Home to lip-syncs, dance challenges and comedy sketches, social media platform TikTok is now an epicentre of ‘shanty renaissance’; a phenomenon made viral by Scottish-born Nathan Evans.
Who is Nathan Evans?
Former postman Nathan Evans is a 26-year-old folk singer whose rendition of ‘Wellerman’ made him internet famous in December 2020. Depicting a whaling crew waiting for “sugar and tea and rum” to arrive from Australia, Nathan first uploaded his vocals onto TikTok where a different user called ‘Luke the Voice’ added a bass harmony cultivating an “online frenzy”.
Why is ‘Wellerman’ so successful?
On the face of it, a sea shanty is the strangest possible pick for this year’s new music trend. Historically uncool and resiliently depictive of ‘hard times’, seas shanties are unifying, survivalist songs designed to transform a large group of people into one collective body – all working together to keep the ship afloat. When compared to what so many are experiencing throughout the pandemic, ‘Wellerman’ has cultivated its audience by offsetting “division and frustration” with a sense of common interest and uplifting humility – similar to what South Africa’s ‘Jerusalema Dance Challenge’ did throughout 2020.
The song’s success went beyond social media by topping the ‘Big Top 40’ music chart in January, as well as the ‘Official UK Singles Chart’ in March. Both occasions were Evans’s first number one.
Who has taken part?
Backed by the likes of Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber, to-date millions of social media users have looked to ‘Wellerman’s’ jaunty soundtrack to produce a montage of dance and lip-syncing – but the latest collective to interpret the song is Templemore Care Home in Northampton.
Filmed entirely by staff as a sequel to the success of the home's ‘Jerusalema Dance Challenge’, Templemore adopted a pirate theme to once again toe-tap throughout the home and instil a collective sense of togetherness.
“Similar to that of our Jersualema video, Wellerman was a huge hit,” said Templemore Care Home Engagement Lead Ines Lochmele.
She continued: “For some, the song was new, but after a few plays, it really lifted our spirits. Doing something home-wide is really rewarding; yes it’s a bit of fun, but the wider thinking behind this is to bring people together and celebrate the good we do day-in day-out."
How do I take part?
Simply download the TikTok app, sing, dance or create something unique, then share on other social media platforms using the tags #Wellerman or #WellermanTikTok.