Starfield's space shanties are sung by the viral sea shanty man

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Nathan Evans is a singer from the fine town of Airdrie in Scotland and, during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, became TikTok famous for a very old reason: sea shanties. This young man is a master at belting out the salty old songs of our forebears, and his renditions of classic sailor songs found a wide audience: over 2020 his versions of standards like Leave Her Johnny, The Scotsman and The Wellerman were all over TikTok with millions of views.

Someone at Bethesda clearly noticed, because in Starfield there's an occasional random encounter you'll have in orbit: a spaceship with a notably Scottish captain singing shanties that have been adapted for the cold vastness of space. The IMDb credits for the game show that this is Evans himself floating in the void, lightening up players' days briefly before jumping out of the system.

It's a charming incidental detail: Evans has a lovely voice, and unexpectedly hearing it waft over your ship's intercom as you gaze on the vastness of space feels appropriate. There's also a small interaction at the end where the player can choose to compliment or dismiss the shanty-singing space captain. One encounter went semi-viral on, naturally, TikTok, which Evans himself soon reacted to.


♬ original sound - Lank

On the one hand, this shows an issue inherent in games like Starfield with huge lead times: you end up including a guy who went viral in 2020 in a game that releases in 2023. But on the other these interludes are a perfect fit for space, due to the nature of sea shanties themselves.

When Evans went viral during the pandemic The New Yorker profiled him, and Amanda Petrusich contemplated the source of his success: "It seems possible that after nearly a year of solitude and collective self-banishment, and of crushing restrictions on travel and adventure, the shanty might be providing a brief glimpse into a different, more exciting way of life, a world of sea air and pirates and grog." Or, perhaps, a galaxy of vacuum and pirates and cubes.


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Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."