This TikTok cat's song is moving people to tears

Mashed Potato just kicked off the biggest duet phenomenon since sea shanties.

Welcome to Embedded, your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, published Monday through Friday by Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci. “Get Embedded” on Twitter and Instagram. 🧩

This one goes out to Charlie Warzel for recommending Embedded in The Cut. —Kate


Collaboration is key to TikTok, and it drives pretty much every popular trend on the app. Nowhere is this more satisfying to witness than in music. In January, sea shanties—"Soon May the Wellerman Come" in particular—bubbled back into the mainstream after 200 years when users started dueting their own harmonies over musicians’ videos, creating long, magnificent chains. The same thing is now happening with Mashed Potato, a cat who lives down the road from TikTok user @june_banoon

The first video, which June posted six days ago, features Mashed Potato walking toward the camera while June sings the lyrics of a made-up song: “Here comes the boy / Hello boy / Welcome / There he is / He is here.” 

Maybe it’s June’s little laugh when they sing the word “Hello,” or the way Mashed Potato’s head collides with the camera on the last “here,” but something about this sweet song inspired @alexfromsf to duet the video with some jazzy piano instrumentals. The result is ... hypnotic. Even writing this I keep wasting time listening to the sound over and over again. It’s like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood meets Billie Holiday meets the Greek Sirens, and I’m not the only one totally transfixed.

“This is so surreal,” one commenter writes. 

“Does anyone know any songs/artists that give off this same vibe?” another asks. “It’s so beautiful and for some reason reminds me of my childhood.” (Vashti Bunyan, Nico, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel are all named in the replies).

Other users soon began duetting @alexfromsf’s duet to add instruments, like violin and cello. Others gave it their own spin with the guitar

The various versions of the song are so comforting, so reminiscent of things like “childhood” and “safety,” that listeners say they literally start crying. I tried to figure out if there was a technical, musicological reason for this—well, I Googled “what makes Mister Rogers’ songs sound so nice”—but ultimately, I think, it's just sweet music made all the more poignant by the fact that strangers are collaborating in a genuine, beautiful way. 

Here’s a playlist of similar-sounding songs someone made on Spotify to bless your day. And here’s a bit more Mashed Potato for the same reason.