Sea Shanties were work songs sung on ships during the age of sail. They were used to keep rhythm during work and make it more pleasant. Because these songs were used to accomplish a goal, rather then for pure entertainment, the lyrics and melody were not very sophisticated. Still, the songs were usually meaningful and told of a sailor’s life, which included backbreaking labor, abuse from captain and crew, alcohol, and longing for girls and dry land.
You can hear ten such shanties, plus bonus movie footage at The Art of Manliness. Link -Thanks, Michal!