Whats in fact occurring is the convergence of a number of forces that push specific niche content in front of a massive quantity of eyeballs. TikTok is full of unconventional subcultures, certainly more unconventional than any Ive ever discovered. Its algorithm uses AI that is trained to identify trending videos combined with– most importantly– a sprinkle of pure randomness, which suggests that sometimes those videos wind up going enormously viral.
But recalling, I should have understood that this was specifically the sort of thing that the internet would descend upon and hold on to with a ferocity greater than a swashbuckling sailor grasping an oar in a mid-Atlantic storm. I must have had the ability to envision the tweet with actually hundreds of thousands of likes stating “SeaShantyTok keeps improving” or stating 2021 the “year of the sea shanty” all because a video had actually gone viral on TikTok, which is barely amazing on a platform where random videos are constantly going viral.
The thing about viral sea shanties is that there is actually absolutely nothing to describe at all. There is no need to square sea shanty TikTok with our current political moment or pretend that there was something unavoidable about the appeal of sea shanties in early January 2021.
It would be charming if sea shanties did actually conserve us, wouldnt it? To avoid sounding like the worlds most significant curmudgeon, I do believe it is generally good viewing people discover and enjoy something they wouldnt have otherwise or collaborate with each other across the internet (the video where a lot of individuals sing Smash Mouths “All Star” in sea shanty cadence is amusing), however none of that is special to sea shanties.
I are sorry for to notify you: They are not.
Ill leave you with the chorus to the Wellerman song, which one might argue is also a metaphor for discovering hope on the internet. Perhaps one day, after our work is done, things will improve, and we can all get the hell out of here.
You can change the headline “Sea shanties are here to save us” with actually any “heartfelt” trend that came out of TikTok last year. “The Ratatouille musical is coming to conserve us” was an actual heading from December. Did any of these trends last beyond a few weeks?
Obviously, everybody are people whose job is to translate the internet, however I pick up that theres some tiredness happening on the customer side too. When Elon Musk, the richest guy in human history and terminal victim of publishing disease, tweeted about sea shanties, it was then astutely compared to the Dennys Twitter account killing memes in the 2010s. Individuals get irritated at this stuff. Theres simply excessive of it.
” Um, it makes overall sense were all into sea shanties now,” declared Vulture, the factor being “they are unifying, survivalist songs, created to transform a huge group of people into one collective body, all collaborating to keep the ship afloat.” Few went as far to elevate a handful of TikToks to unearned significance than the Washington Post, whose (surely semi-ironic) headline was “Sea shanties are here to conserve us.”
It ought to have been easy to envision the breathless coverage that followed as soon as the sea shanty videos had made the jump from TikTok to Twitter, where a far greater number of adult journalists consume news. Of course, all of the websites were attempting to discuss why a random New Zealand sea shanty called “Wellerman” was suddenly stuck in everyones head. “Sea shanties have actually taken control of TikTok. Heres why,” wrote CNET. The New York Times actioned in to correct us (actually, they are “whaling tunes”) while the New Yorker did what the New Yorker does best: Spell words strangely (what the hell is “sea-chantey?”).
That was, till two weeks earlier, when a genuine, live sea shanty stumbled upon my TikTok “For You” page. The video featured a man singing a tune whose lyrics I could barely construct out due to his thick Scottish accent however was definitely saying something about a ship and a coast. Another guy had included a number of lines of tenor and baritone to balance with the song. It sounded good in a kind of brain-tingly method, but my very first thought was more like this is the dorkiest thing Ive ever seen and so scrolled past.
This is why phenomena like sea shanties keep occurring over and over again and why none of it ultimately matters. As Kyle Chayka and Taylor Lorenz discussed on Twitter, “The quarantine-era web just makes us cycle through unknown niches of culture much faster and quicker,” and “Its sort of simply some dumb inconsequential/non-controversial piece of culture that everybody can compose up/talk about.” Baffler editor Jess Bergman tweeted, If I see one more explainer about sea shanties on the teen video app I am going to go postal.”
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The most likely chain of events was this: Someone was revealed a particularly appealing video of several people singing a sea shanty and liked it, so it was then revealed to more people who likewise liked it, and then somebody liked it enough to publish it on Twitter, where it went much more viral due to the fact that Twitter is the specific audience who would look at this and resemble, “Wow, sea shanties are going viral on TikTok, how quirky and uplifting!” Then a bunch of reporters like me saw it and knew that it would produce good material on our websites, because readers and audiences like viewing things that are novel but also familiar, especially right now, when our brains are exhausted from consistent stimulation but desperate for a lot more of it.
A number of months back, when Spotify was revealing each of its users their most popular tunes and artists of 2020, I saw a meme that was made to look like somebodys most listened-to genre was “1800s sea shanties.” I chuckled and re-posted it to my Instagram Story, believing, ” Sea shanty, now thats a term you dont hear every day” and forgot about it.
Quickly might the Wellerman comeTo bring us sugar and tea and rumOne day, when the tonguin is doneWell take our leave and go
TikTok in the news
One Last Thing
If you have not seen Kansas state Rep. Christina Haswoods TikTok of herself getting ready to be sworn into the Kansas House of Representatives in standard Navajo regalia, I do not know what to tell you except watch it if you would like to feel pleasure!
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That was, till two weeks back, when a genuine, live sea shanty came throughout my TikTok “For You” page. It must have been easy to visualize the breathless protection that followed when the sea shanty videos had made the dive from TikTok to Twitter, where a far greater number of adult reporters take in news. “Sea shanties have taken over TikTok. You can change the headline “Sea shanties are here to conserve us” with actually any “heartwarming” trend that came out of TikTok last year. To prevent sounding like the worlds most significant curmudgeon, I do think it is generally good viewing individuals find and take pleasure in something they wouldnt have otherwise or collaborate with each other throughout the internet (the video where a lot of individuals sing Smash Mouths “All Star” in sea shanty cadence is amusing), however none of that is distinct to sea shanties.