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If the sea is calling to you, these days it might be through TikTok . Although the video-based social networking platform typically brings to mind anything from dance challenges to lip-syncing and observational humor, the latest trend to wash up on shore is singing sea shanties from centuries past. The internet has dubbed this nautical moment #ShantyTok.
Since roughly the end of December, TikTok has seen a major boost in interest in videos of people not just singing sea shanties, but crafting impressive, a cappella arrangements of the tunes traditionally sung by crews on merchant sailing ships. Thanks to the platform's capacity for collaboration, folks don't have to be on the same ship to sing together. They don't have to be on a ship at all. So far, videos tagged with #seashanty have more than 1 billion views. And that number continues to grow as word spreads. On Tuesday, Google Trends tweeted that "sea shanties" had been searched more than at any other time in the platform's history. Spotify says more than 12,000 sea shanty playlists have come into being since the end…
Luke Taylor joined TikTok as a lark, to pass the time during quarantine. Now, the Garnet Valley High graduate is lending his basso profundo voice to the country’s latest craze.
Luke Taylor was 17 when his voice dropped from a normal teenage register to a deep basso profundo. “I freaked out my family,” he recalls over the phone from his home in Thornton.
Basso profundo, also known as contrabass, is considered the deepest possible vocal register. None of his other close relatives — not his brother, not his dad — had such deep voices, and they were all a little surprised by such a big change. “I looked at old recordings of myself and realized how deep my voice had gotten,” Taylor says. Imagine the quintessential movie-trailer voice. Taylor, who still sports a round baby face, sounds like that, but deeper.
In high school at Garnet Valley, the local teen sang in choir and performed in musicals, but given the current shutdowns across the region last year, he lacked the in-person audience to show off his vocal chops. To pass the time…
It started on Dec. 27, when a Scottish singer named Nathan Evans posted a song on the video sharing app TikTok. Gazing sternly into the camera and beating his fist rhythmically on the back of a guitar, he sang: "There once was a ship that put to sea/ The name of the ship was the Billy of Tea."
The song, which is almost agonizingly catchy, is called "The Wellerman." Evans tagged the video #seashanty. The next day, a TikTok user with the handle @_luke.the.voice_ added an exquisitely deep, rumbly bassline. The song picked up steam as more and more people joined in, filming themselves adding harmonies and instrumental parts: fiddle, tuba, electric guitar.
Soon, the internet was in the throes of a full-blown sea shanty obsession. Kermit the Frog made a video; "All Star" by Smashmouth was transformed into a sea shanty; countless think pieces were penned. There was even a remix.
That's when David Coffin, a folk singer from Gloucester, started getting emails.
"People reaching out to me. 'Have you seen this?'" Coffin recalls. "And I mean, I had heard of TikTok, and that was it."
Ever since a video of Coffin leading a crowd in song at…