The 2014 Pop Hit “Geronimo” Is Popular Again for All the Wrong Reasons


Dec. 4 2020, Updated 1:35 p.m. ET

geronimo meaning tiktok
Source: Getty Images

The word “Geronimo” has become a slur on TikTok — but just for laughs, apparently, not because of anything about the word’s meaning. (FYI, Geronimo was a 19th-century Bedonkohe Apache leader whose name became a battle cry for World War II paratroopers.)

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“Guys, please don’t say ‘Geronimo,’” one user wrote. “It’s actually a slur against the white community.” 

And as more and more TikTok users post videos of themselves censoring the word “Geronimo” in the 2014 song of the same name, the Australian pop band Sheppard is getting a dubious return to the spotlight.

“Geronimo” was a hit for Sheppard.

Source: Getty Images

Released in February 2014, “Geronimo” was a massive hit in the band’s native Australia, hitting No. 1 on the ARIA Charts and going platinum five times over. The track also helped Sheppard win the 2014 ARIA Award for Best Group.

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Stateside, however, Sheppard was sort of a one-hit wonder: It peaked at No. 53 on the Billboard Hot 100, and all of the band’s other tracks have failed to chart.

Now the song is getting dragged on YouTube.

YouTube commenters have mocked the “Geronimo” music video in recent weeks — saying, for example, that the track is “the whitest song to ever exist,” that it “sounds like granola,” that it “makes [the commenter] want to commit war crimes,” that it “sounds like the keto diet” and that “this is what unseasoned chicken sounds like.”

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Another commenter, meanwhile, pointed out the inanity of the “Geronimo” meme. “There is literally nothing to laugh about, but TikTok has somehow made a way to make this a meme,” that person wrote.

People are surprised to find out the song isn’t about a mouse.

Some social media users, meanwhile, are just now realizing that the song isn’t related to the popular children’s book series about mouse journalist Geronimo Stilton.

“I always thought this song was about the Geronimo Stilton book series about the rat who went on adventures LOL,” one YouTube user wrote.

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And on TikTok, a user exclaimed, “Oh my god, Geronimo is an actual word. I literally thought they were talking about the rat books that the weird kids read, a.k.a. me. OMG OMG I thought this song was about a rat.”

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The song has another claim to infamy: a NXIVM promotional video.

“Geronimo” also made headlines in November 2020, when an episode of the Starz docuseries Seduced showed that NXIVM — the same sex cult that inspired the HBO docuseries The Vow— used the song in a promotional video. 

“We haven’t and would never have allowed our music to be featured by NXIVM in their promotional video, and we were not approached by the documentary to have this unauthorized usage featured in the program,” vocalist George Sheppard said at the time, per the Daily Mail.

“It goes without saying that the allegations and charges surrounding the NXIVM cult are reprehensible and in no way would we want our music associated with such an organization or for it to be implied by the documentary makers that we have approved this usage.”

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