Hashtag: seashanty
January 8, 2021 10:10 AM   Subscribe

A small way in which 2021 is actually better than 2020, is that TikTok's new add-on feature allows you to take a video of a dude singing a sea shanty and add your own voice (or instrument) to it. (All twitter links)
posted by MartinWisse (32 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful! My favourite (feminist) sea shanty I’ve heard on tik tok is twiddles.
posted by saucysault at 10:54 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]

(Wipes a tear away) man I wish I was in Sherbrooke now.
posted by sol at 11:11 AM on January 8 [21 favorites]

Outrage! They're going to put Great Big Sea out of business!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:01 PM on January 8

For someone who doesn't know anything about social media, why did TikTok overtake all the previous platforms? The same question for OnlyFans? I mean, Cam stuff has been around decades, yet OnlyFans jumped ahead of everything else and became this sort of cultural milestone.
posted by Beholder at 12:08 PM on January 8

This is fantastic. Looking forward to the TikTok Thomas Tallis channel.
posted by thivaia at 12:14 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]

There's also this kid that swallowed a fog horn, and layered his voice onto the wellerman shanty a few weeks ago....
posted by larthegreat at 12:16 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]

There's also this kid that swallowed a fog horn, and layered his voice onto the wellerman shanty a few weeks ago....

This was my first exposure to it, which my partner sent to me with, "HOW DO YOU DO THAT WITH YOUR VOICE?!"
posted by brook horse at 12:35 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]

“Gentle thiccness”
posted by schmod at 12:48 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]

This is the first time in my life I've wanted to know what the hell TikTok is. How do I play? I can't sing. Where do I find songs?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:37 PM on January 8

ah yeah, the foghorn kid. I've been looking for that version for DAYS now to show somebody.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:26 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

> Beholder: "why did TikTok overtake all the previous platforms?"

I wouldn't necessarily say that it "overtook" the previous platforms but its rise surely was quite rapid, even by modern internet standards. There were probably a number of factors but, imho, one under-rated factor for its rapid adoption was a seemingly very small but actually very big choice in its design that set it apart from all the other platforms. On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, the default interface shows you things from the accounts/people that you follow. You can click over onto another part of the interface to see things that the platform thinks you might be interested in (e.g.: IG's Discover page) but haven't necessarily subscribed to. TikTok inverted this. The default interface on TikTok is the equivalent of IG's Discover page and you actually have to swipe over to a different part to see a feed of nothing but the accounts you've followed.

Now, you might think "ah, so it's because TikTok shows a wider variety or a different mix of stuff by default is why it got so popular?" I would say, "maybe". But there's another angle. On the IG/FB/TWT platforms, if you want to reach a lot of people, you need to have a lot of subscribers. The main way around that is if you happen to get referenced (e.g.: retweeted on Twitter, linked in an IG story, etc...) by another account with a lot of subscribers, but that still depends on some account somewhere with a huge follower count. This, again, is a function of the default interfaces. However, on TikTok, the mysterious algorithm they use to populate the default feeds is what holds the bulk of the power. That means that it's not infrequent to see some random account with only a handful of followers happen to get millions of views on one of their videos; what happened in those cases is that somehow the TikTok algorithm decided that millions of people should see that. The opposite can happen too where an account with zillions of followers suddenly sees their views dry up despite having zillions of followers. Because of the default interface choices, those follower counts were not what was primarily driving the views, it was the TikTok algorithm.

So, basically, at some point in 2019, once TikTok started getting more public attention (which itself is its own story, involving YouTube "cringe compilations") and people started playing around with it, different creators realized that they could hit huge view counts without having a huge follower count and started flocking to it, thus providing the content fuel that makes a platform appealing to audiences. Of course, the quality of TikTok's mystery algorithm is definitely also a contributing factor (e.g.: if it only showed vids that people weren't interested in, it was never going to take off), but I maintain that it was the default interface that put the TikTok algorithm (rather than the social network, like the other platforms did) in the driver's seat that was a real key decision.

Also, lots of people loved Vine and TikTok is basically Vine 2.0.
posted by mhum at 3:20 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]

> If only I had a penguin...: "How do I play?"

If you do actually want to play, the feature on TikTok is called "Duet". When you see a video you'd like to sing/play along with, click on the little right-pointing-arrow icon on the right side, then record a video with the Duet feature. I believe the feature actually dates back to when TikTok was in its previous incarnation as musical.ly which was originally designed to do lip-synch singalong videos.

Also, you don't even have to duet with other people. You can duet yourself, like this woman did 12 times over to make a neat little solo harmonized 12 days of Xmas.
posted by mhum at 5:15 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]

I've been looping these all day, and there are a couple other standouts. First, another from the foghorn kid _luke.the.voice_.
The second one I'd call out is more treble layers on the wellerman chain.
The additional background noise kinda bums me out on that one, I'd love to hear what all these talented folks could do with better conditions, equipment, etc. But still a joy to listen to!
posted by WacoKid at 5:27 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]

Is it all the same song? Aren't there other songs?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:23 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]

What a hoot!
posted by Coaticass at 7:03 PM on January 8

To nit pick: this is not a new feature. Back when it was still called Musical.ly (yeah something called “TikTok” was already in China, but the merger with Musical.ly brought the name to rest of the world), playing a video and then singing along to it (they called or duets maybe?) was the main selling feature of the platform.

"why did TikTok overtake all the previous platforms?"

Musical.ly signed early deals with lots of rights holders, so there was never a period of time where copyright notices took content down.

Also, 2-3 years ago, the users stared uploading their own sounds and recording jokes/dances to go along with them, and then those sounds could be shared. Other users then could refine whatever joke/dance you created using the same sound. In fact, hundreds or thousands of people doing the same exact joke was encouraged.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s like if 1000 people did a standup comedy set using the same material, one after another, until the literal perfect form of that material was obtained. And then new users to the platform are shown that perfect standup set, which gets them on board with joining the collaboration.

My then 8 year old daughter was really into it 3 years ago, and I told everyone I saw it was going to be the next big thing. And it was! Expect, it evolved into something completely different! As it got extremely popular it changed into the second coming of Vine, which obviously is just what the people wanted.
posted by sideshow at 7:22 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]

My parents used to take us to the sea shanty sings at the SF Maritime Museum. I was teen girl into new wave music, but i also loved singing shanties at these events.
posted by vespabelle at 7:50 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]

"I'll push him into a hot pot of oil"

Whaling is the foundational activity that brought white people tto Aotearoa New Zealand. And "tonguing" is not the saucy activity you might think but the hideous job of butchering the whale.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:16 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]

Oh and a billy is a pot you boil water in over a fire. Good NZ and Australian English. Billy tea is the incredibly strong, stewed, tea you get when you make tea in... a billy. Which of course you would.

(Roasted coffee goes stale, roasting green beans is a pain, but you can take black tea on a long journey and it will keep forever).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:19 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]

Is it all the same song? Aren't there other songs?

I think that is the main innovation of TikTok that helps nobodies get an audience. You can reuse someone else's audio and remix it with your video, and lots of people keep watching clips based on one popular audio. Great way to find new folk to follow.
posted by bitslayer at 3:01 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

There are other sea shanties on #seashanty TikTok--this video featuring another song by shanty singers The Longest Johns, who recorded the original version of The Wellerman, popped up as my first Tok on New Year's morning and was quite a glorious start to the year.

It's interesting to think about what has made TikTok so popular, so fast. mhum's observations about the foregrounding of The Algorithm are certainly in play; I personally feel like it allows TikTok to always feel both customized and "fresh"--not just seeing the same accounts over and over, getting exposed to new content creators.

The app tools themselves also seem to help it achieve the apotheosis of meme culture, where users can remix the underlying components in so many different ways. So, for example, with Wellerman, as best I can tell, the first wave of popularity used the original audio, with users just lip synching and using the app's cloning tools as the audio switches from solo verse to harmonized chorus (in conjunction with the TikTok aesthetic of building a joke around the audio by transposing the context/meaning via pasted-over text captions). Then the meme starts branching: you have someone who recorded their own acoustic version and people using the "duet" feature to fill in the harmonies. You get a hybridization of another existing TikTok meme of splicing in the intro to Gangster's Paradise onto an unrelated audio. You even get marginally tech-competent oldsters such as myself playing on the words of the song.

For me it's this endless remixing/morphing/evolution of memes that is the real fascination of the Tickity Tocketies.
posted by drlith at 8:22 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Not to derail, but TikTok's appeal goes far beyond aurally pleasing niche of acappella layering. Much in the same way there are different "pockets" of Twitter (eg Black Twitter), there's cosplay TikTok, therapy TikTok, politics TikTok, acro/circus TikTok, and on and on. Due to the effects of the UI and algorithm that drlith mentioned, these aren't pockets the user has to seek out, the algorithm magically finds out what you like and gives you more in that pocket. (It's not magic - the algorithm just counts how long you watch something - if you swipe past something, eg right-wing politics, quickly, it stops showing you more of that, and looks for different content that you *do* like.) The other part, especially for a fledgling service, is content. TikTok encourages all users to make content, but because it's video+audio, their effects/filters lends themselves to being the focus of content in a way that stills on Instagram can't do, which helps encourage content creation (eg the time warp effect). This helps seed and continue the platform as content creators naturally tire of creating content and move on to other things in their life. There are already professional TikTok content creation houses so it's quickly become a big business.
posted by fragmede at 7:14 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Here's a TikTok that explains the terms referenced in the Wellerman song, in case you are curious.
posted by ananci at 1:08 PM on January 10

posted by vibratory manner of working

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:20 PM on January 11

There's a house remix now!
posted by yasaman at 10:27 PM on January 11

Made it to WaPo. Does that mean it's no longer trendy like it would in it were in the NYT Style section?

"What’s your favorite sea shanty?... If this strikes you as an odd question to pose in 2021, then you haven’t spent much time online this week."
I think there's been other stuff going on this week.
posted by MtDewd at 1:25 PM on January 14

This short segment on Radio New Zealand about The Wellerman’s TikTok popularity is delightful. The presenter goes through the evolution from confused and skeptical to “ah yeah” that everyone else goes through when first hearing about this.
posted by Kattullus at 2:12 AM on January 15

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