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HomeTechWhat is a sea shanty? The TikTok trend explained

What is a sea shanty? The TikTok trend explained

What is a sea shanty? The TikTok trend explained
Victorian black and white print entitled The Last Catch of the Year by artist W H Borrow; depicts a fishing boat coming ashore landing their catch
Sea shanties are said to go back as far as the 16th century. (Picture: Getty Images)

Sea shanty videos are the surprising new TikTok trend, with thousands recording themselves singing along to traditional folk songs online. 

The deep-sea ditties are inspiring people to find out more about the history of shanties – and show off their pipes, too. 

TikTok is known for its viral musical trends, but this one is pretty unusual even for the app.

And sea shanties are a bit more old-fashioned than your usual WAP remixes and dance challenges. 

TikTok and Facebook application  on screen Apple iPhone XR
Sea shanties are all over TikTok at the moment. (Picture: Getty Images)

What is a sea shanty?

Sea shanties are songs traditionally sung by sailors or fishermen, usually to boost morale during long trips on the ocean. 

The folk songs are thought to go back as far as the 16th century, and have found a new lease of life on social media. 

Shanties tend to tell tales of sea-faring life – featuring stories about rum, sugar, whales and waves. 

TikTok is the perfect home for them, because they rely on a call-and-response pattern, perfect for the duetting feature on the app.

The rhythm of the songs were also used to inspire sailors to get to work – so expect to see them on WFH playlists sometime soon…

An engraving of a group of sailors sat in a circle singing. The caption reads Saturday night at sea
The harmonies were said to inspire hard work among sailors. (Picture: Getty Images)

Why are people creating sea shanties?

TikTok feeds have been swimming in sea shanties since the end of December, thanks to Scottish singer Nathan Evans

He posted two sea shanty videos – one called The Scotsman, and another called the Wellerman – which went viral over the New Year. 

After that, sea shanties were suddenly everywhere, with singer Luke The Voice adding harmonies to the original posts – which has been liked 575k times. 

Now everyone seems to be getting involved, with people creating dance remixes and harp versions of the songs. 

What are the most popular sea shanty videos on TikTok?

Nathan Evans’ first sea shanty TikTok now has 4.3 million views, and Luke The Voice’s harmony has beaten that with 5.1 million views on his version. 

An account named @sampopemusic is closing in on them, with 570k views on his sea shanty video.