If you turn on the radio these days (I know right? Who does that anymore?) you’re more than likely to hear a singer who doesn’t call USA home. The pop charts have been flooded with music from British artists that have become immensely popular in our fine country. What is it about Brits that we love so much? Do we have another British (music) invasion on our hands? Well here are some of the most popular British artists compared to their American counterparts.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard an Adele song before. The height of her success is something most artists can only dream of. Her two albums 19 and 21 have gone Platinum in countries all over the world. She has eight Grammys and just won her first Golden Globe for Best Original Song just a couple weekends ago. The reason why she is so successful in the US is because she has filled the void of powerhouse vocalist that our music industry is missing. Her lyrics, her voice, and her musicianship is all she needs to capture an audience, which is something so rare in an age of theatrical Katy Perrys and Lady GaGas. When you think of Adele, you think of her voice, only few US artists have this same distinction. Our American counterparts to Adele are vocal divas like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. But are they as relevant as Adele is today? Not so much.
It’s been a while since a boy band has caused such a commotion over here in the States. The only other boy bands that exist are manufactured by Disney or Nickelodeon. Big Time Rush and The Jonas Brothers don’t make the same waves as the British alternative One Direction does. If you rationalize like a fourteen year old girl does, you’d instantly see that the cuteness ratio of One Direction is much higher than any other boy band that’s preceded them. Harry, Niall, Zayn, Liam, and Louis are household names now because of their catchy pop songs, “cheeky” (that’s British lingo for cool or sly) music videos, and an endless array of official merchandise. But in spite of all that, the fans just love the honesty and goofiness of these five boys. Just search YouTube or Tumblr and you’ll find “Directioners” talking about each different friendship between the guys, or even micro-analyzing their interviews for glimpses into the band member’s personal lives. Social media has helped propel this band into heights N’Sync & Backstreet Boys have never reached. I’ve got to give kudos to Simon Cowell for finding this unexpected group on “The X Factor”, because now he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
While Lady GaGa is off touring and Lana Del Rey is struggling to find US commercial radio success, Marina & The Diamonds has filled the position of melodramatic pop princess. “Primadonna” was her first song to hit US airwaves and it’s no surprise why people have gravitated toward the rest of her music. “Primadonna” was produced by Dr. Luke, a well-known hit maker who has worked with literally all of America’s girl pop stars. Her moody music is enthralling and unique, even if the pop formula remains the same. What makes Marina stand out are her witty lyrics that touch deep subjects in a sarcastic way. When you combine that with her stunning beauty, an original look, trendy dubstep pop music, and a British accent, you have a certified sensation. She outshines Lana with her versatility, and at the same time she is not as weird as GaGa.
When it comes to acoustic pop, there aren’t very many mainstream American artists to choose from. Jason Mraz has past his prime, and Bruno Mars is heading into a soft rock direction. So naturally, British native Ed Sheeran swooped in with his angelic voice and humble lyrics. “The A-Team” has received over 50 million views on YouTube, not to mention he’s pals with One Direction and even penned there smash “Little Things”. You can also hear Ed on a duet with Taylor Swift called “Everything Has Changed”. Ed is a brand new artist mind you, and he already has an overwhelming following. What makes him so popular is his raw, unapologetic, and real music. His album is chock full of controversial topics, from prostitution to drugs. Listen to “The A-Team” for a tragic, enlightening love story hitting on those themes.
The UK version of “The X Factor” has been pumping out pop stars better and faster than its US equivalent, and Cher Lloyd is no exception. She’s funky, fresh, fun, and full of surprises. Compare her to our Disney manufactured singers like Bridgit Mendler and Selena Gomez. Cher has better live vocal chops, better dance moves, a knack for spitting the occasional rhyme, and a bubbly personality that’s impossible to overlook. With chart toppers like “Want U Back”, “With Ur Love”, and “Oath” (another Dr. Luke produced track), she’s a force to reckoned with at age 19.
Pop princesses come and go, but when it comes to pop divas, Kylie Minogue takes the crown for staying relevant throughout her 34 year career. With eleven studio albums, and a plethora of greatest hits compilations, Kylie has refused to let age define her career. Now at 44, she looks amazing, performs amazing, and gives Madonna a run for her money. While Madonna’s latest album MDNA was not well received, Kylie’s Aphrodite earned high praise from critics across the board. Kylie is much more likeable than Madonna has ever been, and it shows in her effervescent dance music. Listen to “Timebomb” to hear that Kylie can work it like any other pop provocateur out there.
If you’re still not convinced that the British haven’t taken over our music, then look no further than BRITney Spears. Yes, I know that her hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana is nowhere near jolly old England, but that doesn’t change the country’s influence on her music. Take “Scream & Shout” for example, where Spears sings a pre-chorus in a sexy British accent over a club beat. This isn’t even the first time she’s expressed her love for the UK. Listen to “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” on her last album Femme Fatale, watch the London-based music video of “Criminal”, or even hear Selena Gomez sing the Britney-written song “Whiplash” which features more Redcoat accents. If American musicians are willing to ditch their native tongue for swanky sounding accents, then I think it’s safe to say the Brits are back! The question is: do we like this trend? Or do we need a follow up of “Party In The USA” from Miley Cyrus to remind us of our love for all things American?
By Joseph Gooding
images from kylie.com (Parlaphone Records), cherllyod.com (Epic Records), facebook.com/EdSheeranMusic (Asylum Records), adele.tv (Columbia Records), onedirectionmusic.com (Sony Music Entertainment) marinaandthediamonds.com (Atlantic Records), edited by Joseph Gooding