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What’s the Deal with Sea Shanties? (And 5 Worth Checking Out)

A sailing ship with brilliant white sails framed against a a tropical island and blue skies.
Alvov/Shutterstock

Regardless of whether you’re on social media, you’ve likely seen sea shanties popping up in the news. But why? Like most viral trends these days, you can thank TikTok. Here’s the scoop.

The trend is being dubbed “ShantyTok” and involves users of the video-sharing platform, well, singing sea shanties. And they’re pretty intense. Users have started collaborating together, recording themselves doing multiple lines of harmony, and generally putting together extremely impressive (and often funny) videos.

If you’re not familiar with sea shanties they’re highly rhythmic songs that were commonly sung by sailors in order to keep time hoisting sails and for entertainment. If you haven’t been sailing the seven seas in search of fortune and fame (and because, you know, it’s 2021 and not 1821) you can be forgiven for not knowing what they are before this viral trend kicked off.

Speaking of the viral trend, TikTok users apparently find them very entertaining. The trend appears to have originated with a clever postman from Scotland. According to CNet, TikTok user Nathan Evans was one of the first to post a video of himself singing a shanty. It took off, garnering about a million views in December. Now, it’s got over 4.8 million and has even been incorporated into others’ songs.

@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


But there’s no need to stop there! It’s not just Evans’ video going viral. It’s a whirlwind of viral songs out there!

We’ve rounded up five fun ones to share with you, but we have a feeling once you start watching a few you’ll be lost in, well, a sea of shanties.

This Pokemon Sea Shanty

@hunterevenson16Reply to @fsh.o This was fun! #pokemon #seashanty #seashantytiktok #sing #pirate♬ original sound – Hunter Evenson

An Electro-Sea Shanty

@thats.mindblowingThanks for the support🙏 Full song in Bio. #seashanty #banger #fyp #foryou #foru #stitch #bass #duet #xyzbca #xyzcba #sound @_luke.the.voice_ @nthnevn♬ original sound – ARGULES

A Sea Shanty Written About Someone’s Dog

@puppysongsYo ho ho! It’s our pal @luckyyates’s pup, the amazing Abe Jackson! #dogsong #puppysongs #seashanty #piratemusic♬ Abe Jackson – Puppy Songs

This Accordion Version Complete with a Diving Helmet

@captainmcslugsGot me new accordion today. #fyp #accordion #pirate #drunkensailor #seashanty #diving #seaofthieves #funny♬ original sound – Captain McSlugs

And Finally, Kermit

@artmonkeyworld#duet with @jonnystewartbass A bit froggy today but wanted to add to the chorus. #seashanty #thewellerman #kermit #fyp #foryoupage #wee #♬ original sound – N A T H A N E V A N S S

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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