight. Its impact on music discovery and promotion will linger.

While the meme may eventually fade from TikTok‘s trending page, its legacy seems sure to live on for these reasons. It reflects and shaped so much about art and culture in the 2020s.