Sea shanty: Why are the songs so popular on TikTok right now?

Lawrence Kim
January 21, 2021

Over the years, disco and reggae are among the musical genres awarded their own tallies.

Nathan Evan's version of classic NZ sea shanty, The Wellerman, has been liked by more than 1.2 million followers and inspired collaboration videos.

While searches for "Sea shanty" jumped by 630% this week.

One famous sea shanty you might have sung at school is called Drunken Sailor. The Kingston Trio recorded it as "The Wreck of the John B." in 1958. So Jardine performed the track on the piano once more, giving it a Beach Boys really feel. Within 24 hours, the song was recorded, with some lyrical changes by Wilson.

Though "Sloop John B" is the one sea shanty to be successful on the charts, many different artists have turned to the commemorated style.

Listen to Spotify's "Sea Shanties" playlist on Spotify now. Ives recorded an entire album of sea shanties, "Down to the Sea in Ships". The 18-track LP included titles like "Jack Was Each Inch a Sailor" and "The Sailor's Grave".

A YouTuber's "sea shanty" song - "Soon May The Vaccine Come" - seems to have impressed the netizens. The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart. "And then this has now happened and each one has gone bigger and bigger and bigger than the one previously as more people start to recognise and connect with the song", Darley said."It's just like this insane spiral of growth that it's seen."Promise Uzowulu, a 23-year-old nursing student from Houston, Texas, who goes by the TikTok handle @strong_promises, is partly responsible for this recent wave.His 43-second video, singing along to the Longest Johns' version of The Wellerman in the auto with his 21-year-old brother Frank, charts the honest emotional trajectory familiar to new sea shanty fans and has had tens of millions of views.Uzowulu said: "He put it on and I was sceptical at first because he plays some weird music". Many artists with Irish roots have turned to the style, together with the Pogues, the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners and the Irish Rovers.

The Scottish postal worker is a part-time singer, and the source of a monster trend on the social media app TikTok: sea shanties. But for now, it's down to the sea in ships with this very old musical form.

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