Why TikTok (and everyone) sings Sea Chanteys


The monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything that happens in the world of WIRED culture, from movies to memes, from TV to Twitter.

Earlier this week, it seemed inevitable that this column had something to do with President Trump’s second impeachment. In a week when Republicans were assimilate the dismissal of the president to a “cancellation»And saying that Twitter starts Trump was similar to censorship, it was tempting to weigh. (If free speech is stifled, how is it possible that this is all I hear about in all the major media outlets around the world? How? ‘Or’ What?) But I digressed. Why? Chanteys of the sea.

To keep everyone in the know, the chanteys of the sea are the smiling woman Distracted buddy meme– they distract your attention, no matter what should be occupying your time. Coming from merchant navy ships in the 18th century, the songs – intended to help sailors in their tasks –started to take off on TikTok after 26-year-old Scottish postman named Nathan Evans posted a video of himself sing a song called “Soon May the Wellerman Come” (sometimes simply titled “Wellerman”) in the last week of 2020. It has been dubbed thousands of times since and has become an online obsession. (If you have not yet scrolled r / wonders you really should.)

Why? Why, in the middle of a Politics crisis in the United States and a global pandemic, has everyone turned to songs that sound like what the Decemberists were trying to be? The conclusion that most people have come to is that sea chanteys are a respite. At a time when people need to be far apart, coming together in a song – even on TikTok – feels like a time of conviviality or socially distant karaoke. (God, I miss karaoke.) “These are unifying, survivalist songs, designed to transform a large group of people into one collective body.” Kathryn vanarendonk written for Vulture, “All are working together to keep the ship afloat.” Likewise, as noted by Amanda Petrusich in The New Yorker, “It seems possible that after nearly a year of loneliness and collective self-banishment, and overwhelming restrictions on travel and adventure, the chantey could give a brief glimpse into a different way of life, more exciting, a world of sea air and pirates and grogs, many people singing in unison, to be free to boldly take off for what Melville called the “real places”, the unspoiled vistas that cannot be located on any map. (As for the spelling differences between “slum” and “chantey,” your guess is as good as mine.)

These things are undoubtedly true. After nearly a year of quarantine and fear, having something simple that you can sing about even if you’re half-deaf is welcome. The unironic embrace of something that feels old and ethereal also fits in perfectly with TikTok’s spirit. But at the same time, collective cultural consumption has been one of the hallmarks of the pandemic, a Obsession with King tiger at “WAP. “ Not to mention, the players were singing vshanteys during the game Sea of ​​Thieves long before the pandemic struck. Yes, part of that popularity came thanks to the Longest Johns, the a cappella folk group that released a version of “Wellerman” in 2018, but still.



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