Over the last month you might’ve come across a TikTok featuring a Scottish lad with a thick accent covering a seafaring folk song called The Wellerman.
That lad is Nathan Evans and while The Wellerman might be your first encounter with him, he’s actually been trying to make it as a musician for a good few years.
But it was the TikTok below that earned Evans global recognition.
@nathanevanssThe 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
In a post to TikTok last week, Evans announced he had signed a record deal with Polydor Records, a division of Universal Music.
“See how I was a Postman on Friday? I have just signed to the biggest record label in the world. I have just signed a deal with Polydor Records. I’ve done it, it’s done,” Evans said in a TikTok.
At the weekend Evans released his first single which is at the bottom of the post.
The song, Soon May the Wellerman Come, performed by Evans is actually a cover of the song done by The Longest Johns. The quartet often plays pirate-themed games such as Sea of Thieves where they sing sea shanties, much to the enjoyment of other players.
One thing that is for certain however is that sea shanties are trendy and we’re very much okay with that.
While the trend works incredibly well for TikTok (we’ll explain why in a moment) the fascination with sea shanties is global.
A look at Google Trends data between 2004 and 2021 reveals that sea shanties have never been as popular as they are today, and yes that includes the release of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag.
The question is why?
Quite frankly, TikTok is behind it.
The core of a sea shanty is the call and response. A shantyman would issue a call to which crewmates would respond. Sea shanties are work songs and as such would accompany hard labour. The songs sung would help establish the rhythm for things such as raising an anchor or working with rope.
While TikTok isn’t exactly work, the idea of a call and a response works well in TikTok duets which is where Soon May the Wellerman Come blew up.
You can and should check out this deep dive into the music theory of sea shanties here. YouTuber Adam Neely looks at the history of sea shanties, how they were created and why they are popular right now.
What we will be curious to see is if other shantymen or shantywomen become stars like Evans has. While we do love a good sea shanty we don’t see it becoming a regular feature on the charts.
That having been said, perhaps EDM shanties have a chance.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]