August 2, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

TikTok sea-shanty star scores a record deal with ‘Wellerman’

The Wellerman has indeed come for newly minted TikTok star Nathan Evans — or, more appropriately, a record company has come for “The Wellerman.”

Evans, whose performance of the traditional work tune started the sea-shanty craze on the video social-media platform, announced his deal with great joy Thursday.

“Ohhhhhh my God. See how I was a postman on Friday. I have just signed to the biggest record label in the world. I have just signed a deal with Polydor Records. I’ve done it,” he said on TikTok, where he uses the name Nathan Evanss.

“I’ve done it. It’s done. It’s done. And I’m releasing a single. I’m releasing a single. I’m releasing a single,” the clearly excited singer said, right before he walked off camera to get himself some champagne to celebrate.

In a follow-up post, the clearly overwhelmed Scottish singer urged followers to go wherever they could to listen to the single, the audio for which he uploaded Friday on YouTube.

“I cannot believe it … ,” Evans said. “We’re here. We made it.”

Polydor publicists did not respond Friday to a request for confirmation and further details. The label is owned by Universal Music Group.

The 26-year-old had been uploading singing-performance videos since joining the platform in March 2020, including Scottish folk songs. His first sea shanty came in July in answer to a request for “Leave Her Johnny.”

“I’d never really listened to sea shanties before,” he told the Washington Post earlier this month. “I went and found it on YouTube, and I thought it was really good.”

In August he was talking about his new pages on iTunes and Spotify, where he was selling songs for 79 cents apiece. He started a YouTube channel. Then on Dec. 27, he posted his take on “Soon May the Wellerman Come.”

The sea shanty went viral, hitting more than 8 million views at the time this story was published.

Users posted EDM remixes, metal remixes, a cappella arrangements with multiple singers. “Baby Shark” and “WAP” were sea-shantied. #ShantyTok has been Quite A Thing.

James Revell Carr, a maritime-song scholar and ethnomusicology professor at the University of Kentucky, recently explained sea shanties’ viral appeal to The Times.

“They’re kind of bawdy. They’re kind of risqué. There’s something for the kid in you to get titillated by. And they’re just energetic — they’re used for working and so they’re meant to pump you up and get you pulling on that line or heaving that capstan around,” Carr said.

Apparently, lots of TikTok users have capstans handy?

The original and dance-remix versions of “Wellerman” are now available to stream or for purchase on many platforms, including Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.