It seems like there's always a new TikTok sensation that has the Internet buzzing, but not many of them can be traced back hundreds of years. The sea shanty trend is an exception, since the same 19th-century folk songs that sailors sang about whaling boats have captivated people across social media. The meme has now migrated over to Twitter, and these tweets about sea shanty TikTok show that everyone is getting on board.
Although shanty content has been on the popular video-sharing app for a while, the craze was arguably started by Scottish musician Nathan Evans. On Dec. 27, the TikTok creator shared a video of himself singing "The Wellerman," a shanty from the 1800s. The TikTok, which now has over a million likes, features Evans keeping time with his fist as he adds more and more harmonies to the lyrics "Soon may the Wellerman come / To bring us sugar and tea and rum."
Although "The Wellerman" was originally sung by crews as they hunted whales, TikTok's duet function has helped the song go viral in 2021, as other users added vocals to the video to create thousands of collabs. This isn't the first time that people have used the app to create music amid the pandemic (look no further than the Ratatouille musical), but there's an escapist historical fantasy element to sea shanty TikTok that's made it particularly appealing to many, especially after users have spent almost a year social distancing.
Now that the viral trend has crossed over to popular sites like Twitter, many users have taken to social media to express their own thoughts and jokes about the beloved art of shanties.
While Gen Z is mainly responsible for sea shanty TikTok going viral, it became popular enough that even older adults were eager to chime in on the unlikely hit.
Some Twitter users even argued that some of their favorite modern-day songs could actually double as sea shanties.
Here's hoping that plenty of pop songs can get the shanty treatment soon, and that everyone can gather on the high seas (or just, like, at a concert or restaurant) to keep the trend afloat throughout 2021.