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Do 70' s British musicians all wannabe Americans? Jelly Brah?


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  • Do 70' s British musicians all wannabe Americans? Jelly Brah?

    I always wonered why most Brits, not all, there are exceptions, but it seems that the vast majority of British singers from the seventies and some from the eighties, some even continuing to this day, seem to sing with an American accent, even though they may have the most highly over pronounced British accents when they speak?


    It always struck me as really odd and seemed to have had an air of  fakeness about it like the singers were all trying to pretend they were Americans or something. 


    I mean why do really stereotypically heavy British accents become Americanized when sung in a musical context if the artists weren't actually trying to pretend they are American?


    Iis ok to just be yourself and you should not be ashamed or embarrased of your origin and embrace it, and sing loudly,  shout it from the roof tops in the accent you were born with. Why do they feel the need to try to hide their Britishness when they sing? Are they embarrased of it?


    And I could maybe believe it was just some physiological thing that cant be helped and that certain words just sound different when sung as opposed to spoken IF they ALL did this, but there seemed to have been a revolution in the eighties with all the punk and new wave etc. bands that were coming out with really thick British accents which proves it has to have been being done on purpose.


    What gives?  Why do they all do this?


    Are they all secretly wishing they were Americans?

    "You´╗┐ people keep on raining. I'll still be the parade." - Diamond Dave.


    Official endorsee of:Breedlove Guitars




    Myspace.com-Dave Aronow

  • #2

    I think they were emulating the black American musicians.


    • Professor Tom
      Professor Tom commented
      Editing a comment
      White Americans did the same thing, trying to recreate black delta blues men.

    • JRicoC
      JRicoC commented
      Editing a comment

      humbuckerstrat wrote:

      I think they were emulating the black American musicians.

      Exactly.  These Brits (Lennon, Plant, Jagger, Bruce/Clapton, et cetera) were emulating and re-creating the black blues artists they preferred; not the Pat Boones, Steve Lawrences and Perry Comos of the day ...

    • Hubert Stumblin
      Hubert Stumblin commented
      Editing a comment

      humbuckerstrat wrote:

      I think they were emulating the black American musicians.


  • #3
    Because music doesn't sell in America unless it sounds American.
    Americans don't trust anything that's not American.
    that's why the Grudge was re-shot with the same supporting cast in the same locations with the same director and with an American actress in the lead role.

    Us Brits have to make do with being the pompous antagonist- even in children's TV.


    • DaleH
      DaleH commented
      Editing a comment

      Engl Kramer wrote:
      Because music doesn't sell in America unless it sounds American.
      Americans don't trust anything that's not American.
      that's why the Grudge was re-shot with the same supporting cast in the same locations with the same director and with an American actress in the lead role.

      Us Brits have to make do with being the pompous antagonist- even in children's TV.


  • #4
    I used to sing in a American accent because that's what singing 'was like'. Almost all the music Id heard whether it was from the US, UK or Japan was sung that way. It wasn't to imitate Americans it was just what you did to sing rock.
    I now feel uncomfortable listening to those recordings and now enjoy singing in my own accent.

    Going back to my original point which you ignored- there are plenty of bands who sing in English accents but you are unlikely to have heard of them since they wont have sold any records in the states.


    • #5

      There is nothing American sounding about Robert Fripp.


      • Surrealistic
        Surrealistic commented
        Editing a comment

        Roy Brooks wrote:

        There is nothing American sounding about Robert Fripp.

        Um.  Have I missed something and just didn't know Fripp can sing?  

    • #6
      Also Dave, rock music from south Africa when sung in English is sung with an American accent. Also rock music from ANY other country.
      I think the reason you believe this to be an English thing is because outside of US and UK music there are far fewer artists/bands that have achieved success worldwide.


      • DaveAronow
        DaveAronow commented
        Editing a comment

        I didn't ignore your initial response, I just didn't get to it yet.


        Yeah, I know other english speaking countries were guilty of It as well, but the Brits being the most apparent based on our exposure to them. And I dissagree with your diagnosis of Americans having a fear of things not American, but I do agree it is that perception that other people have of us which leads them to convince themselves they should try to blend in better.


        I guess I am just looking for verification that this phenomenon is not an accident.


        When I think of some of the great musical GODS that came out of seventies Brittania it just seems really silly to me to think how these otherwise authentically great individuals and groups would have to cheapen themselves a little by selling out on their native accents just to try to make it.

        I'm not naive, I get that all sorts of musical and creative and personal compromises are taking place on a second by second hasis in people's carrers, but to blatantly change your accent seems like a deeper level of integrital dishonesty especially with one's self and the whole practice can be described by one person telling another, if you want to make it, we need you to try to pretend you are someone other than who you really are.


        Its really the same concept, but on a much less impacting scale with things like lip synching or fake bands like The Monkeys just put together to sell something or any number of other examples I can name.


        I mean, why is one type of "fakeness" ok or even encouraged, when others seem to be so despised?



        I envision it as having to sell off a tiny piece of your soul and wonder how many of those guys, and to what extent ever thought about it much or if they ever regretted even a small part of it, and especially if any one of them would have done it even slightly differently if they had been "allowed" to at the time, because if the answer is yes, then there is at least a small part of their being that could be viewed as a sellout. This saddens me to think these great artists ever thought they had to do that and puts a little, admittedly tiny smear on their careers and integrity. I wonder how strange it would be to hear some of those great classics sung in the native accents now that we have heard the American-washed versions of them for so long.


        None of this really bothers me that much and don't really think any less of anyone involved in the practice, but it does add a little salting of cheapness over the whole thing. Especially live, when they finish a song and then start talking to the audience in accents so thick, half of us Americans can only guess at what they are saying.


        So that is where I am at with it and have always wondered if I'm the only person that has ever  even spent more than a second thinking about it, and what do the artists themselves think?

      • *BLEEP*
        *BLEEP* commented
        Editing a comment

        Record producers of big-name "foreign" groups (or solo artists) have always, for several decades going back into the 60s, directed the singing to occur with a neo-american accent of one kind or another for a bit universality.  Eric Burdon, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Klaus Meine, Robert Plant, Paul Rodgers, Ozzie Osbourne, would be a very short list of such examples.  But, there have been exceptions, and there were exceptions early on.  Donovan Leich, Peter Noone, and Marc Bolan would another short list. 


    • #7
      Dave (cant quote cos I'm using my phone) I would bet good money that when you were young(er!) you had long hair.
      how do I know? Because you like hard rock and in the 70s and 80s you had to have it. It was next to impossible to get a gig without it.
      It was part of the whole deal however superficial anyone may have considered it.
      It was just what you did to do rock.
      The only band I can think of to achieve global success singing a non English language is Rammstein. There may be others but not that were really big.
      Most like Scorpions or most European or Japanese bands sing in English cos it sounds right.
      I listen to a lot of music from Europe and some from Japan and even a Welsh speaking Welsh band who sing in English and believe me theyre too uncommercial to be it for sales. How about Bjork?


      • DaveAronow
        DaveAronow commented
        Editing a comment

        Yes, I did have long hair,I had David Lee Roth hair for almost twenty years, but that is a completely different arguement and not at all relevent arguement to what we are talking about. I LOVED having long hair and I started growing my hair n the late seventies as a teenager even at the expense of being made fun of and ridiculed in the rich little preppy jock school I went to because it was thst worth it to me to be trie to myself. I only found out later that all the dudes making fun of me would all lose their girlfriends to me one by one, lol.

        But I had the hair because I wanted it for me, that was really authentic and who I was mentally as well as physically at the time, and I would probably still have long hair today if I was able to grow it.


        Thiis absolutely and completely different than our topic and would only be comparable in the case where someone who did not want long hair, only grew it because they were told they "had to", and then in that case, yes it would be the exact same kind of selling out


        But for me personally, I am a long haired dude down to my soul and to provit, I was offered money many many times by my father to cut it, and I've turned down jobs, even whole careers because I would have had to part with it.  One of the owners at Hooters pulled out 5, 000.00 cash at the restaraunt where my girlfriend worked at the time and offered it to me on the spot if I would cut my hair.  He knew his money was safe though because we were friends and he knew there was no way in hell I would have cut it. As I sit here now, I can tell you I would have turned down 100, 000.00 on the spot at the time as well.


        But to get back to our topic, yes, I agree that all sorts of personal comprimises with one's true self are always raking place, and any one of tgem that is not true to who someone really is, is at least on some level a lie that that person has to live with.


        It seems it is easier for some people to pull off than others. 

      • PurpleTrails
        PurpleTrails commented
        Editing a comment

        The only band I can think of to achieve global success singing a non English language is Rammstein. There may be others but not that were really big.

        You're overlooking a bunch of artists that sing in Spanish, or primarily in Spanish.  Think Shakira, and a whole lot of other solo artists and rock en espanol bands.  You don't listen to them in because anglo stations in the states don't play that sort of music, but they get a lot of airplay here on Spanish language radio, and sell quite well in the USA as well as in Latin America.

    • #8

      There's a  really weird thing about this.  I'm English and I don't know how to sing in an English accent. 

      When I try - and I have tried - I just end up sounding cockney,  and my accent is a long way from cockney. 

      It IS ridiculous that we Brits mostly sing in faux American accents, but I think it's an unconcious thing - just because all the popular music of the mid-late 20th century was originally American. We stole some of it, recycled it and in some cases improved on it but I grew up listening to the radio and hardly heard an English accent, 

      Edited to add:   There ARE some Brits who sing in an English (or Scottish or Welsh) accent.  But they tend to be people with a strong accent of their own.  I always think I don't really have an accent - though I'm sure all Americans would disagree lol



      • #9
        Yes but you get my point that the hair was a statement regardless of whether you liked it or not. In the 70s shaving your head was a statement of Neo nazi association. Growing your hair in the 60s- I read an old Alternative guide to London and there was a picture of a guest house with a sign in the window reading 'no long hairds'.
        Another interesting point- when I was a kid playing pretend games I talked in an American accent (much to my fathers horror). So did my friends in the playground for the same reasons.
        This was because most of the TV and films with cool action and guns and stuff, cartoons etc that we were exposed to were american.
        The music I listened to was all American or was sung that way so I wouldn't have sung in a silly posh accent would I?
        My kids play in a ridiculous American accent too, and they sing in that accent too.
        I don't think its to do with making money or trying to fool anyone hey?


        • DaveAronow
          DaveAronow commented
          Editing a comment

          Yes, I see your point, but once again, the logic is a little forced. Absolutely, if a Brit singing with an American accent is happening because it is who he is inside and he feels he is being true to himself, then fine, but then when he is just reverting right back to the English accent when speaking just contradicts and nullifies the whole arguement.


          Back to the hair example, for example, that would be the equivalent of someone "keepin it real" by donning a wig during shows but pulling the thing off and putting it in a box as soon as he steps off stage.

      • #10
        I think for most people its not any more contrived than singing with vibrato or oohs and yeahs.
        The hair example - most people who like rock an metal wear black. I think its s bit sad coz its such a feckin uniform and to me its like wearing a badge that says 'I'm tough and edgy!'
        This and the musical constipation that mirrors this cliche are why rock largely turns me off these days.
        And part of the tradition is the accent.
        As much as the whole Idea of the driven Marshall stack, the devils horns sign, looking mean in the pictures etc.
        The whole thing is totally Vegas Dave- if you don't get that I'm embarrassed for you mate.


        • #11
          Canadians are the sneakiest. Nickelback has never once mentiond back bacon, toques or called anyone "buddy"


          • kolapsar
            kolapsar commented
            Editing a comment

            Ben Chasny used to sing his solo acoustic stuff in a British accent from listening to Bert Jansch

        • #12

          I don't thin its wanting to be American, but simply trying to emulate the correct sound. It is really no different than opera singers taking Itallian and French diction in college in order to propperly perform the works without an obvious accent. Rock and soul were invented by Americans and as such have a specific sound including vocal inflections. Same thing with country music, without the inflection is it the same thing? Over the years there have been many who've not cared to emulate an American vocal sound though and have created unique genres in and of themselves. Punk for example, I think a big part of the punk sound was the English accent.   

          Will Chen Trio | FrugalGuitarist.com | FG on Facebook | Forum


          • #13

            The notable exceptions to this "sound American" theory are punk bands.  The Sex Pistols vocals NEVER sounded remotely American .  Hell, for that matter, a lot of American punk bands tried to sound British.


            • #14

              To us Brits American accents sound really cool. It is the accent of the movies, a place we aspire to be, better than the "know your place" grey misery of Britain, with it's (as an American friend put it) "stupid little cars and stupid little roads and stupid little houses." Britain was, and is, so inhibited and provincial.

              We wanted sun, swimming pools and Chevrolets, and if we couldn't have them at least we could have the accent.

              Conversely when I am in the US I think "Am I the only person who doesn't have an accent?" and ironically the Americans think I am the only one who has one!

              There have been cultural exchanges though. We gave you a Davy Jones english accent and you gave us Dick Van Dyck english accent... we surrendered, no choice






              • Danhedonia
                Danhedonia commented
                Editing a comment

                No, the notable exception is the Smiths.


            • #15

              I remember the first gig I did with a 5-piece hard rock band I was in a few years ago. Our singer (who was very obnoxious with negligible musical talent) sang in an American kind of way, which was fine, because we were kind of a GnR style rip-off and I didn't care about the band that much.
              But at this first gig he decided to speak in between songs with a bad American accent. The rest of us were horrified. I could see my friends in the audience looking at each other and cringing. It was so uncool. I'm not in that band any more.