Help Wizard

Step 1


Music Blogs 1.png

JJ's Bizarre Blog #9 - Songs of the Sea


Hello friends, it is indeed JJ back at it again with another splash of knowledge for you. It's summer of course and a lot of us head to the coast for a nice dose of R&R around this season and yours truly is no different. This got me thinking about a perfect topic for this time of year, something a little more loose and fun to enjoy ourselves in the sun - music about the sea, coastal parties and naval exploration. So that's what we're gonna talk about this time!


This time, I wanna start with a little personal story that contextualises why this entry will be special for me personally. For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the sea. Have you ever felt this way? I always want to be near it, I want to explore it and whenever I gaze upon it, I feel a type of tranquillity that nothing else seems to be able to evoke for me. It's even more odd given how I wasn't born and didn't grow up near the coast, I grew up in a small mountain town and while mountains and forests are what brings me a feeling of "home", it's the seas that always draw me in and awaken that strange calm mood.  I don't know what it is, it's an instinct, a raw feeling that comes from who knows where. I like to think that maybe I was a sailor in a past life or something. Or maybe I was a fish in past life instead? I should ask some Hindu friends about that. In any case, it's because of this oddity of mine and because I don't have the luxury of being near the coast that I have found another way to evoke that vibe - music about the seas. So let's dive right in then!




I usually start these blogs with some history but since this is a more loose topic, there isn't that much specific history to delve into. Nonetheless, the earliest examples of this type of music that I want to start with are the so called "sea shanties". These are songs that originated from sailors who would use them to tell their stories and keep their spirits high when out at sea. Being a sailor was a very gruelling and merciless profession so most ships had a crew musician on board to help lift up crew morale. They typically follow the format of having a main singer perform the song verses with an oft repeated catchy chorus - following the seafaring tradition of the ship musician leading the way while giving plenty of easy to follow choruses for the whole crew to sing along to. A lot of the songs are also entirely A cappella (it's difficult to play anything on a ship violently rocking in the waves after all). If they include any instrumentation, it is minimal and comprised of old-timey instruments like an accordion, fiddle, flute, harmonica, etc.


spotify:track:5Su5ILFp6U83cnIXwfmlC5:small  spotify:track:4fAqrUSA3LPV0ZHsLAH3Pz:small  spotify:track:0rUlgaYGSyTLNQEuvrnrxm:small 
spotify:track:54OBgO0Xwu20Jak9TMXbR7:small  spotify:track:6tLRGja4JrRoIUBAhmK4WZ:small  spotify:track:4m6d1gakr80NsDIOX4B43p:small 


While the exact origins of these songs are hard to pin down because most were never written down and were only shared by word of mouth, the popularity of these types of songs definitely surged during the age of exploration and the colonial period, with sailors crossing the oceans and completing longer and more challenging voyages than ever before in history. The genre peaked especially right after in the golden age of piracy, with the subject matter of the songs adjusted accordingly. In fact, pirates will be a very recurring theme in this blog. 


spotify:track:2Xpx05oXRaWEExpvsfioSv:small  spotify:track:7ijrqgBKg3BQ3P0lQpSvoK:small  spotify:track:1bG44dMnIIXZZdcHlxwz4v:small 
spotify:track:7pbUBoAUewp7qTiTKQIPKs:small  spotify:track:3owxyjckLopWUDZRZ5o837:small  spotify:track:46arRBgR1k2PNv4RD9O7D2:small 


In recent years, sea shanties have seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Various historical films have included them to help sell their atmosphere and with the huge successes of various pirate-themed films and video games, more and more of them have fallen on a large number of ears. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is one particularly important example, with the pirate crews in it singing many historical shanties during long journeys. In more recent years, new artists have arisen that make new songs in the classic shanty format, singing about pirates, sailing across the Atlantic, whaling, naval warfare and more. British quartet The Longest Johns, their name referencing the most legendary pirate novel of all time Treasure Island, are probably the most popular example of this and have found great success in what they do.


spotify:track:6ZblDQM0Gq0daaPAwuHOmD:small  spotify:track:3axCgesL3rsjGzCX9ZJCTo:small  spotify:track:5j1afatmPZ6MxqpLdSWAGn:small 
spotify:track:4UIrHCB53oLV58ylcsdFxf:small  spotify:track:5tLHdDudxoCVAs89X6G5dL:small  spotify:track:1NC8EvzidMu9cW03zMgZln:small 
spotify:track:36AKMz3kq6LhxtjzeOiMRQ:small  spotify:track:6qt5ATBB3YT22YbhE9ZgfZ:small  spotify:track:5Ka2fQyqSyf3A8mU8DrDIp:small 


The popularity of sea shanties has also greatly influenced another prominent saltwater flavoured movement - pirate metal. I talked about this in the last blog before this but whatever, I like it so much, I'm gonna talk about it again. Most of pirate metal is an offshoot of folk metal with strong pirate and nautical themes. The metal part is upbeat and danceable and the folk metal instruments mixed in are the ones typical for old fashioned sea shanties. The song structures and abundant catchy choruses with gang vocals are also very heavily inspired by shanties. Nonetheless, not all pirate-themed metal is of the folk variety and other genres like to sing about sailing, treasure, rum and swashbuckling.


spotify:track:5ZOCDXK5pMJ3n3zBPTp1uT:small  spotify:track:6jaDdgrENTmLHkonu7v04V:small  spotify:track:0c9A1BJErhWbcuWDQ3a87S:small 
spotify:track:62ZadeninQhqQo3ro5G9BO:small  spotify:track:1aUZPuS6ZX66XfLxrELPEG:small  spotify:track:4zyQIssneqHip4ucMIqdNC:small 
spotify:track:0I6O6Y0eeSiDY7KrxxlZBV:small  spotify:track:1g2BTFJCtFmCRq1qauROR1:small  spotify:track:7uUG9GFQUQGxSDQZ6ggc7X:small 


Other genres of metal also of course love singing about oceans, seas, rivers and lakes. Power metal, symphonic metal and progressive metal offer great melodic selections with a great sense of adventure.


spotify:track:2SAWR6iBrWe1fVzbK5vZJq:small  spotify:track:48ghGG0Hpg8kN9oG5a2oua:small  spotify:track:5pl5yundPiXDINnTGwBQmX:small 
spotify:track:2ojyzUmMNwbIRqD0hgYT3t:small  spotify:track:4wdCL2C4nZQBeZEnaoZ9vc:small  spotify:track:29C7AhtLFeQY7RjJmyyW0v:small 
spotify:track:2bbFGnmuC4EGRHhlmN9Dgs:small  spotify:track:2JPZ7vxWQGXd51C5zNv2Im:small  spotify:track:4D4vcggHyK7dzRQxofSH5f:small 


Meanwhile, black metal, death metal and doom metal offer darker and more melancholic interpretation, which fits especially well for me, as I feel like the tranquillity of being by the sea presents a fantastic moment for introspection.


spotify:track:67VvejLVTmuhBeAwJwtKkj:small  spotify:track:0rOGibVakd6zwMTVxbPTJY:small  spotify:track:7dwyshUCEWfTQCfSqXROTZ:small 
spotify:track:1j8L336Q0X3SrJ3n8RGlHP:small  spotify:track:24fYVWh5tVR50efaQaKJ5Y:small  spotify:track:0EiDkfPLiwIQsILpIVJZaU:small 
spotify:track:0neBDiKwSS6L67sFNwQapy:small  spotify:track:4fY2JR0REUiykvzRw61sk9:small  spotify:track:2hxdeUEVTb1W1e7m1oSyBo:small 


As I've shown I'm not all doom and gloom though, I like the odd summer hit here and there too. When you find those more tastefully made songs, they definitely get a great mood going. Perfect beach music too obviously.


spotify:track:49X0LAl6faAusYq02PRAY6:small  spotify:track:1AQQ9DdpEemMVTHNz4eG9a:small  spotify:track:3AszgPDZd9q0DpDFt4HFBy:small 
spotify:track:303ccTay2FiDTZ9fZ2AdBt:small  spotify:track:6r8k1vznHrzlEKYxL4dZEe:small  spotify:track:5QrNXvTQEuBb5iLoIAAuvk:small 


There are also plenty of nautical-ish trance and house songs that really fit the mood of the ocean's expanse, so they present another great choice for vibing on the coast and soaking in the moment.


spotify:track:4jW0JslSUaV94CUPeCGlM8:small  spotify:track:1p4smiT88SeTNg4zz0hjmS:small  spotify:track:2OGlEtrwj7JO9mIydz1pwW:small 
spotify:track:1sgyYCbGhkX3auLHCQ825G:small  spotify:track:1MJ0WXFroNxA9q2qFmh2E7:small  spotify:track:0ZdYDCmq8pMqjjPjCJ4XSR:small 
spotify:track:0lLUJ9Yco92enEqWaiq9iq:small  spotify:track:0gC7COEAEHm0OxMhWk9lW4:small  spotify:track:15YaqG66UcjQz2vwTQfnpu:small 


As has become tradition in my blogs, I mention video game soundtracks at every opportunity and here is another one coming. A lot of games deal with seafaring piracy and of course have thematically appropriate songs to jam to. As a bonus, some sci-fi games even go a different route and use the old tradition of sea shanties to make their own songs that sing the same way about space travel instead - space shanties! A whole new dimension of exploration, but an emotion and an adventure that seems so familiar.


spotify:track:3hRQVUaNrPJlnzudLutmSa:small  spotify:track:7nq8DgNdgYGihJrZYB221C:small  spotify:track:2vaa0nnDnNTlxCh7fCmjsr:small 
spotify:track:6MNW4nosn8RT9pN88p2zDA:small  spotify:track:1zv830fzD0oJkBq6Unscm8:small  spotify:track:5eZiC96lRq6IPHEOnbw0KS:small 
spotify:track:22KvbVZLVA9aY7zsRWK0fw:small  spotify:track:7cdmELYEknyXkoZq8mgdty:small  spotify:track:6aYjVWuTtLWjRu1OYK9a6h:small 


So anyway, I think I've rambled on long enough. Hopefully now you get the idea and you too can feel a deep passion for the oceans and seas and this inspires you to enjoy them in a whole new way. I hope you manage to visit many shores this summer and have a grand adventure that you remember for years to come. And may these songs flow with you and make the journey truly special. Sail away, mateys!





1 Comment