The Sea Shanty Is Returning as TikTok’s Latest Viral Trend

In addition to its usual viral songs and dance trends, TikTok has now given way to a centuries-old tradition – the sea shanty. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a sea shanty is a sailor’s work song that originates from the days when sailing ships were manipulated by heavy sails and ropes from positions on the deck. Apparently, one shantyman would be picked to lead the crew in a call-and-response chorus. The leading shantyman would be chosen based on his seamanship and not on his musical talent, which often resulted in some rough vocals.

A New Zealand Sea Shanty Known As the Wellerman Is Among the More Popular Songs On Tik Tok

Nathan Evans Singing the Wellerman Sea Shanty on TikTok
One of such sea shanties that took off on TikTok is the New Zealand Wellerman song, which originated way back in the 19th century. This particular sea shanty was launched to popularity by Scottish TikToker Nathan Evans. He posted his rousing rendition on December 27th, and it was not even his first shanty. Apparently, he has been covering sea shanties for months and has even created his own full-length version of Leave Her Johnny.

Fans of the Sea Shanty Trend Use TikTok’s Duet Function to Sing Together

Sea Shanty Enthusiasts Sing and Play Using the TikTok's Duet Function.
What resulted from Nathan Evan’s ideas is a new TikTok trend that users have found inescapable. Known as ShantyTok, the trend has even led some people to demand that their new favorite songs become available on streaming platforms. Meanwhile, some fans of the sea shanty have used TikTok’s duet function to recreate the typical call-and-response aspects of the shanty. Some of the more creative and intricate renditions have harmonies and various instruments intertwining in complex and beautiful melodies.

The repetitive lyrics of the shanty usually refer to the duties a sailor would have, and the instrumentation would consist of a violin or fiddle. For now, sea shanties have proven to be a great new breeding ground for experimentation and improvisation. Certainly, of all the surprising trends that emerged from TikTok, this one is as delightfully wholesome as it is bizarre.