For the first time in quite awhile, there’s a new Tik Tok trend going around that actually doesn’t require anyone to even have a Tik Tok to know about. The interesting aspect is, what’s trending is a song that isn’t incredibly annoying after a few plays and it doesn’t have a weird dance to do to it. Those two reasons alone are probably why it’s exploded in popularity, but if you don’t know what’s being referred to, it’s sea shanties. More specifically, it’s the sea shanty “The Wellerman” that exploded in popularity, however many more are coming in its wake.
I myself fell victim to what many are falling to. It starts off as ‘what’s this stupid song? Who let you put on the music?’ to, ‘Wait, why am I tapping my foot and humming?’ to, ‘can you play it again?’ to, ‘how about one more time?’ to, ‘OMG! I love to sing this as boldly as I can with my friends!’ It’s incredibly odd, but it all seemed to come out of nowhere somewhere between the end of December to the beginning of January with the Tik Tok user @nathanevanss posting himself singing the main lyrics to “The Wellerman” along with adding in a soft beat of him hitting a table that now has 10 million plays at the time of writing this.
While Evans has lots of other sea shanties on his profile, none of them have nearly as many views as his “Wellerman” Tik Tok. His original Tik Tok then opened the gates to tons of different sea shanties like “Drunken Sailor”, “Bully Boy”, and many others which can be located on his profile. That’s the most interesting aspect of all is how it seems that Evens’ profile is the one who’s starting all of the most duetted shanties.
What made sea shanties of all things become popular again though? It seemed to go as far back as a pirate next to a jukebox dancing to “drunken sailor.” “Meme culture” also has a big part to play in all of this and what that essentially describes this culture is how teenagers and young adults take something and make it popular through making jokes of it. It’s also worth noting that sometimes these jokes stop becoming jokes and people actually like the thing they’re making fun of. For example, the different shanties in the game Sea of Thieves were heavily popularized for only a short period of time and for too little because the game wasn’t really that popular in general.
However, when you have different teenagers who want to jokingly embrace their inner pirate or rebel and want to sing a bonding song with their friends, then Tik Tok and sea shanties seemed to be the perfect storm. Tik Tok is used mainly for sharing different music and combined with the meme culture of Tik Tok, things blended so perfectly because now everyone has not only catchy songs, but catchy songs that were created for the soul purpose of bonding with friends.
It’s not even really a joke at this point as singing “pirate songs” seemed so childish and silly, but now, everyone’s taking these shanties seriously and singing them with their friends. Call it amazing luck, call it a perfect combination, call it whatever you will. What’s inherently clear is that singing or adding different musical aspects to Tik Tok sea shanties with friends is a new ship that hopefully won’t sail for a long time.