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#CoreCore videos are becoming more popular on TikTok. What exactly are they?

The videos juxtapose images and video from various mediums and set them to emotional, rousing musical scores.
woman with headphones working on notebook computer
On TikTok, editing culture has thrived and content creators post edits of their favorite celebrities, television shows, influencers, bands and more.NBC News; Getty Images / iStockphoto

A video-editing style that some have likened to a form of visual poetry is popping up more frequently on some “For You” pages on TikTok. The style, meant to evoke strong, often unnamed feelings in viewers, has been dubbed “CoreCore.”

The "CoreCore" TikToks juxtapose images and video from various mediums — such as memes, headlines, movie and television clips — and sets them to emotional, rousing musical scores. The videos, which sometimes focus on one topic, can be used used as an artistic way to showcase social commentary. Urban Dictionary describes “CoreCore” as “Kind of a deconstructed art. Basically invoking emotion out of a series of (visual) clips that you develop your own meaning to. Corecore content is introspective.” 

For example, a popular “CoreCore” video that aims to describe the female experience juxtaposes several video clips from TikToks of girls and women describing their flaws with a clip of actor Margot Robbie’s crying face in the film “I, Tonya.” Later in the video, clips of men criticizing women appear, followed by headlines about women. All of this is set to the quiet piano song “Wyoming“ by Elijah Fox. 

The term “CoreCore” popped up on Tumblr in 2020. On TikTok, its usage as a hashtag dates back to July 2022. But the video phenomenon appears to have grown in recent weeks — as of Friday, the hashtag “#CoreCore” had more than 322.6 million views.

Still, the creator of the trend is unknown.

Some on TikTok point to a video collage from the user @masonoelle from January 2021 as the first prominent example of the form on the platform. It features footage of the Arctic sea ice melting over the course of 35 years, influencer Charli D’Amelio, the horror film "American Psycho" and people shopping. The caption does not include the hashtag "CoreCore."

But many credit content creator John Rising, who goes by @HighEnquiries on the platform, as the father of “CoreCore.” Rising, 40, who began experimenting with the art style in May 2021, said he wanted to take his viewers “on a short journey while only using scenes from current and old media, film, TV and the ‘art’ world.”

Rising doesn’t consider himself an artist, or even the originator of this type of video art — he credits Korean American mixed media artist Nam June Paik for that. However, he said he has loved helping expose others, especially young adults, to new forms of art on TikTok.

“If I can take images, sound and music and display it to you, the viewer, with a theme or message, that you feel after watching it, then I feel like I have achieved something,” Rising said in an email to NBC News. “And I genuinely find a joy in just the creative process of making them ... it has seemed to have become somewhat cathartic for me and also now with the viewers. So that is wonderful.”

Some who have made "CoreCore" videos say they believe the term itself reflects how "meta" the internet has become.

"I think this is a natural progression of generations growing up through different stages of the internet and becoming increasingly meta about it over time," TikTok creator Rob Dezendorf, 29, said of the editing style.

The name “CoreCore” is also a play on how many online niches are described as something-“core.” For example, someone who loves Disney might be described as “DisneyCore,” or someone who obsesses over ceramic frogs might be described as “FrogCore.” So “CoreCore,” a kind of cyclical term, is, in a way, a joke. There are also other editing styles that take a “core” suffix on TikTok.

Ashling Sugrue, a TikTok content creator, said the popularity of "CoreCore" videos also shows how people's editing styles have matured. Editing culture on TikTok has continued to thrive as content creators increasingly post edits of their favorite celebrities, television shows, influencers, bands and more. “CoreCore” video edits appear to be a perfect niche style alongside these other edit videos. 

The platform is "starting to become established, so people put more effort into their videos,” Sugrue said, jokingly adding, “not me though.”

Sugrue said what she likes about “CoreCore” videos is that they’re meditative and slower than than the typical fast pace of TikTok.

The videos "also feel very cathartic, because I think a lot of us feel like our existence is weird or dissonant right now, and 'corecore' videos are like, 'Yeah. Yeah,'" Sugrue said.

Sugrue recently posted a video to TikTok asking people to share what they liked about the trend. The answers varied, but many described finding a sense of unity and community through the videos that focus on hard topics.

"I think corecore is so popular right now because we can all relate to suffering somehow, especially as of late," one user responded. "It makes people feel seen."

Another wrote, "corecore makes people feel like they're not alone with heavy feelings when they exist in a world that constantly tries to make them believe otherwise."

Others wrote that they were unfamiliar with "CoreCore" until Sugrue posed the question, suggesting the genre of video hasn't gone entirely mainstream just yet.