2021 has already brought us its first fascinating and completely unexpected trend, as TikTok users have been enjoying the timeless pleasure of sea shanties. We expect to hear a lot more of these sea-faring songs soon, so maybe it’s time to find out the full story behind their current popularity.
Sea shanties are traditional folk songs that have been sung by people working out at sea since at least the mid-15th century. They had gone out of fashion, but you probably know some like Drunken Sailor and Blow the Man Down even if you’ve never spliced a main brace or battened down a hatch.
2021 has seen them sail right back into our lives, as the first viral trend of the year on TikTok. The man credited with making them popular again is Scottish mail worker Nathan Evans. He made waves with his version of The Wellerman whaling song, getting over seven million views.
This has turned into a huge marketing campaign for TikTok, with their #SeaShanty spot being launched on numerous TV channels. Landlubbers all over the planet are tuning up their pipes to launch their own versions of once-popular sea shanties.
Like with most viral trends, it’s hard to pin down why sea shanties have exploded in popularity this year. Some people suggest that they help to foster a sense of community and of working together, pointing out that we can all identify with the (metaphorical) idea of pulling together to sail through rough seas.
Of course, it helps that these are enormous fun and great to listen to. The style is one that many TikTok fans might not be familiar with, but it’s easy to get used to. The fact that so many people have taken the time to contribute shows how sea shanties have captured our imaginations.
Some people are adding their own harmonies to Evans’ song to create duets including the likes of dance beats or fiddles, while others have produced their own versions of old-time sailing songs. Clever musicians have also taken modern songs by artists like Taylor Swift and added a shanty vibe.
Don’t worry if you’ve missed some of the most popular videos, as there are plenty more fish in the sea. Use hashtags like #SeaShantyTikTok and #SeaShanty to see the best and latest additions to this trend. Google also reported in mid-January that “sea shanties” was now being searched more than at any time in history.
There is no denying that sea shanties had slipped under the waves for a long time, but how good is it to see them bobbing along on the crest of a wave now?
The trend might not last forever, as something else is bound to come along and grab the limelight for a while. However, the fact that sea shanties have now been introduced to such a wide new audience means that another generation gets to enjoy them while adding the modern touches that have brought them into 2021 with a splash.
Check out how our Bingo Chat Stars have decided to jump on the bandwagon (or bandship) in the video below.