Avast, ye landlubbers! At the moment, TikTok is going wild for sea shanties. But these songs traditionally beloved of sailors have also found a place on the Eurovision stage. We’re taking a look at sea shanty-inspired and nautical-themed songs that have been heard at Eurovision and national finals.

1. Latvia: Pirates of the Sea – “Wolves of the Sea” (Eurovision 2008)

In 2008, Latvia served some Baltic seafaring electronica fantasy with “Wolves of the Sea”. Originally intended for Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, “Wolves of the Sea” combined sea shanty style with a slick schlager sound. Pirates of the Sea’s performance came with nautical-themed staging which added to the drama. The song was a hit with Eurovision audiences and placed 12 in the grand final. It has since become a live staple of the Scottish “pirate metal” band Alestorm.

2. Portugal: Vânia Fernandes – “Senhora do mar (Negras águas)” (Eurovision 2008)

In 2008, Vânia Fernandes sang to “Senhora do mar” — the lady of the sea. It’s not strictly a sea shanty, but it does capture the drama and cruelty of the ocean. In the official English version, Vânia sings “Your sad and cold waves, deepest of all graves / Have frozen the fire of my days”. The sea is a cruel mistress and can separate sailors from their loved ones. “Senhora do mar” finished 13th in the grand final.

3. Germany: Santiano – “Fiddler on the Deck” (Unser Song für Dänemark 2014)

Santiano are a German band who specialise in folk music, including sea shanties. For Germany’s national final in 2014, they performed two songs, including the rousing “Fiddler on the Deck”. The song told the tale of a ship’s fiddle player, said to be “the one to blame when the devil calls your name”. The song made it to the second round of grand final voting but missed out on making the super final.

4. Iceland: Greta Salóme & Jónsi – “Never Forget” (Eurovision 2012)

“Never Forget” isn’t really a sea shanty, but it does seem to represent the other side of the equation — a woman left at home while her sweetheart is away at sea. The poetic lyrics express longing and hope, with the pre-chorus asserting, “And when the golden sun arises far across the sea / The dawn will break as darkness fades, forever we’ll be free”. “Never Forget” placed 20th in the grand final.

5. Turkey: Can Bonomo – “Love Me Back” (Eurovision 2012)

Surrounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas, Turkey has a rich seafaring history. Can Bonomo paid tribute to the life of the lonely sailor in his 2012 song “Love Me Back”. The song lyrics both used seafaring literally and metaphorically, as Can sang “I’m a lonely sailor / Drinking the night away / My ship is made from hope / She’s searching for your bay”. “Love Me Back” placed 7th in the grand final.

6. Sweden: Timoteij – “Kom” (Melodifestivalen 2010)

Timoteij’s Melodifestivalen entry “Kom” wasn’t specifically a sea shanty, but the song did have a hearty seafaring sound amid its folk-pop vibes. The lyrics take their inspiration from the seasons, inviting a lover to come along during the summer while the night is still warm. “Kom” placed fifth in the Melodifestivalen grand final.

7. Denmark: Rasmussen – “Higher Ground” (Eurovision 2018)

“Higher Ground” takes its inspiration from the Vikings — but it’s not a typical tale of a battle from these epic seafarers. The song tells the tale of the Viking earl Magnus Erlendsson, who refused to fight. While “Higher Ground” sets the scene with “Ships in the making / Bound for a distant shore”, it’s more about the action on land. However, the Lisbon staging had a nautical theme, complete with ship sails. “HIgher Ground” finished ninth in the grand final.

Mermaid bonus! San Marino: Valentina Monetta – “Maybe (Forse)” (Eurovision 2014)

Along with sea shanties, sailors also like mermaids. While Valentina Monetta didn’t literally bring mermaid eleaganza to Copenhagen (the home of The Little Mermaid), she certainly alluded to it. Her song “Maybe (Forse)” begins with the lyric “Maybe there’s a pearl in the shell” and the staging presents Valentina as that shimmering pearl, in front of what looks like a giant shell. “Maybe” took San Marino to the grand final where it placed 24th.

We also have mention to Malta’s three-time Eurovision star Chiara and her 2014 single “Mermaid in Love”. She accurately captures the stress of being a mermaid falling in love with a human.

– A shoutout to Eurovision superfan @elainovision and her Twitter discussion about Eurovision sea shanties, as well as contributions from the wiwibloggs team.

What do you think? What is your favourite nautical Eurovision song? Should more countries take inspiration from the sea? Have your say below!

Read more Eurovision lists here

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Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
1 month ago

Shocked that Nina Kraljic’s ‘Lighthouse’ (Croatia 2016) didn’t make the list!

GuitarHeart
GuitarHeart
1 month ago

Here is one for the REAL ESC-nerds…The song la voce del mare from the Swiss final 1989 😀

Iván el Conquistador
Iván el Conquistador
1 month ago

Higher Ground and Wolves of the Sea deserved much better in their respective years.

Jake
Jake
1 month ago

How can you include Kom instead of Stormande Hav?! That is the true sea shanty from Timoteij!! Love this article. So clever!! The entire Eurovision in Lisbon needs a special shoutout with the theme and the stage hehe

Una
Una
1 month ago

The whole of Eurovision 2014 should be listed here. It was held in a re-conditioned ship yard or such??!! Lovely Danish edition. 🙂

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
1 month ago

Whenever I hear Latvia’s 2008 entry I want to rip my ears out. I don’t think I’ve despised a Eurovision song more than that one.

Roy Moreno
Roy Moreno
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

For me, I just can’t with Austria 2012 and I think it was Estonia in 2008? Leto Svet
Latvia 2008 is at least catchy and decent in my opinion xD

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
1 month ago
Reply to  Roy Moreno

For me, Austria 2012 is also bad, but Leto Svet to me is for some reason really endearing. Not enough for me to put it anywhere near my qualifiers, but my ears can stand it.

helloeurope
helloeurope
1 month ago

And ‘Quien maneja mi barca’ of Remedios Amaya (Spain 1983)??? 🙁

Hellooooo
Hellooooo
1 month ago
Reply to  helloeurope

If you don’t understand the title, it means “Who drives my boat”

Ben R
Ben R
1 month ago

I would’ve put Matrosy (Ukraine JESC 2008) instead of the songs that never made it to the Eurovision stage…

Last edited 1 month ago by Ben R
Tom
Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben R

Same with Arevik (Armenia JESC 2007)

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom
Briekimchi
Briekimchi
1 month ago

Believe it or not, I was actually listening to “Fiddler on the Deck” today. 😉

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

I believe you! 🙂

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

“It’s not technically a sea shanty…”

Nudiecrudi
Nudiecrudi
1 month ago

Gente di mare.
Robin you have to study a little bit of history

Nudiecrudi
Nudiecrudi
1 month ago

Robyn don’t try to justify.
As you have written most of them aren’t sea shanty.
NAUTICAL THEME.
Gente di mare is a song dedicated to men and women sailing areond the seven seas without being sure if they would come back home or not.
More nautical then this???
You mentioned Valentina Monetta just because of the shell shape staging..!!!! Could you imagine sailors singing Forse???
Gente di mare is the most higher ranked amongst the bunch of song you have selected you may like or not.

Goszeg
Goszeg
1 month ago

Rassmusen was on Eurovision in 2018 not 2012 😉

warnoll
warnoll
1 month ago

turkey was 7th not 12

Christian
Christian
1 month ago

cough … Conquistador … cough

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

How is it Kom and not Stormande hav af Timoteij? It is about the sea, it is in the title, and has the same vibe as Kom.

Evridiki
Evridiki
1 month ago

“Kom” is my favorite song in Swedish from Melodifestivalen and one of the best overall. Even 11 years later, I can’t understand why Sweden didn’t select them and chose Anna Bergendahl with average song instead… Sweden looked for non-qualification and they got it. Timoteij would have easily qualified, at least (I guess they would have performed it in English, though :/ )

Last edited 1 month ago by Evridiki
NickC
NickC
1 month ago

Can Bonomo was not 12th… he was 7th.

Colin
Colin
1 month ago

It also has to do with most of these songs being really good. Both Senhora do mar and Never Forget are my personal ESC winners of 2008 / 2012, respectively. I also really like Latvia 2008, Turkey 2012 and San Marino 2014. Might be a coincidence… Or I just love aquatic themes. You never know… 😉

Last edited 1 month ago by Colin
Colin
Colin
1 month ago
Reply to  Colin
  • PS. And Denmark 2018, of course. My favorite Danish entry of the last decade.
GuitarHeart
GuitarHeart
1 month ago

To be honest, I think Latvia 2008 is the worst entry ever….. :-O

khm
khm
1 month ago

So let me get this straight. You found a spot for “Kom”, but forgot “Gente di mare”?

GuitarHeart
GuitarHeart
1 month ago
Reply to  khm

Gente di mare should be here. A real classic 🙂

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
1 month ago

But the title says sea shanties AND nautical themes??

Ben R
Ben R
1 month ago

But Maybe (Forse) is?
Also, (as little as I like this song) what about Lighthouse (Croatia 2016)?

Last edited 1 month ago by Ben R