Great Bands, Singers and Best Songs with a British Accent.
The Genre of Music with a British Accent
Every now and then a musician from the Britain Isles creates a piece of music, a sound, a ballad, a set of lyrics that is original - different from anything else out there (usually from the USA)
It is absolutely new.
Sometimes, when this happens, the singer's accent is 'English' (or Scottish or Irish or Welsh). It is not American. The poetry of the sound is peculiarly British. It says I'm from Britain cos I'm different; often a little "bit weird", or, "I live in the woods round a maypole" or "my father was a window cleaner", or even from a group of "toffs in a housing estate".
Unlike their brothers and sisters on the other side of the Atlantic whose voices and guitar playing come from ridin' through the sage, from standing by a hangin' tree, driving, driving through the night, in the rain, through Nebraska, sweatin' dark an' dirty in New Orleans or over 'Nam. Just listen to Neil Young, Billy Holiday, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Ronettes, Jimi Hendrix etc etc etc.
Those guys have grit or smooth in their voices, stronger sun 'n winds, souls born from souls who lived and were striven, tux'd souls from Sunset Boulevard, from the back doors in The Hood, those musicians who were, who are, who always will be A-me- r - i can. Their music contains the drama and the poetry and the spirit of the American story - with the accent which makes their sound aw -right.
The U S of A accent that puts rock in your roll, rides your pony. Dude.
British singers with their British accent just don't do that. Their music and sounds are particularly different.
They're telling a British story.
Woodstock 1969. The Incredible String Band, a psychedelic folk band from Scotland performed a couple of their best pieces, with quite noticeable English accents, . Garlands in their braids, folk hippies, they pronounced each word 'diff er en -t- ly' - as only fairies and ancient wood's people on the best acid would. They were 'fr eeeeeeeeeeee' and 'beautiful - beyond compare'.
It's a long video, but it's the real thing. If you compare their act to everyone else's (ie. Blood Sweat and Tears, Credence Clearwater, Joan Baez etc) you get the 'difference' picture.
Then came The Beatles.
Did you Know this About Led Zeppelin?
'Stairway to Heaven' has played on the radio more than any other piece of music?
Back to back, rumor has it, the playing of it would last 40 years.
Robert Plant is English - and you can't hear his British accent at all, mate.
The Other British Groups.
Other British groups of the time, even blockbusting ones like the Rolling Stones and The Who (except for their chart topping "Happy Jack" release), and even Joe Cocker didn't usually use their British accents. Mick Jagger's "Angie" must be the most famous example of this. If he'd sung "Angie" with a British accent, what would it have sounded like? Not half as sexy for sure.
Pink Floyd were British sounding most of the time. They sort of say England don't they? With the school kids shouting 'Another Brick in the Wall'. (The word 'Wall' is said with a W at the end, not an L...very London). There is a long version of 'The Wall' on youtube, but here is the shorter one.
English Accent Sound
Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red", has to have a mention; the soft, long sound of 'dance' sung just as most people might say the word 'dance' in UK, romantically, with a rounder 'a' than other bands would have dared to (Police, Gensis, Eurythmics, Portis Head and on and on)
Generally, if you are British and you want to sing rock, or pop or modern of any sort, or jazz, even rap, and you don't want to be copying American (USA) bands, (and since lets face it, you don't have US of A in your bones) and you want to be doing your own music, not very original these days, I have noticed that you do it with a transcontinental accent. Listen to any British band, or solo singer since The Beatles and you can hardly detect where they are from. Check a small selection of even very individual sounding British musicians like:Tom Jones, The Cranberries, Kate Bush, Duffy, Hot Chip or recently Amy Winehouse.
I'm even going to stretch out a point here, with audacity and claim that, (in my opinion), they and thousands of other acts need to sing with an American accent - to make their music more legit, to connect it, intrinsically, to the style it was born from in the US; to make it sound American. (because perhaps in a British accent the song would sound gutless and silly). If the vowels are American, the feelings fit.
There is one big original British band out now. They don't care about any of this accent business. They have their own and it's good and strong. They shout it at you. Use it to make their point. It is 'Arctic Monkey'. Working class British, take-it-or leave it; they sing like they've got nothing to lose - so take your f...ing clothes off - raw, true and brave. 'Elbow' is another band of lads who just go for it, British style, broad Manchester accent (though they sometimes lapse transcontinental too).
Arctic Monkey. THIS IS BRITISH TODAY!
Windmills of your Mind
Here is a song, also a beautiful poem, sung by a British singer, Noel Harrison, with a perfectly ordinary British accent - also the theme music to the movie 'The Thomas Crown Affair'.
It is 'The Windmills of your Mind'. When was the last time you heard that sort of accent in music?
© 2011 Penelope Hart