Hello and welcome back to another installment of AM weekly news. With vaccines being rolled out and the January weather continuing to chill, it has been a fairly quiet week for us here at AM. Screen time has certainly been on the rise and doomscrolling has been plentiful however, we are here to bring you some of our top stories from this week!
Hundreds of priority patients were graced with a rather unexpected backing track to their COVID vaccinations, as they were serenaded by organ music in Salisbury Cathedral! In a historic move, the 800 year old building became a temporary vaccination centre this weekend for priority patients. A programme of music was specially programmed and performed on the cathedral’s nineteenth-century Father Willis Organ (I wonder if the organists started taking requests…)
LA based singer/songwriter Jensen McRae has set Twitter abuzz with her 52-second track, written in tribute to the 2023 version of Phoebe Bridgers. The preemptive cover imagines what emo-pop-fairy Bridgers may be writing about in the future and features lyrics about hooking up in a car while waiting in line to get vaccinated. The stunning similarity between McRae and Bridgers has been remarked on by many, with Bridgers herself retweeting the track with the simple message, ‘oh my god’. Give it a listen for a little taste of the future…
Shakira has become the latest pop star to sell the rights to her songs in a multi-million dollar deal with British-based company, Hipgnosis. The deal includes all 145 of her tracks including Hips Don’t Lie, Whenever, Wherever and She Wolf. The Hipgnosis Song Fund has similarly recently acquired the rights to the music of Blondie and Neil Young so will surely be making a tidy profit from future royalties. During this current climate of global uncertainty, it is probably unsurprising to see such prolific artists cashing in whilst they still can!
It’s a story that got everyone talking this week: the tale of how a Scottish postman pioneered the global ‘ShantyTok’ trend, a portmanteau of ‘sea shanty’ and ‘TikTok’. The social media platform TikTok has boomed ever since the start of the pandemic, allowing users to promote their creative happenings, discover new crazes, and collaborate with others by ‘duetting’ videos to create original compositions and interesting covers from the comfort of their bedrooms.
Nathan Evans, a postie by day and budding TikToker by night, is credited for sparking international intrigue in the ‘sea shanty’ (a genre of traditional folk song regarding sailors and their travels) with his rendition of ‘The Wellerman’. The tune in question is thought to be a New Zealand folk song written by a young whaler during the nineteenth century and resonates heavily with the context of our current contemporary moment. The feeling of confinement, homesickness, boredom, and running out of necessities (just trade Wellerman’s ‘sugar and tea and rum’ for ‘toilet rolls and hand san’) is something we have all experienced throughout the pandemic.
The rediscovery of Wellerman’s tune is a prime example of how communal singing has served to motivate and embolden societies throughout history, emphasing the power of continuous effort and collective strength in times of struggle or hard work. Evans’ TikTok has now been shared and duetted thousands of times by professional vocalists and instrumentalists. Even Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow got in on the action this week, proving why he’s the perfect ‘anchor’…!
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Words by Hermione Kellow and Pia Rose Scattergood
Photo © Apocalypse Music