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Pirate Song

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"Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot
Drink up, me hearties, yo ho
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!"
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Pirates can be a jolly bunch, when they're not plundering and pillaging. It's fairly common in fiction for pirates to sing songs while on their ship, in a tavern, or someplace else, often with lyrics about how they enjoy being swashbucklers. The song will usually be sung in a characteristic pirate accent, and are most likely played on an accordion.

These songs usually take the form of a sea shanty, a type of song that was originally sung by laborers on large merchant ships.

Viking songs count too. After all, both pirates and vikings are seafaring marauders.

Often overlaps with Accordion to Most Sailors, "I Am" Song, Job Song, and Villain Song. Often featured in Pirate Episodes. See Ghost Song for more amoral beings singing about what they do best. (Considering the prevalence of Ghost Pirates in fiction, there may be overlap between this trope and Ghost Song as well, somewhere...)

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Not to be confused with pirated music.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Binks' Sake in One Piece. This trope is the explicit reason Luffy's insistence of finding a musician for the crew was a Running Gag before Brook filled the part.

    Film - Animated 
  • Peter Pan has Captain Hook's crew sing "A Pirate's Life", about how they love living as freebooters and criminals.
    • There's also "The Elegant Captain Hook", which is Captain Hook's attempt to recruit the Lost Boys into his crew of pirates, with a threat of making them Walk the Plank thrown in to get them to comply. It almost succeeds but for Wendy, who brings them back to their senses.
  • Captain Gutt's sea chanty "Master of the Seas" in Ice Age: Continental Drift, in which Gutt and his crew try to convince Manny, Sid and Diego to join them.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Muppet Treasure Island:
    • The opening number, "Shiver My Timbers." Although the song accompanies a scene of pirates raiding an island, the song is not sung by the pirates themselves, but by Muppet animals, statues, and skulls on the island. The song is all about the nature of pirates, and as such, it's surprisingly grim for a Muppet movie, not at all sugarcoating how pirates can be treacherous, ruthless, and even murderous when it comes to making a profit.
    • Long John Silver's Villain Song, "Professional Pirate," where he explains a pirate's life to Jim Hawkins.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)", is the leitmotif of the series.
    • In Dead Man's Chest, the titular song is sung by one of Jack's crew near the start of the film.
    • In At World's End, in the opening, "Hoist the Colours" is sung by several pirates being executed.
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    Literature 
  • There is a bunch of pirate songs in Cold Obsidian.
  • Redwall: In Triss, Captain Plugg Firetail's crew sings three songs, which the audiobook gives shanty-like tunes to: "The Freebooter's Way," "Dirty Desperate Crew," and "Freebooters' Song," about how they enjoy being marauders.
  • Treasure Island is, like with most pirate tropes, arguably the Trope Codifier for pirate songs, chiefly with the "Dead Man's Chest" sung by Billy Bones. Only a fraction of the song is actually shown in the novel, with the rest being left to the reader's imagination, but these few lyrics immortalize and inspire countless other shanty pirate songs.
    Fifteen men on the dead man's chest—
    ...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
    Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
    ...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • Alestorm is a pirate-themed Power Metal band that patterns its songs after these, with sea shanty beats and lyrics about the golden age of piracy and warfare. And sometimes sillier things like stealing beer. They have also made Cover Versions of other famous pirate songs, like "We Are a Pirate", "Barrett's Privateers" and "Wolves of the Sea".
  • "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate " by The Arrogant Worms describes how a down-and-out farmer is lured into piracy in the modern era.
    And it's a hee! Hi!
    Comin' down the plains
    Stealin' wheat and barley and all the other grains!
    And it's a ho! Hi!
    Farmers, bar your doors
    When you see the Jolly Roger on Regina's mighty shores!
  • "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin, a song about vikings:
    We come from the land of the ice and snow,
    From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
    How soft your fields so green. Can whisper tales of gore.
    Of how we calmed the tides of war. We are your overlords.
    Always sweep with threshing oar,
    Our only goal will be the western shore.
    So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins.
    For peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing.
  • Running Wild is much like Alestorm, but were one of the first bands to take up the pirate image and lyrics. They even have a song actually titled "Pirate Song".
  • Naufragant, named for a book about piratical adventure, previously named themselves Skull and Bones, and had an entire concept album themed after Treasure Island. Youtube user A Pirate's Life has a whole bunch of pirate songs.
  • Tom Smith has two Talk Like a Pirate Day songs. The first being the official holiday anthem, and the second (Hey, it's Can(n)on) having fun with the fact that it happens to be Hermione Granger's birthday.
  • During Siiva Gunner's "Talk Like A Pirate Day" event, one rip uploaded was a Siiva Gunner-themed pirate shanty, with lyrics detailing a pathetic viewer of the channel who is kept alive only by Siiva Gunner (and porn).
    Me internet addiction has fucked up me life
    I ain't got no job, and I ain't got no wife
    The only thing that keeps me from killing myself
    Is porno and memes from the Gunner himself
  • ATEEZ have created a concept centered around pirates, and their debut single is even titled "Pirate King".
  • "Pirate" by German rock band Kasalla (pronounced "pee-RAHT-ah" in Colognian dialect). It's a popular song for the Cologne Carnival, but it takes the pirate motif and runs with it.
    Pirate - weld un frei - dreimol Kölle ahoi (Pirates - wild and free - Three times Cologne Ahoy).
    rette sich wä kann, mer läge an (Save yourself if you can, we're landing).
    Pirate - weld un frei - dreimol Kölle ahoi (Pirates - wild and free - Three times Cologne Ahoy).
    un dä Dudekopp op unser Fahn (And the pirate skull on our flag).
    hät en rude Pappnas aan (Is wearing a red cardboard nose).

    Theatre 
  • Parodied in Peter Pan Goes Wrong. The pirates sing "Hey for Davy Jones," a standard sea shanty. However, the mechanism for the rotating stage is not working, and the stage keeps rotating between the three different sets (the pirate ship, the forest, and the bedroom) while the pirates are singing. Some stagehands are working on the bedroom set, and when they realize they're on camera, they start awkwardly swinging their arms to the beat to make it look like they're supposed to be there. Eventually, everyone on the bedroom and forest sets starts fighting, creating a lot of commotion that drowns out the pirates' song.
  • The Pirates of Penzance has the Pirate King sing a self-titled song about how great it is being a pirate.
  • The second act of The SpongeBob Musical opens with the non-plot-relevant "Poor Pirates," lead by Patchy the Pirate, all about how you should be more sympathetic to the needs and wants of pirates, because they "arr" people too, y'know!

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag lets your crew sing various sea shanties while sailing. There are also collectible song lyrics scattered about that unlock more songs.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island has three pirates sing a swinging tune called "A Pirate I Was Meant to Be," which is about how they're sure they can help Guybrush because they're great pirates. Guybrush wants them to stop because the song is going on too long, but the pirates find rhymes for all his protests and continue singing, until he tricks them by mentioning an orange.
  • Freddi Fish: The Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds has a more downplayed, silly example. The pirate fish Fineas sings a song about how he likes to say "Argh!"
  • Kingdom Hearts III: After being absent in the last time Pirates of the Caribbean appeared in the franchise, "Yo Ho" is sung at the opening cutscene of The Caribbean world, with its lyrics reworded to serve as an abridged recap for Dead Man's Chest, which is skipped over for adapting At World's End. Also, it changes "Drink up" to "look out", largely to avoid alcohol references that would raise the game's rating, but likewise turns the song into a warning to all who hear it about the looming threat. Sora himself sings the main line when we first see him after entering the world then hums the rest.
  • Who can ever forget the simple, yet ever so iconic and catchy Sea Shanty 2 from old-school RuneScape?
  • Sea of Thieves features several, though they're largely instrumental, such as "Bosun Bill," "Summon The Megalodon," and the pirate legend exclusive "We Shall Sail Together." "Grogg Mayles" features lyrics about the legendary Grogg Maylesnote , and with the Pirates of the Caribbean crossover event, pirates who complete all of the related Tall Tales' deeds receive an instrumental of "A Pirate's Life" to play to their heart's content.
  • Warframe has a space shanty in "Sleeping in the Cold Below," sung by Vala Glarios and her sister Corpus laborers aboard the Lucretia Platorm at least until it's destroyed by the Tempestarii. It also accompanies the battle where Sevagoth's Shadow battles an army of Corpus.

     Web Animation 
  • Fittingly, Houshou Marine, hololive's resident Pirate Girl, had a pirate song called Ahoy!! 我ら宝鐘海賊団☆ (lit. "Ahoy!! We are the Houshou Pirates☆") as her first original song. It has proven to be one of Hololive's most popular productions.

     Webcomics 
  • Chapter 9 of Whispers in the Wind is named after a song from real band Pat Razket and starts with one of the pirate singing the said song "Pirate's Lullaby".

     Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has a more grim example than most with "LICORICE," sung by Stickybeard and his crew as they tell the story of a pirate named Black John who was cursed after stealing a whole forest of licorice trees, and how Stickybeard and his cabin boy Heinrich unwittingly invoked the wrath of the cursed pirates.
  • DuckTales (2017): Don Karnage and his Sky Pirate crew sing one while pillaging Scrooge's plane. The song serves as a distraction, as Scrooge and his family are too confused to fight back. The song shows all the characteristics of this trope, with a sea shanty-like melody and lyrics about plundering, including a lot of pirate lingo.
  • Jake and the Never Land Pirates is obviously one of the kings of this trope, because one is used in every episode. And even the theme song and the ending themes are ones.
  • Justin Time (2011) had the episode "It's a Viking Thing" where vikings sing about what they like to do.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh had a Pirate themed episode with the Pooh Pirates opening with the song "Pirates is What We'll Be".
  • PAW Patrol had a pirate song once in "Sea Patrol: Pirate Pups to the Rescue".
  • Phineas and Ferb: Both versions of "Ballad of Badbeard" count, the first one only having the lyrics "Arg, arg, arg, arg, this is the Ballad of Badbeard", and the second being sung by the kids as they're searching for Badbeard's treasure and playing the role of a pirate crew.
  • The South Park episode "Fatbeard" has Cartman trying to regiment a gang of modern day Somalian pirates into cliche treasure hunting rogues through a montage song shanty. It works.
  • Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea has "The Pirate Dance" which is sung every time the Pirates appear in a scene, being in general a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • VeggieTales: The original Pirates Who Don't Do Anything introduce themselves by singing about all the acts of piracy and seamanship they've never done.


Alternative Title(s): Viking Song

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"The Pirate King"

"The Pirate King" is one of the most infectious songs about Pirates ever written.

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