Sea shanties show TikTok is the global proving grounds for culture

If you’ve gone to social networks recently—and certainly you haven’t due to the fact that we’re all keeping excellent on our Brand-new Year’s resolutions—you’ve most likely come across a sea shanty.

For those of you who don’t understand what I’m speaking about, a fast wrap-up. The sea shanty occurred midway through the last millennium as a type of work-tune for sailors to while away the time, create common bonds, and usually avoid going ridiculous. Then a couple months earlier, a 26-year-old Scottish postman called Nathan Evans sang a performance on TikTok that made the world ended up being re-obsessed.

The sea shanty type is especially fit to TikTok. The youth-craze app lets individuals develop “duets,” a function that joins a video post to one currently playing. In Sept., TikTok revamped the function, causing a renaissance of collective imagination. Not long after, Evans published his efficiency of “Soon May the Wellerman Come,” which immediately went viral and triggered a flood of duets, remixes, and copies.

For anybody questioning, “the Wellerman” describes a staff member of The Weller Brothers, an Aussie merchant clothing that controlled New Zealand ports in the 1830s. The vocalists of the shanty are craving a resupply of staples for their trip; specifically, sugar, tea, and rum. You can think about the tune to be, in spirit, a maritime predecessor to “The Wells Fargo Wagon” in the 1957 musical The Music Guy. (Side note: Picture being that delighted to see somebody from Wells Fargo today?)

The sea shanty’s revival might appear random, however it makes good sense. In addition to being completely fit for TikTok’s duet innovation, the category fits the minute. Throughout the lockdowns and quarantines of the pandemic, individuals are starved for human connection. What much better method to discover uniformity than to provide one’s voice to the hauntingly gorgeous consistency of nautical folk a cappella?

(There’s something to be stated, too, for the shared human experience of participating in social networks drudgery in the hopes of landing a huge, viral rating, echoing the grim lotto of 19th century whaling endeavors.)

Individuals who find out to make use of the tricks of mass interactions and tap the zeitgeist gain unique powers. (See, previously: @realDonaldTrump.) Today, it so occurs that mobile video-sharing software application from ByteDance, a Chinese corporation, is among the most substantial worldwide proving premises for that wonder of a feedback loop we call culture.

Lest you believe the sea shanty’s newly found appeal is a fluke, I may point you to the zany genius of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, among the all-time musical greats. In the ‘60s, Wilson refined the “wall of sound” method notoriously associated with the late hitmaker and founded guilty killer Phil Spector, who passed away in prison this weekend. That groundbreaking design discovered devoted fans through its typically fulsome reverberation, a quality that played well on radios and jukeboxes, the then-dominant audio-broadcasting innovation.

After you’ve ended up with the Wellerman, provide “Sloop John B,” The Beach Boys’ own sea shanty adjustment, a listen. Real genius is ageless.

Robert Hackett

Twitter: @rhhackett

robert.hackett@fortune.com

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.