Baking, gaming, online shopping, dancing, and zoom hangouts. During quarantine people have been trying a multitude of things in order to make the time pass faster. Whether it be picking up a new hobby or browsing the internet for hours, people are trying to keep busy.
One of the most popular apps for Generation Z and Millennials, TikTok, has been a popular place for people to express themselves in a variety of creative ways. The users on the app will dress in cosplay, act out stories, share their personal experiences, give advice, educate, and dance.
TikTok is also a breeding ground for trends because of its popularity. Some of these trends are very simple such as new dances, while others are more bizarre. And one of the bizarre things to come out of TikTok is the popularity of the sea shanty.
A sea shanty is a type of work song that was commonly sung by sailors, fishermen, and whalers(back when that was a common profession in the 1800s give or take). Sea shanties were designed to be sung in large groups. They also served as a toll to keep everyone working in the same rhythm, meaning it would help them all work in time with each other and no one would end up lagging behind. Sea shanties were also used as a way to boost morale among shipmates, as voyages across the sea were often long and grueling.
TikTok has boosted the popularity of this genre of music; but how and why? Senior, Chess Sagastume had this to say about sea shanties, “The use of sea shanties on TikTok has become a viral trend in which creators collectively make OCs aka ‘original characters’ to follow their self-made storylines full of Dungeons and Dragon-esque adventures. It also has become a trend for LGBTQ+ community on Tik Tok to partake in what they call ‘birate’ Tik Toks. Which display their Bisexual pirate OCs in their storylines.”
Sea shanties started to gain traction on TikTok because of a trend where creators would dress up as pirates and lip sync to shanties or act out scenes they created with the songs playing in the background. It was called #piratetok. It was also very popular in the LGBTQ+ community going by the hashtags #birate and #biratetok. These hashtags where the combination of the words bisexual and pirate.
Creators eventually started doing covers of popular songs; one so creator, Nathan Evans, created his own version of one of the sea shanties that got so popular he got a record deal.
The popularity of shanties is a sudden and funny thing to happen in 2020 and 2021 but what causes such a like toward them out of the blue? We know how they got popular, but not why.
An interesting theory stated that because sea shanties were a way of passing time on long and boring voyages people are now using them to pass the long and boring time of quarantine. You also don’t have to be a good signer to sign them. They’re all about making time pass while having a bit of fun with others, which is exactly what they’re be used for right now.