Stephen Colbert performs TikTok famous 19th-century Kiwi sea shanty 'Wellerman'

Stephen Colbert has performed an impromptu rendition of the 19th century New Zealand sea shanty 'Wellerman' which recently blew up on TikTok. 

The Late Show host announced to his musical guest Jon Batiste that 2021 was the "year of the sea shanty" after a wave of content creators began covering songs from old merchant sailing vessels on social media. 

When asked by Batiste what his favourite shanty was, Colbert had no hesitation before bursting into his version of 'Wellerman', an old Kiwi whaling song that went viral among singers on TikTok and spawned dozens of covers and even an 'electro shanty' remix. 

Colbert's spirited performance went down a treat with Batiste, who exclaimed "Ohhh, I like that!" before playing a few accompanying bars on the piano. 

"Whaling songs, they're gonna be the biggest, the best, the greatest. All acapella, acapella, acapella," Colbert said. 

"Blonde guys, in sweaters - it's gonna be amazing." 

A performance of the track by Scottish singer and TikTok user Nathan Evans appears to have kicked off the renewed popularity of 'Wellerman'.

The #seashanty hashtag on TikTok has now generated 1.1 billion views from videos of creators running with the trend on the video-sharing platform.