How “Need 2” Turned Into the Pinegrove Shuffle

A viral TikTok dance to the 2014 song "Need 2" is catapulting indie rock band Pinegrove to fame mere months after they split up.

How “Need 2” Turned Into the Pinegrove Shuffle
Quinn Moreland
July 7, 20235 min read
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By Quinn Moreland, a Third Bridge Creative contributor.

There’s nothing about Pinegrove’s song “Need 2” that screams TikTok virality. Originally released by the New Jersey indie rock band on their 2014 self-released album Mixtape Two, the unassuming song begins with ambient nature sounds and a steadily strummed guitar. The folksy song is through-composed, meaning it does not subscribe to a verse-chorus-bridge structure, and it echoes this abstraction in its lyrics, which ponder the impulse to write songs.

On April 27, when Pinegrove announced that the band would begin existing “on a more casual basis,” with band members pursuing their own ventures, “Need 2” seemed destined to be nothing more than a deep-cut. But, on June 8, TikTok user @garrettlee39 posted a video of himself dancing to a snippet of the song that goes “Nothing here to care about” in what appears to be a suburban front yard. Unlike the hyper-choreographed dances that populate TikTok, Lee’s “Need 2” moves are more free and loose-limbed: his arms flap across his body like heavy wings while his legs do a kind of two-step skip and hop. Lee looks like he could burst into tears at any moment.


Pine muthafreakin grove

♬ Need 2 - Pinegrove

Doing the Pinegrove shuffle

In late April to early May 2023, before its viral moment, “Need 2” was frequently used to soundtrack poetry slideshows on TikTok. The trend itself is relatively recent as it uses photo mode, a feature introduced in fall 2022 that allows users to post up to 35 images in a swipe-through carousel. Ostensibly intended as an alternative to TikTok’s tedious green screen effect, photo mode undeniably expands upon Instagram’s Galleries feature, further heightening competition between the apps.

The genre of TikTok slideshows that first embraced “Need 2” could be described as meme-poetry. Like a Tumblr feed compressed into a bite-sized nugget, they compile a wide variety of visual media, especially screenshots of posts from other sites, and often reflect vaguely emo sentiments like “isn’t it nice to be gentle with yourself” or “Sorry for being so weird it’s my first time being alive.” By early June, the song’s use in slideshows had become so ubiquitous that one user joked that each encounter with the song was actively developing their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain known as the “personality center.”


live laugh poetry slideshows #pinegrove #hopecore #poetryslideshow

♬ Need 2 - Pinegrove

But “Need 2” officially went viral on June 8 after Lee posted his video, captioned “pine muthafreakin grove.” Curiously, a glimpse at Lee’s past videos shows that he had previously done a similar dance to the emo band American Football’s 1999 song “Never Meant” and Mazzy Star’s 1993 hit “Fade Into You,” a relatively popular TikTok song in its own right. But the Pinegrove shuffle, as the dance would soon be known, hit it big when done to “Need 2”. Within 48 hours, other TikTok users had started posting their own interpretations. On June 10, @unbotheredkev, a popular user who creates dances in response to song prompts, offered his own rendition. Less than a week after Lee’s initial video, enough people had participated in the #pinegroveshuffle that one TikTok user even created an unusually wholesome compilation. As of July 6, “Need 2” has been featured in over 77k TikTok videos, over a 1000% increase from the 6.5k TikToks that had existed before Lee’s viral dance was posted.

The viral success of “Need 2” has translated to increased popularity on streaming services. The song itself has currently been streamed over 19.7M times on Spotify, which is over four times as many as the 4.6M streams it had as of April 27 when their hiatus was announced. During the same time span, the song has experienced a 1080% increase of YouTube views, totalling 774.6k to date.

Everything So Far, Pinegrove’s 2015 compilation album that features “Need 2,” has experienced a noted rise according to Spotify’s popularity index, going from 59 at the start of May to 75 as of July 6. Still, “Need 2” is not currently the band’s most-streamed song on Spotify—that title goes to their 2016 track “Old Friends,” which currently boasts 36M streams.

A healthy amount of skepticism and a natural response

Pinegrove have watched the TikTok success of “Need 2” with wonder. Though the project is in a state of flux, Pinegrove does face the same pressure to chase engagement or capitalize on the song’s virality in the way that is often required of up-and-coming artists. Their frontman, Evan Stephens Hall, explained that the band has made efforts to respond to the moment in a manner that aligns with their ethos, which is rooted in intention, introspection, and community. “I’m definitely on the skeptical side of internet trends and trends in general,” he told Chartmetric. “We’ve built a listenership through playing a lot of shows, through word of mouth.” Launching an ad campaign around the track or posting a reaction video, for example, was not something that the band was interested in. Plus, Hall adds, “anytime that we’ve spent a lot of money on PR, we’ve regretted it.”

On his personal Instagram, Hall shared a photo of himself giving a thumbs up with the caption “thank you for doing the pinegrove shuffle.” The band also uploaded the tabs to “Need 2” on their website, allowing fans new and old to play their own versions of their song. “The timing feels cosmic, but it doesn’t change our plans at all,” Hall says. “This feels like a nice going-away present.”

On June 15, Pinegrove released “Need 2” as a standalone digital EP that features “fast pinegrove,” “hyperspeed pinegrove,” and “slow pinegrove” versions of the track. In an interview, Hall explained how this decision was in accordance with the band’s history. “We’re always interested in complicating the idea that there’s a definitive version of a song,” Hall says, adding that he enjoys playing records at various speeds to discover new entry points into the material. “When it came to releasing different speeds of the song, that’s something I’m interested in anyway, I hardly needed any convincing for that.” After the release of the EP, “Need 2”’s Chartmetric track score rapidly ascended from 15 to 49 by July 6.

Why do I seem to “Need 2”

To some extent, the success of “Need 2” is unexplainable, yet another instance of TikTok’s algorithm rewarding haphazard creative experiments. “I don’t doubt that it’s partly luck,” Hall acknowledges. “But also, the dance moves are great. It’s this bizarre, very fluid move with a slightly disgruntled demeanor that’s a pretty good physical manifestation of what we’re doing.”

To that end, there is something poetic about the success of “Need 2,” a song about the inexplicable desire to create, on TikTok, an app that sees all users as creators. Hall brings up the song’s core question—“So then why do I seem to Need to?”—and points out the “Need 2”’s viral moment echoes this unanswerable question: “There's a moment of self discovery in that lyric like ‘Wow, I’m doing this, I’m watching myself do this.’”


sometimes i really love being in the same time line as you beautiful people #pinegrove #pinegroveshuffle #need2 #people

♬ Need 2 - Pinegrove

Graphics by Nicki Camberg and cover image by Crasianne Tirado.