So far, 2021 is turning out to be almost as weird as 2020. For some reason (probably mostly Captain Jack Sparrow), all of geekdom has been enamored of pirate themes in their media and music for years now. Perhaps that explains one of the weirdest, nerdiest things currently happening on TikTok, and frankly nothing to us is as weird as the fact that Nickelback got in on this on the ground floor. They did a sea shanty version of their original hit from 2005, Rockstar, then teamed up with the UK band The Lottery Winners for a second round, and the TikTok crowd is officially off the chain for it.
I quote from the band’s Ryan Peake: “We loved collaborating on the original TikTok release, and then talked with the Lottery Winners via zoom for an afternoon and decided to have more fun with it. Having Donnell Leahy help out last minute gave it a nice Maritime touch. It’s all internet lockdown shenanigans and we’re happy that people are enjoying ‘Rockstar’ 15 years later.”
You read that right: a sea shanty version of the Nickelback hit, “Rockstar.” And you know what? It works!
Most of what we consider filk music is humorous in nature, but not all – yet, the Rockstar sea shanty is, in its purest sense, filk. It takes a familiar song and puts a geeky spin on it, turning it into something it was never intended to be when it was first written. It takes Rockstar – and Nickelback itself – and makes them both into something we can geek out over.
The appeal of the sea shanty itself is understandable, especially in what we at SCIFI.radio are calling the Age of the Great Pandemic. Sea shanties require relatively few resources to create – just a small chorus of strong voices, some simple instrumentation (often none at all), and something to sing about that gives you a foundation for some good lyrics or storytelling. Sea shanties are more accessible for homebound creators than a lot of other musical forms, and they can be short and fun – just what we need right now.
It’s actually fashionable to slam Nickelback in social media, but maybe it’s time to reconsider some preconceived notions. This is actually good. And because it’s pure nerdery, too, we’re gonna be playing this one on SCIFI.radio, if for no other reason than its value as official Whiskey Tango Foxtrot music.