in ,

What’s Up With Everyone Talking About Sea Shanties Right Now?

It started on TikTok, but at this point in 2021, almost every social media platform is overrun with sea shanties.

If by some miracle you remain unfamiliar with the concept, a sea shanty is a kind of work song, commonly sung on large vessels with a crew that needed to work in time together.

They’re extremely catchy and hypnotic (shanty sometimes means “chanty” or “chant”) and satisfying to sing and have a very long history.

The shanty that you’ve most likely heard in this new renaissance is called “The Wellerman,” a song about the New Zealand whaling industry,

The first version posted to TikTok to take off was by Scottish TikToker Nathan Evans. The platform’s duet feature allowed people to lay on more and more harmonies, which is what makes a shanty sound its best. I

t’s gotten to the point where the duets now include instrumentals—not traditional, but this track slaps:

Since most of the new sea shanty enthusiasts are novices, the professionals are having a great time debating the historical meaning of this new trend and the origins of “The Wellerman,” which refers to a company called the Weller Bros. that supplied ships.

For example, a folk musician named David Coffin told the New York Times that “‘Wellerman’ is not really a shanty,” but rather a whaling song with the beat of a shanty. Okay, brother, whatever you say!

The Daily Dot interviewed a sea shanty band called The Longest Johns, who believe their own music is at the heart of “The Wellerman” revival.

“It’s actually grown in popularity since we put out a video about a year and a half ago of us singing it at other people in the game Sea of Thieves,” said one of their members, Jonathan “JD” Darley. “We made a little series called Open Crewsing where we’d join random players and start singing for them in the game. The first one we put out was ‘The Wellerman.'”

Darley said from the Sea of Thieves (a popular Xbox adventure game) it moved on to Tumblr, then iFunny, then Reddit. They then released their songs for use on TikTok and it blew up. The most popular version now is still the a cappella rendition by Nathan Evans.

Now people are making sea shanty versions of modern songs to sing together across TikTok, like Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” and Cardi B’s “W.A.P.”

And enthusiasm for “The Wellerman” hasn’t died down. it’s gotten remixes and cameos from such big hitters as Kermit The Frog:

It’s hard to say why these are so satisfying. Even the haters can get sucked into bopping to a sea shanty right now:

People have their theories:

But if you are feeling the shanty spirit and want to get familiar with other songs, the long haul shanty enthusiasts have suggestions:

One day, we’ll all sing this together in the same place again.

Nevermind, it’s ruined.

More links you may or may not like: