If you’ve been on social media lately – and you sure haven’t because we all keep our New Years Resolutions – you’ve probably encountered a slum.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, a quick recap. The slum emerged in the middle of the last millennium as a song race for seafarers to pass the time, forge community bonds, and generally avoid going crazy. Then a few months ago a 26-year-old Scottish postman named Nathan Evans sang a performance on TikTok that made the world obsessed.
The slum shape is particularly suitable for TikTok. The youth app allows people to create ‘duets’, a feature that combines a video post with a video already playing. In September, TikTok reorganized functionality, leading to a renaissance of collaborative creativity. Shortly after, Evans released his performance of “Soon the Wellerman comesWhich quickly went viral and unleash a flood of duets, remixes and copies.
For anyone wondering, “the Wellerman” refers to an employee of The Weller Brothers, an Australian merchant company that dominated New Zealand ports in the 1830s. The singers in the slum are in dire need of supplies for their basic necessities. trip; namely, sugar, tea and rum. You can think of this air as a maritime predecessor of “The Wells Fargo Wagon»In the 1957 musical The man of music. (Side note: imagine being so excited to see someone from Wells fargo today?)
The resurgence of the slum may seem random, but it does make sense. As well as being perfectly suited to TikTok’s duo tech, the genre fits the moment. During pandemic lockdowns and quarantines, people are hungry for human connection. What better way to find solidarity than to lend your voice to the haunting beauty of the harmony of boating a cappella?
(There’s also something to be said about the shared human experience of engaging in the social media chore in the hopes of getting a big viral score, echoing the sad lottery of 19e whaling companies of the century.)
People who learn to exploit the peculiarities of mass communications and to exploit the zeitgeist acquire special powers. (See, formerly: @realDonaldTrump.) At present, it turns out that the mobile video sharing software of ByteDance, a Chinese company, is one of the most important global reasons for demonstrating this miracle of a feedback loop that we call culture. .
Lest you think the Sea Slum’s newfound popularity is a fluke, I could point you to the wacky genius of Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, one of the greatest musicians of all time. In the 1960s, Wilson perfected the “sound barrier” technique, famous for the famous hitman and convicted murderer Phil Spector, died in prison this weekend. This revolutionary style found avid fans thanks to its signature reverb, a quality that performed well on radios and jukeboxes, the then dominant audio streaming technology.
After finishing with the Wellerman, give “Sloop John B, ‘Beach boys’ own slum adaptation, listening. True genius is timeless.