Whether or not you’re into roleplaying, it’s inevitable to have imagining-I’m-in-an-alternative-universe-where-pandemics-don’t-exist on your hobby list. One fantasy that has captured the imaginations of many comes in the form of ShantyTok.
The trend resonates well with Gen Z and millennials who have fully surrendered themselves to the joys of IRL fantasy aesthetics. Considering the rise of dark academia, swampcore and other otherwordly styles, getting into ShantyTok isn’t such a big leap for many. It whisks us away to foreign waters, commiserates with us and reminds us that singing with a bunch of strangers can be fun.
Here’s the original that made my tiktok blow UUUUUP!! .. hope you enjoy it!, I also write original music and have music on Spotify etc!!, search NathanEvanss on all streaming services!
Love, Nathan ❤️ pic.twitter.com/JE90UrbtTI
— NathanEvanss (@NathanEvanss) January 2, 2021
ShantyTok (not related to local rapper Shanti Dope) is a TikTok trend that has users sharing renditions of sea shanties, or more specifically the sea shanty titled “Soon May The Wellerman Come.” Booming and moving, the TikTok chain that has been making the rounds in our timelines is quite possibly the best thing that has happened in 2021 (okay, maybe second to the COVID-19 vaccine procurements). More than just an earworm, bellowing “Soon may the Wellerman come / And bring us sugar and tea and rum. / One day, when the whalin’ is done, / We’ll take our leave and go” along with other TikTokers is the hot girl sh*t™, cathartic cure-all for the malaise felt by anyone who’s ever called themself very online™. Go on try it and see if it doesn’t fill you with the fiery spirit of an 18th-century sea captain. It both comforts and makes me feel like an unstoppable force.
We owe the birth of ShantyTok to Scottish singer and postman Nathan Evans, who posted the video that started it all back in December. It comes as no surprise that the TikTok chain has grown complex, with a ton of voices and even a violinist accompanying Evans in a deliciously layered virtual performance. Another ShantyTok favorite is artist David Carr’s contribution featuring a committed Kermit.
— David Carr (@artmonkeyworld) January 13, 2021
In an interview with BBC, Evans said about the resurgence of interest in shanties: “Sea shanties, when they originally were sung, they were sung to get everybody involved and to keep them in time with their work. So I think it’s the fact that…anybody can join in with a shanty.”
So you’re telling me that my overwhelming love for ShantyTok is caused by a desire to still be part of something under the pandemic and not because that smooth bass combo is a velvet cushion that can protect me from all the evil that surrounds me? Can’t it be both?
John Archer of Folksong.org.nz wrote about the history and meaning behind “Soon May The Wellerman Come” for people like me who binge Genius’ “Verified” series. He says that Wellermen was the nickname given to crew members on ships owned by the Weller Brothers of Sydney as far back as 1833. The company supplied whaling stations in New Zealand—if you’re wondering if “tounging” in the lyrics is about smooching and more, it actually means cutting blubber. (Yarf. We need to save the whales.)
ShantyTok is taking the wellerman to increasingly more amazing levels! pic.twitter.com/9Bouf1IEN3
— Sly lil´ Vix ~🦊 Foxxie (@EidolonFox) January 12, 2021
But despite the awfully unsexy tale it carries, it’s hard to deny how sonically rousing it is. It’s also hard not to imagine being stuck at sea with your fellow crewmates as you all wistfully think about coming back to the warmth and safety of your home. Which, hey, is kind of what we’re doing as we continue to hold a semi-vigil for the return of a corona-free world.
If being anxiety-free and empathetic are some of the conceptually sexiest things in 2021, ShantyTok is for sexy people.
Photo screengrabbed from “Shanghaied” on the Spongebob Squarepants YouTube channel
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