The 10 best songs inspired by Talk Like A Pirate Day

It's talk like a pirate day, so here are some pirate-themed bangers, ye landlubbers
(Image credit: Disney Junior via Getty)

What be happenin’, matey? Today marks the 11th International Talk Like a Pirate Day, first set up by Oregon pirate obsessives Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy in 1995 just fer a hoot and holler.

So, if you’re wondering why people are wandering around going ‘Ahoy, matey’, ‘curse ye landlubbers’ or even ‘give me your wallet’ while waving a flintlock musket in your chops, just know it’s all in a wee bit ‘o a ruckus.

Which brings us to our favourite joke. What be a pirate’s favourite Queens Of The Stone Age album? Rated Arr, of course, ye scurvy scum.

We’d write the lot in ‘piratese’ but it gets really tiring after a while. Here are 10 pirate songs to plunder to…

10. Epica – Pirates Of The Caribbean

It would be churlish to begin any pirate-themed playlist without some sort of nod to everyone’s favourite eyeliner-sporting drunk, Captain Jack Sparrow. While there are many worthy metal covers of Hans Zimmer’s Pirates Of The Caribbean score, Epica’s version makes all others walk the plank to their watery death.

9. The Vandals – Pirate’s Life

The Huntingdon Beach punks’ debut EP Peace Through Vandalism featured a pirate-themed song of sorts. While the track is not strictly about living the life of a high seas anarchist, it’s about an awful experience on Disneyland’s Pirates Of The Caribbean while on LSD.

8. Mad Caddies – Weird Beard

Ska punk on a pirate playlist? Hey, there are no rules when it comes to pirates. If there were, they’d simply be called sailors. This Mad Caddies sea shanty has mentions of a port, drunkards, threats of mutiny, the Jolly Roger and violence. With a yo ho ho, here they are at number eight. Arr, matey. Pieces of eight. And whatnot.

7. Verbal Deception – The Temptress

While these Calgary metallers don’t appear to dress up like Captain Hook – or worse, Smee – there’s a definite nautical motif to their metal. Their 2006 album was called Aurum Aetus Piraticus. The Temptress is about a pirate ship being ransacked by a cavorting woman, topped off with Iron Maiden-esque riffs.

6. Cat O' Nine Tails – Splicing The Mainbrace

These Finnish power metallers released a pirate-themed album Under Captain’s Flag last year. It has a shanty swing, organs and swells like a stormy sea. Nautical fact: ‘splicing the mainbrace’ was a naval term to repair the rigging. Now it’s ship slang to give everyone on the wretched vessel a splash of grog.

5. Swashbuckle – Cruise Ship Terror

This New Jersey lot don’t fuck about when it comes to pirate thrash. Costumes? Tick. Beards? Tick. Violent video shot on a boat? Tick. Possible consumption of rum on tour? Probably. Just look at them. They were born in the wrong century.

4. Running Wild – Under Jolly Roger

Hamburg metallers Running Wild sang about the traditional themes of evil, demons and Hell for years, until 1987. That was the year they decided to explore piracy in all its forms. Here’s the title track with an opening line which could well serve a nautically-obsessed rapper: ‘Weigh anchor, hoist the sails, cruisin’ for booty on watery trails’. Because in rap, booty means a lady’s posterior, not treasure.

3. Sex Pistols – Friggin' In The Riggin'

A punk take on the traditional drinking song Good Ship Venus, this NSFW singalong featured on the Sex Pistols’ 1979 soundtrack to The Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle. The song – which was later covered by Anthrax – was part of double A-side with Something Else and reached number three in the charts. We can’t imagine this song ever, ever being played on the radio: ‘The second mate was Andy, by Christ, he had a dandy, ‘til they crushed his cock with a jagged rock for cumming in the brandy.’ The lesson? Never drink a pirate’s booze.

2. Scissorfight – The Gruesome Death Of Edward Teach

One of the many highlights of the Scissorfight’s album New Hampshire focusses not on rum, wenches or simple maps marked with a cross, but a look at horrific demise of the English plunderer Blackbeard. On the night of November 22, 1718, Teach was shot five times and cut 20 times in Ocracoke, North Carolina: ‘Cutting off his head, turns the ocean red, trophy on display as his headless corpse swims away.’ A bad night all round, then.

1. Alestorm – Keelhauled

We conclude this playlist with Scottish pirate metallers Alestorm. Keelhauled is a thrash shanty about an execution at sea and therefore the most pirate-themed song of all, topped off with a riff to shake your booty: ‘Make that bastard walk the plank with a bottle of rum and a yo-ho-ho’.

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.