The largest meme of 2021 – at the least till Bernie Sanders’ mittens got here alongside – has translated into UK chart success, because the track on the heart of the sea shanty craze debuts within the Top 40.
Wellerman, with its infectious refrain heralding the arrival of “sugar, tea and rum”, reaches No 37 this week, by way of a model by the Bristol vocal group the Longest Johns.
The shanty originated in Australia and New Zealand within the 1830s and tells the story of a whaling crew trying ahead to their depart as they try to make a catch. It is the preferred track to have emerged from the latest explosion in reputation of sea shanties, totally on TikTok.
One of the main practitioners, Scottish postman Nathan Evans, was signed to main label Polydor this week and will take Wellerman to new heights in subsequent week’s chart. His newly recorded model is launched on 22 January, alongside a dance remix by 220 Kid and Billen Ted.
“They’ve changed my life,” Evans said of sea shanties earlier this week. “They’ve opened up so many doors and opportunities that I would never have had if it wasn’t for them.”
New Zealand people historian John Archer told the Guardian this week that the track had modern resonances: “My guess is that the Covid lockdowns have put millions of young [people] into a similar situation that young whalers were in 200 years ago: confined for the foreseeable future, often far from home, running out of necessities, always in risk of sudden death, and spending long hours with no communal activities to cheer them up.”
At the highest of this week’s chart, Olivia Rodrigo has a second week at No 1 with Drivers License, which broke streaming records in its debut week. The 17-year-old Disney star additionally reaches No 32 with All I Want.
The album chart is topped by You Me At Six, scoring their sixth Top 10 album and second No 1. Sleaford Mods earn their highest ever inserting, with new album Spare Ribs reaching No 4.