#ShantyTok Explainer

Who knew 19th century whaling songs could be so fun?

If you, like the rest of world, are enthralled by the phenomenon that is #shantytok, you might enjoy this explainer video:

The Guardian also has a good piece on the story behind The Wellerman.

Wellerman’s six verses tell the epic tale of a ship, the Billy of Tea, and its crew’s battle – “for 40 days, or even more” – to land a defiant whale. With the struggle ongoing at the shanty’s end, “the Wellerman makes his regular call, to encourage the Captain, crew and all”.

Archer suggests that it is the shanty’s “cheerful energy and hopeful outlook” – in contrast to other more “dreary” whaling songs – that has led to Wellerman’s rediscovery on social media.

“My guess is that the Covid lockdowns have put millions of young [people] into a similar situation that young whalers were in 200 years ago: confined for the foreseeable future, often far from home, running out of necessities, always in risk of sudden death, and spending long hours with no communal activities to cheer them up.”

ShantyTok is exactly the sort of wholesomeness we all need right now.