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The viral sea shanty trend sweeping TikTok: We explain the phenomenon

#SeaShantyTikTok is currently dominating social media platforms, thanks to a rendition of 'Wellerman' by a Scottish postman and folk singer. Here, we provide a short history of sea shanties and explain what this viral trend is all about


Although they were originally sung by seamen aboard merchant ships and fishing ships in the 1400s, sea shanties are currently seeing a surprising resurgence – on TikTok. Scottish postman and folk singer Nathan Evans began the viral trend with a cover of ‘Wellerman’, a 19th-century New Zealand whaler song.


The Wellerman. #seashanty #sea #shanty #viral #singing #acoustic #pirate #new #original #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #singer #scottishsinger #scottish

♬ original sound - N A T H A N E V A N S S

Since Evans’s sea shanty TikTok went viral, other singers have been adding to it.


#duet with @the.bobbybass SHANTY TIME once again! Adding a lower middle harmony 🙂 @nthnevnss @_luke.the.voice_ @apsloan01 #shantytok #wellerman

♬ original sound - N A T H A N E V A N S S

Singers clearly weren’t enough. Fiddles were then added.


Added strings to @anipeterson’s version as well because I got so many requests! @nthnevnss @_luke.the.voice_ #fyp #seashanty #wellerman #viral #fiddle

♬ original sound - miaasanomusic

Then the trend took on a new style. ‘Wellerman’ even got its own club remix.


#duet with @_luke.the.voice_ #bass #xyzbca #xyzcba #stitch #foru #foryou #fyp #banger #seashanty @nthnevnss

♬ original sound - N A T H A N E V A N S S

TikTok is usually the home of lip-syncs, dance challenges and comedy sketches, but is now the epicentre of a sea shanty renaissance.

The phenomenon is sweeping the rest of the internet too now, thanks to its TikTok success. Google Trends tweeted on 12 January that ‘sea shanties‘ as a search term had reached its peak in Google’s history.

This isn’t the first time sea shanties have entered the public consciousness: in 2019, the story of the Fisherman’s Friends, a sea shanty crew from Port Isaac in Cornwall, was adapted for film.

The film, starring Daniel Mays and James Purefoy, tells the true story of the Fisherman’s Friends, who were signed by Universal Records and achieved chart success with their renditions of sea shanties.

You can watch Fisherman’s Friends on Amazon Prime, YouTube or Google Play.