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.
Since Evans’s sea shanty TikTok went viral, other singers have been adding to it.
Singers clearly weren’t enough. Fiddles were then added.
Then the trend took on a new style. ‘Wellerman’ even got its own club remix.
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.
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.