Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

Nathan Evans – Wellerman (Sea Shanty / 220 KID x Billen Ted Remix)

And it’s time for us to leave her…


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[2.73]

Katie Gill: My pedantic asshole self spent the entire sea shanty hype phase yelling “the Wellerman brought you sugar and tea and rum because they didn’t pay actual wages! They just paid in goods!!”, as well as yelling “for Christ’s sake, theater kids, expand your sea shanty/folk song horizons and listen to a single Stan Rogers song!!!”. Anyway, this is just a hype and clout-chasing club remix that kind of ignores the point of sea shanties, really makes me wonder who the target audience is because it’s not like anybody’s getting crunk at the cast parties right now, and will inevitably be dated as hell by the start of February when all the quarantined high schoolers discover something like, I don’t know, Loreena McKennitt and make follow-the-leader meme TikToks to “The Mummer’s Dance.”
[5]

Aaron Bergstrom: I want to put myself on record as being firmly pro-novelty, pro-whimsy, and pro-any-fleeting-moment-of-joy-in-this-fallen-world. “Wellerman” seems like a feel-good story: unassuming postal worker in Glasgow kicks off a global sea shanty craze, signs a record deal, finds fame and fortune (if he’s since been Milkshake Duck’d, please don’t tell me). The original version is probably a [4]. I have no objection to its existence. That said, this version, the “Sea Shanty / 220 KID x Billen Ted Remix” is an abomination. It is “Cotton Eye Joe” for people who are still gleefully throwing superspreader parties because we “can’t let the virus control our lives.” It is commoditized anti-music. If I hear this even one time in a post-pandemic world, we have failed as a society.
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Jeffrey Brister: This is a bit, right? It’s not like someone would earnestly create a song that sounds like SpongeBob did a few bumps and decided to break quarantine protocol and go out to the club. No one could ever hear the original and decide that it would be better if it was an overly aggressive EDM song. Someone’s taking the piss. Because that’s the only way I can imagine something this tasteless and terrible being put out into the world.
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Harlan Talib Ockey: As a concept, this feels like such an exercise in cynicism; an old folk song is going viral on TikTok, so of course we have to make a dance remix of it. What could’ve been a joyless attempt to render an offbeat meme more socially acceptable, however, is saved by its unflinching willingness to lean into what made “Wellerman” special in the first place. Evans’ vocals are not only left intact, but centered to the point that almost every other aspect of the production is directly mimicking their melody. This totally dominates the structure; the closest thing we get to an instrumental break are periodic echoes by a delightfully jaunty accordion. The vocoder solely sneaks in subtly towards the end, heightening the collective sing-along experience rather than sucking the drama out of it. To be clear, I really appreciate it when the Internet’s weirder and nerdier impulses are allowed to stay that way. I can see why this version would go viral too.
[7]

Samson Savill de Jong: I want to start off with making it clear I’m 100% in favour of the Sea Shanty meme, and think it’s the best thing TikTok has produced to date. This remix is atrocious, stripping the shanty of everything that made it great for the grand purpose of slapping possibly the most generic EDM beat that I’ve ever heard on it. This smacks of the same desperate attitude that led club DJs across the land to put a beat underneath “Someone Like You” so they could include the popular thing in a context for which it was never suited. Except we’re not even going out dancing right now, so this literally serves no purpose. 
[0]

Rodrigo Pasta: Do we really have to EDM-ify every mild trend out there? What is this, 2012 or something?
[1]

Katherine St Asaph: What do you expect from a generation raised on Pirates of the Caribbean, the SpongeBob theme, high school choirs and their stock TBB arrangements, and this vintage 2019 meme? What do you think would come out of a generation with a perpetual longing to escape from social media and Algebra II to yon imagined old-timey cottages or small farms or whaling boats, no matter how much they sucked — indeed, produced songs about how much they sucked? What is the natural product of a platform designed to spread songs among folk? And what is someone taking an old sea shanty, singing it alone, someone else hijacking that solo shanty, putting a donk on it, and making a shit-ton of money, if not all in the true pirate spirit? (And what is being anachronistic just for the sake of that joke, if not the same?) All of you would get kicked off the ship. A ship with — admit it — more viscerally exciting music than 50% of pop radio. This isn’t even close to Peak Cynicism, either; 2021 so far seems more earnest than the 2010s, which would have turned the fad into Flo Rida ft. Jessie J, “Blow (The Man Down).”
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: I want to be impressed by the perversity, but anyone who has ever made a TikTok has put in more effort than went into this.
[2]

Thomas Inskeep: I don’t get the whole sea shanty fad — I’m too old for TikTok — and this remix makes it sound really, really ridiculous. I mean, this is a terrible remix no matter what the source material, let alone a Scottish-sung sea shanty, c’mon. It sounds like a “dance music” preset in a 10-year-old remixing program. And Evans has an incredibly punchable voice.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: The tale of the last Singing Postman to find fame for their folk music is a cautionary one. “Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?” earned Allan Smethurst an Ivor Novello in 1966, but stardom led to stage fright and onward to alcoholism. Having moved from Sheringham to Grimsby as a young man — a journey resonant with maritime tradition — he spent much of his final years in a Salvation Army hostel. This is not to predict that Nathan Evans will too one day find himself working on a Lincolnshire dock as lively as the Vote Leave fantasy imagines it, but as his vocal is submerged into this nifty-yet-ropy remix, the parallels surface. Seeing him, like a slightly less bewildered Limmy in his “just a pint of milk” sketch, submit to Michael Ball’s “duetting” on live TV was nine-parts funny to one-part poignant. Like Smethurst, he’s packed in his delivery rounds, but unlike him has ambitions of deeper respect for his craft. Going by that, and his stated affinity for Sheeran and Capaldi, he perhaps won’t be releasing “The Dogger Bank” as a follow-up. Hopefully, that proves auspicious.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The fastest grade I’ve ever awarded.
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One Response to “Nathan Evans – Wellerman (Sea Shanty / 220 KID x Billen Ted Remix)”

  1. Anyone have thoughts about the Nickelback TikTok?

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