Postman Nathan Evans is poised to enter the top 10 on the Official Singles Chart with his viral sea shanty Wellerman.
The song, which has been a smash hit on TikTok, is set to be the highest new entry on the chart, according to the official first look, based on preliminary sales and early streaming reports.
Evans, 26, from Airdrie, Scotland, has quit his job as a postman after kick-starting a new viral craze of sea-shantying on TikTok (dubbed ShantyTok) and signing a record deal with Polydor Records.
“Back in the day when the shanties were sung, it was to bring everybody together, to keep them all in time, to keep the morale high”, Evans said previously.
Issue of the day: The return of the sea shanty
“Especially in this time when everybody’s stuck at home, they’re doing their remote working – they can join in, and it kind of brings everybody together.
“So I think it’s just kind of brought it into this day and age. It makes it feel like you’re all united. Especially seeing how creative everybody can be with it.”
Wellerman is a cover of Bristol group The Longest Johns’ 2018 song, which also entered the Official Top 40 just last week, debuting at Number 37.
Evans has released his own take on the shanty, plus a dance remix produced by 220 Kid and Billen Ted, which is tipped to enter the charts at number four.
Wellerman is the most downloaded song of the week so far, two days into the tracking week, the Official Charts Company said.
“What on earth?”
Meanwhile, a member of a 32-year-old shanty singing group has said the recent maritime viral trend will “do nothing but good for our genre of music”.
The Sheringham Shantymen in North Norfolk have been keeping the tradition alive for decades since forming in 1988, and one member said he welcomes the trend, despite being confused initially.
“I have to say I was a little bit like ‘what on earth?’” John, 52 – who did not want his surname included – said.
“I actually then uploaded the app onto my phone. Yeah I think it’s great, I’m amazed at how it’s taken off. And I’m amazed at the celebrity faces that have gone with it, the likes of Gary Barlow, that’s got to be a good thing.
“It helps to widen the general perception of sea shanties, which takes away that old fogey bit of it and makes it much more acceptable. I love it, I think it’s great! I think it’s going to do nothing but good for our genre of music.”
The Sheringham Shantymen perform private and public gigs, raising money for charities and singing a range of old and new versions of shanties.
The Sheringham Shantymen, a group of singers from North Norfolk (The Sheringham Shantymen)
An international sea shanty festival, meanwhile, takes place in Falmouth regularly, attracting “in excess of 65,000 visitors to see over 70 shanty groups” normally, according to their website.
But while the success of the trend among young people may come as a surprise to some, John said that his group’s experience indicates all ages enjoy the genre.
“We had a workshop a couple of years ago in Norfolk and it was an after-school type activity,” he said.
“We went along and there seemed to be a lot of very bored 14, 15, 16-year-olds, and by the time the second song had started they had tuned into our wavelength and they had a whale of an afternoon.
“Today’s youngsters are tomorrow’s shantymen.”
John said of the young shanty star “I wish him the best of luck,” and added “I would like to be able to sing like that!”