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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 'earties, yo ho
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho!"

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. 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...)


Not to be confused with pirated music.


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    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 4: 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 Colors" is sung by several pirates being executed.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, the pirate themed episode "The Curse of the Black Spot" features a pirate themed remix of "I Am the Doctor" called "All For One".
  • In the LazyTown episode "Rottenbeard", the pirate Rottenbeard — who is actually Robbie Rotten in disguise — takes the children on a fake treasure hunt and sings "You Are A Pirate" with them. The song talks about adventure, the freedom of a pirate and the treasure hunt.
  • Subverted by Key & Peele in the "Feminist Pirate Chanty" sketch: a group of rowdy pirates sing a bawdy drinking song about informed consent, providing foreplay, being pro-choice, and recognizing that women can hold traditionally male jobs. It appears the Captain shoots anyone who sings disrespectful shanties.
  • Horrible Histories did a song about Blackbeard.
  • Gullah Gullah Island has the song "Pirates I Will Be", sung in "Family Day". In "Polliwog Day", this song uses the tune for "Binyahlumbus".

  • 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 Pirate of Saskatchewan" by The Arrogant Worms describes how a down-and-out farmer is lured into piracy in the modern era.
  • "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.
  • "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).

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 characteristics of this trope, with a sea shanty-like melody and lyrics about plundering, including a lot of pirate lingo.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Viking Song


"You Are A Pirate"

The pirate Rottenbeard - who is actually Robbie Rotten in disguise - takes the children on a fake treasure hunt and sings "You Are A Pirate" with them. The song talks about adventure, the freedom of a pirate and the treasure hunt.

How well does it match the trope?

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