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  #1  
Old 05-23-2007, 12:08 PM
diggleblop diggleblop is offline
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Why do British people lose their accent when they sing?

I've noticed throughout the years that a lot of Brits lose their accent when they sing. Eric Clapton, Freddie Mercury, The Beatles, Coldplay and the list goes on and on. Tons of English people seem to have no English accent when carrying a tune.

Has this phenomenon been studied and concluded?

If there is no factual answer to this, I apologize and I reckon a mod will move it accordingly.
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  #2  
Old 05-23-2007, 12:28 PM
MrFloppy MrFloppy is offline
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IANAA (I am not an American).

The Beatles are a very bad example. There are many Beatles songs where you can hear the Fab Four's scouse accent.

Off the top of my head - Polythene Pam from Abbey Rd.

Phil Collins is a bit cockney in several Genesis and solo songs (I can't Dance is one)

I just watched Coldplay on inHD and I can hear an accent in some songs.

Corrinne Bailey Rae has a Yorkshire accent that I can hear in some songs.

I know what you mean however and have no answer. By the same token, couldn't you say that when you hear an American singer, you can't tell his/her nationality either?

Basia is Polish and you can certainly hear her accent.

Last edited by MrFloppy; 05-23-2007 at 12:29 PM..
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  #3  
Old 05-23-2007, 12:29 PM
Barrington Barrington is offline
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I think there is a factual answer, but first I'll question your use of the phrase "lose their accent". How would you feel if I asked you to "lose your accent"? If you decided to do that, how would you sound?

But, reading between the lines, I suspect that you're talking about singers adopting different accents than their natural, speaking ones while they're singing. And this is, indeed, common. In particular, British singers often adopt an American accent while singing, simply because the song they're singing is of American origin and they're trying to copy it, or perhaps the genre, to them, is of American style. I dislike the practice, but it's extremely common.

In a band I was in, we had a singer - a very capable singer, actually - who did this. It was a cover band, and one of our staples was "Love On The Rocks" by Neil Diamond. Because the singer adopted a Diamondesque accent for the song, we routinely referred to it as "Love On The Racks", which is how it sounds to British ears.

Knowing more now about American vocabulary than I did back then, I now realise that "Love On The Racks" has an unconscious erotic subtext ... but I digress.
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Old 05-23-2007, 12:31 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Listen to a choir from deepest Wales sing and compare the sound with a choir from Yorkshire. Very different.
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  #5  
Old 05-23-2007, 12:46 PM
St_Ides St_Ides is offline
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Coldplay... No accent?

Are you high? They have the biggest accent around, I can't listen to them because the accent bothers me so much because it's so very strong. (Not to mention I hate the tone of the guys voice... And the lyrics... And the instrumental work... Actually, just about everything)
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  #6  
Old 05-23-2007, 12:49 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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A lot of what we perceive as an accent has to do with emphasis on certain syllables, which often gets lost in the melody of a song. But if you listen to how the vowels are pronounced, the accent comes thru.

Lovely Rita, meter maid, for instance, doesn't quite work with an American accent (mee-ter instead of mee-tah). Unless you're from Boston, that is.

Last edited by John Mace; 05-23-2007 at 12:50 PM..
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Old 05-23-2007, 12:49 PM
RedSwinglineOne RedSwinglineOne is offline
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I think to some degree there is a slight lessening of any particular accent when you sing because , you generally try to cleanly hit each note and hold it. I believe at least some of what we perceive as an accent is the inflection, which is lessened when singing. I think country singers sound less country when they sing than when they talk because they sing with less 'twang'. Oddly enough, (or maybe not) they use more 'twang' in their guitar playing.
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Old 05-23-2007, 12:56 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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The bigger question is, why do I always GAIN a British accent when I sing? I blame formal choral lessons in high school combined with listening to a lot of Prog rock in those formative years. I've worked my butt off to try to affect an American accent ever since.
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Old 05-23-2007, 01:05 PM
MrFloppy MrFloppy is offline
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I'm wondering if this is peculiar to Americans.

Going back to my Polythene Pam example, John sings the lyric "you could say she was attractively built" in his best Liverpudlian but I'm wondering if a non-Brit could distinguish it.

Good question. I wait with bated breath for the correct answer.
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  #10  
Old 05-23-2007, 01:09 PM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party is offline
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Liam Gallagher's a good counterexample - he's got a pretty thick Mancunian accent even when singing (listen to how he sings "looking" in Cigarettes and Alcohol, for example).
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  #11  
Old 05-23-2007, 01:10 PM
Balance Balance is offline
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There is some evidence that music and language are processed (in part) in separate areas of the brain. (See this paper (PDF), for example.) Speech therapists have also noted that people with certain speech impediments, like stuttering, do not always display those impediments while singing.

I would suggest that in some cases, the difference between a singer's normal accent and the accent with which they sing a song is due to the way they learn the song. If you learn a song by listening to someone with a different accent from your own, you may tend to sing it in their accent because your brain processes it as "melody" rather than "speech". If a singer mostly does covers of songs that were originally sung with a different accent, I suppose this could become habitual, and carry over to original songs. For the most part, however, I would expect singers to display their normal accents in performing their own original works or songs learned from others that share their accent.

On an anecdotal note--I'm a natural mimic, and pick up accents at the drop of a hat. I have found that if I actually pay attention to the lyrics of a song I'm singing, they may warp the accent I sing in. For example, the song "House of Bamboo" refers to a person called "Soho Joe". If I let myself think about that, I find myself singing with a distinct London (and somewhat Soho-specific) accent. If I'm not paying attention to what I'm singing, it comes out in the same accent as the original song. (My "natural" accent, by the way, is generally identified as mid-western US, although I've never lived there--it's really a mish-mash that people can't place.)
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  #12  
Old 05-23-2007, 01:54 PM
diggleblop diggleblop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St_Ides
Coldplay... No accent?

Are you high? They have the biggest accent around, I can't listen to them because the accent bothers me so much because it's so very strong. (Not to mention I hate the tone of the guys voice... And the lyrics... And the instrumental work... Actually, just about everything)

Are you serious? I hear absolutely no British accent in their songs. Name a song that has a good amount of British accent in it for me to listen to. Because otherwise, you would think the guy was from LA as opposed to England, because I don't hear an accent and I have a very good ear, not to mention I'm also a musician and singer myself.
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  #13  
Old 05-23-2007, 01:59 PM
diggleblop diggleblop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barrington
I think there is a factual answer, but first I'll question your use of the phrase "lose their accent". How would you feel if I asked you to "lose your accent"? If you decided to do that, how would you sound?

I see what you mean. I guess I could've been a little more specific. But I am an American and when I listen to certain (if not all) British/English musicians sing, they all sound like they're American.

I used to have a funny saying, well, I guess I still say it now and then. But it goes, "You know what's weird, all these great American rock bands that have changed your musical life throughout the 60's and the 70's? Well, the weird thing is is that they're all British."
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  #14  
Old 05-23-2007, 02:17 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Of course there's some cases where Brits deliberately ape generic American accents. But also a lot of the 'sounding American' is purely a style of singing, causing vowels to sound in a way which happens to coincide with American ones. Both contradicting and agreeing with John Mace, I suppose - only a few vowels need to change from normal speech for this unintentional effect to occur.

Arctic Monkeys are another example to add to the list of very clearly not singing in a toned-down bland accent, and (as with Liam Gallagher mentioned above) revelling in their own - rhyming 'stomach' with 'summat' is pretty impressive.
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  #15  
Old 05-23-2007, 02:31 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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According to a post in the thread regarding which English accent is considered to indicate social superiority, the English are engaged in a great conspiracy to fool Americans.

That is, among themselves they speak just like we do but when a Yank shows up they go into their act.

Probably when they sing they think we won't notice the change in accent.

Last edited by David Simmons; 05-23-2007 at 02:32 PM..
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  #16  
Old 05-23-2007, 02:35 PM
MrFloppy MrFloppy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diggleblop
Are you serious? I hear absolutely no British accent in their songs. Name a song that has a good amount of British accent in it for me to listen to. Because otherwise, you would think the guy was from LA as opposed to England, because I don't hear an accent and I have a very good ear, not to mention I'm also a musician and singer myself.
There doesn't have to be a 'good amount' of accent. As a Brit, I can hear the smallest amount which is why I think this is peculiar to US listeners. Random Coldplay song selected on my trusty iPod - In My Place - track 2 from A Rush of Blood. His pronunciation of the word 'Must' as in "how long must you wait" etc. is not someting you would hear in LA.

If you can't hear the accent throughout 'The Scientist' then I don't know if you ever will.

I also have an excellent ear and am also a musician.
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  #17  
Old 05-23-2007, 03:14 PM
Figaro Figaro is offline
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Most singers lose at least some of their regional accent when they sing unless they deliberately try to maintain it. Singing with the same approach to language one uses in speech usually results in a garbled and unattractive mess.

Singing distorts language (greatly lengthened syllables and vowel sounds, slower time frame, far more attention to weak syllables, etc.), and so you have to simplify it just to make it sound "normal" to someone listening. The degree to which language gets "fixed" in singing varies, of course, and in some genres the deliberate maintainance of an accent is part of the style -- American Country music, for instance.

Take the American pronunciation of the word "are." Most Americans pronounce it the same way as the letter "r." But if you sing it that way you sound either like a bad pirate or someone swallowing his tongue. So, Americans tend to move it towards the vowel "ah" instead, which is how the British pronounce the word anyway.

Similarly, diphthongs tend to get minimized in singing as well, which is why sung English doesn't exactly sound like spoken British English either, which tends to heavily emphasize certain diphthongs (think of the sound of the British word "no" -- there are usually at least 3 different vowel sounds in there when spoken, but not usually when sung).

So, unless the spoken accent has a lot of currency in the style (rap, punk, country, others), most singing tends to occupy a middle-ground between regional accent and something much more neutral.
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Old 05-23-2007, 03:17 PM
xnylder xnylder is offline
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Elton John's accent has particularly confused me over the years. Am I making a gross over-generalization by saying he's tried to sound American in the past? I mean, when I listen to "Crocodile Rock" or "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", I get the impression that the protagonist of the song is American and that Elton is trying to emphasize that with a kind of modified accent. More recently, though, he seems to be using a more British accent. For example, I think his British accent sounds more pronounced in the Diana version of "Candle in the Wind" than the original Marilyn one.
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  #19  
Old 05-23-2007, 03:42 PM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diggleblop
Are you serious? I hear absolutely no British accent in their songs. Name a song that has a good amount of British accent in it for me to listen to.
Not Coldplay, but here's some examples of other songs/artists to sample for accents (not necessarily British):

- the choir in Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall", plus some of Roger Water's Pink Floyd catalog (esp. "Time", "Money"). Waters would also de-emphasize his speaking accent at times (e.g. "Young Lust")

- much of Jethro Tull's catalog (e. g. "Locomotive Breath", "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day", "Thick As a Brick", "Teacher")

- much of Herman's Hermits' catalog (e.g. "Ms. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter")

- AC/DC's Bon Scott catalog (e.g. "Dirty Deed Done Dirt Cheap", "T.N.T."). I think Brian Johnson's delivery effectively stamps out his Austratian speaking accent.
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  #20  
Old 05-23-2007, 05:14 PM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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To hear even thicker regional accents, try the Proclaimers or the Pogues - no mistake about where they sing from.

Si
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  #21  
Old 05-23-2007, 05:41 PM
MrFloppy MrFloppy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz
Listen to a choir from deepest Wales sing and compare the sound with a choir from Yorkshire. Very different.
Yes definitely.

"Ay up, we'll keep a welcome in t'hillside lad".
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  #22  
Old 05-23-2007, 05:51 PM
rocksolid rocksolid is offline
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I'm not a musician and i don't even claim to have a particularly good ear, so take my comments for whatever they're worth.

I'm surprised at the responses to the OP. Yes there are notable exceptions but i never think of Brits (i assume the OP didn't mean to single out the English) singing in an American accent, i just hear Brits, Americans and most other native English speakers singing in a sort of neutral accent that is pretty universal. The only real difference i hear is when non-native English speakers sing (afore mentioned exceptions aside).

I'm definately on the side of those who suggest that accents are lost because the emphasis is based on the melody more than the way a word is normally pronounced in your natural tongue.

Do you Americans really notice the American accent when Americans sing? I mean, being a Brit i couldn't tell but can you guys generally tell which part of the US a singer is from just by listening to them sing?

If so i guess i'm wrong and it's probably due to over-exposure. Same reason it sounds funny to hear a Scots accent on the television because i almost only watch American TV!
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  #23  
Old 05-23-2007, 06:50 PM
Baffle Baffle is offline
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If you listen to Americans sing, they 'lose their accent' too. Properly sung English is non-rhotic for everybody, at least, and when R's are pronouncd it sounds out of place. My own personal hypothesis is that singing is accentless.
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  #24  
Old 05-23-2007, 08:43 PM
rock party rock party is offline
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When my cousins from Florida would visit, I could clearly hear their "southern" accent. Our neighboors from Rhode Island had their own accent. My family and I did not have an accent if you consider how they talked on TV growing up as being without an accent. Elton John's older singing sounded like they talked on TV. So did many other singers from England. Yes there were exceptions...some of the Beatles songs...Pink Floyd...and of course the Sex Pistols. So it's possible to sing with some type of English accent loud and clear and strong...the question is why they didn't. (Cher by the way, has an Elvis accent..lol)
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Old 05-23-2007, 08:50 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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There have been a lot of threads on this subject, but this is the only one I can find at the moment:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=143197
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  #26  
Old 05-23-2007, 09:34 PM
St_Ides St_Ides is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diggleblop
Are you serious? I hear absolutely no British accent in their songs. Name a song that has a good amount of British accent in it for me to listen to. Because otherwise, you would think the guy was from LA as opposed to England, because I don't hear an accent and I have a very good ear, not to mention I'm also a musician and singer myself.
I really, really avoid their music whenever possible, but the song I always heard on the radio that sparked my initial hate: Yellow. And I can only remember the first one or two lines of the song... But they have a really, really strong accent. The "I"s and especially the word "yellow".

I'm no musician, but I'm pretty good with accents... And they have a very strong one.

Oh, and "Speed of Sound" has it too. Although I'm not really familiar with the original version, just the trance mix that my friends insist on listening to, combining two of my most major hates in music: Coldplay and trance "music"

Last edited by St_Ides; 05-23-2007 at 09:36 PM..
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  #27  
Old 05-23-2007, 10:37 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is online now
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I wondering if, for the most part, the OP is talking about older British singers (Clapton, Beatles) who will come right out and tell you their #1 influence is American blues. They grew up literally mimicking American blues music. I bet Robert Plant would agree to the same.

Freddie Mercury, while not a trained opera singer, was obviously influenced by opera singers and mimicked them.

Current bands seem to be less influenced by American music - maybe more influenced by Herman's Hermits? - and they all sound pretty much British to me. And by "current" I would even cite the Police.
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  #28  
Old 05-24-2007, 12:31 AM
Indistinguishable Indistinguishable is offline
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The Beatles' "Only A Northern Song" always seemed to me a particularly noticeable example of at least one feature of George Harrison's particular accent. Always sounds to my ears something like "It doesn't really matter what clothes I were, or how I fur, or if my her is brown..."

Other than that, my only contributions to this thread are... yeah, British rock singers are often purposely aping American accents; all the same, British singers don't suddenly develop alveolar flapping or Mary-marry-merry mergers or caught-cot mergers or lose intrusive 'r' when singing; vowel qualities are the easiest way to notice accent differences; um, Americans are often trained to sing non-rhotically even if they speak rhotically; and, uh, most importantly: no such thing as not having an accent, and even the notion of having a strong vs. weak accent can only be relative to what the listener is expecting or used to.

There, that should cover it.

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 05-24-2007 at 12:36 AM..
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  #29  
Old 05-24-2007, 04:03 AM
Staggerlee Staggerlee is offline
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Unless it's just my hangover, nobody seems to have mentioned the Rolling Stones, who are a prime example of a British band aping the Americans. They shamelessly adopt the American blues/rock and roll style.

And maybe tellingly, they're from a relatively posh art school background. I feel that an American twang is often adopted to counteract the inherrent staidness of the English sound, while some bands consciously hang on to their regional sound to provide a bit of true grit.

I prefer the bourgeois American-alikes.
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  #30  
Old 05-24-2007, 07:58 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
...plus some of Roger Water's Pink Floyd catalog (esp. "Time", "Money"). Waters would also de-emphasize his speaking accent at times (e.g. "Young Lust")
Nitpick: Roger Waters doesn't sing on any of those songs. Gilmour sings Young Lust and Money and the verses of Time. Rick Wright sings the chorus of Time with Gilmour harmonising.

I agree that singing tends to produce some kind of neutral accent. I normally (with numerous exceptions) can't tell the nationality of an artist.
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Old 05-24-2007, 08:04 AM
Angua Angua is offline
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Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray"
I agree that singing tends to produce some kind of neutral accent. I normally (with numerous exceptions) can't tell the nationality of an artist.
I think that it may depend on how and where a particular singer learnt to sing. A friend of mine is Scottish and has a strong Scottish accent that comes through somewhat even when she speaks French. However, she's also a classically trained singer, and when she sings, she sounds Russian. Guess where she trained? Moscow.
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Old 05-24-2007, 09:10 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray"
Nitpick: Roger Waters doesn't sing on any of those songs. Gilmour sings Young Lust and Money and the verses of Time. Rick Wright sings the chorus of Time with Gilmour harmonising.


Thanks for the catch.
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  #33  
Old 05-24-2007, 09:52 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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I don't have actual cites, but the phenomenon happens elsewhere. Rosa, winner of the first Operación Triunfo, has an Andalusian accent you could carve glass with when speaking but can "do" any accent in the world when singing (she's the one who went to Eurovision with "Europe is living a celebration", I think it was called). When she's singing in English, she has the accent of whomever taught her the song, which makes sense since her English is about nonexistant.

There was a blurb on TV a couple years back talking of a study that showed people use different parts of our mind to sing and to speak.
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Old 05-24-2007, 10:03 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diggleblop
I've noticed throughout the years that a lot of Brits lose their accent when they sing. Eric Clapton, Freddie Mercury, The Beatles, Coldplay and the list goes on and on. Tons of English people seem to have no English accent when carrying a tune.
No, I'm not replying with "not always, so you're wrong." Still, the question reminds me of a thread I started not too long ago.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=411586

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  #35  
Old 05-24-2007, 10:23 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksolid
Do you Americans really notice the American accent when Americans sing? I mean, being a Brit i couldn't tell but can you guys generally tell which part of the US a singer is from just by listening to them sing?
It depends.

If you listen to older country music, where the singing isn't as pronounced -- it sounds like something between speech and singing, like talking with a lyrical inflection -- it's easier to narrow down the twang to Southern, Texas, or Appalachian. I find it's harder to do with modern country music; the singing and twang are more pronounced. Even country musicians from Canada, like Shania Twain, will perform with a twang.

Except for the use of "y'all", singers in Southern rock bands really don't sound Southern to my ears. One exception: ZZ Top, which truly sounds Texan to my ears. Steve Miller, though, doesn't sound Texan.

The first time I ever heard Barenaked Ladies and Moxy Fruvous, I knew immediately that they were Canadian. Still, Rush, Triumph, Cowboy Junkies, Sloan and many others don't really sound Canadian to me.
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Old 05-24-2007, 05:05 PM
11811 11811 is offline
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Some thoughts on this phenomenon:

It's not just the accent, it's the vocabulary in lots of cases. I suspect that if you reviewed the Beatles or Stones' catalog by topic, you'd see more Britishisms crop up in the songs with the strongest British accents.

British musicians at the upper end of the age range grew up on American blues, R&B, pop, etc. If Eric Clapton is singing a blues song, what accent would seem most appropriate? Hint: it's not the BBC news hour accent.

Pop music the way I think of it originated in America. To me that makes "USA English/American English" the default language and accent for pop.

The biggest market for pop music is the USA. It may help sales (although I don't think that's a conscious decision) to tone down the accent.

And a question: what happens to the accents of Spanish speakers when they sing rock music?
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Old 05-24-2007, 08:58 PM
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All I know is that I'm not terribly accented in normal speaking, but when I sing, I come out with a very Billy Gibbons-esque (ZZ Top) accent.

Which I guess makes sense, since we're both from Houston, but it's still odd to me that the accent only really comes out when I sing.

As for today's country, I think there's a certain accent that they try to get- sort of a "Country RP" if you will. That's what it sounds like to me anyway.
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  #38  
Old 05-25-2007, 02:09 AM
Hippy Hollow Hippy Hollow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZipperJJ
I wondering if, for the most part, the OP is talking about older British singers (Clapton, Beatles) who will come right out and tell you their #1 influence is American blues. They grew up literally mimicking American blues music. I bet Robert Plant would agree to the same.

Freddie Mercury, while not a trained opera singer, was obviously influenced by opera singers and mimicked them.

Current bands seem to be less influenced by American music - maybe more influenced by Herman's Hermits? - and they all sound pretty much British to me. And by "current" I would even cite the Police.
This is the explanation I've often heard. British musicians in the 50s and 60s tended to find their muse in American R&B and blues and thus mimicked the accents that the singers in those songs had. The reaction would be bands like the Kinks who emphasized their Englishness. Then you had the sound of the early 70s - the smooth rock sounds of bands like 10cc when the pendulum swung back to the mid-American sound, then punk, and it's embrace of regional accents. I would wager that the seminal bands of 80s in Britain sounded quite British.

What's funny now is that a lot of up and coming bands that my friends listen to try to sound British here in America.

I've always been amazed by the singing transformation of Scottish singers. I can think of three - Midge Ure, Gerry Rafferty, and Jim Kerr - who sound quite "American" (maybe less so with Kerr, but the stuff Simple Minds did when they were huge in America might qualify) but their speaking voices are so radically different. As well as the number of White British artists whose voices are so seemingly unmistakably Black-sounding: Mick Hucknall, Dusty Springfield, Rick Astley, and more recently, Joss Stone.
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  #39  
Old 05-25-2007, 02:36 AM
One And Only Wanderers One And Only Wanderers is offline
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Try the Arctic Monkeys. There's no doubt that the lead singer is from Sheffield. None whatsoever.
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  #40  
Old 05-25-2007, 04:08 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Originally Posted by One And Only Wanderers
Try the Arctic Monkeys. There's no doubt that the lead singer is from Sheffield. None whatsoever.
Bloody northerners, can't be bothered to read a whole thread
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  #41  
Old 05-25-2007, 05:22 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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I was listening to the Beatles at a very young age (like, 5 - my dad played them all the time) and I remember he used to have me pick out which of them was singing. I used to think that Paul McCartney was American. "Paul is British?" I asked my dad in surprise when he explained the band's history to me. I had been exposed to Monty Python back then and I had a good idea of what a British person sounded like compared to an American. I thought Paul sounded totally American.
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Old 05-25-2007, 06:28 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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To be fair, the Python lot don't exactly sound the same as a typical scouser!
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Old 05-26-2007, 10:31 AM
diggleblop diggleblop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFloppy
There doesn't have to be a 'good amount' of accent. As a Brit, I can hear the smallest amount which is why I think this is peculiar to US listeners. Random Coldplay song selected on my trusty iPod - In My Place - track 2 from A Rush of Blood. His pronunciation of the word 'Must' as in "how long must you wait" etc. is not something you would hear in LA.

If you can't hear the accent throughout 'The Scientist' then I don't know if you ever will.

I also have an excellent ear and am also a musician.

Sorry, but I just don't hear it. The guy sounds like he's straight out of Kansas, not England.

Overall, my point is, if you had no idea where Coldplay was from, the average listener wouldn't be able to tell they were English. Test it out. Find someone who doesn't know about Coldplay (like an older person) and play a few songs for them, then ask them where they sound like they're from. I just did it to my mom and she said with a questionable glare, "Seattle?"
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Old 05-26-2007, 11:30 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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When the Beatles first landed in New York in 1964, they had a press conference.

Reporter: Why do you sing like Americans but speak with an English accent?
Lennon: It sells better.
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Old 05-26-2007, 11:49 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diggleblop
Sorry, but I just don't hear it. The guy sounds like he's straight out of Kansas, not England.
Even in "Yellow"?

Another one -- you know that 80s hit "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners? Listen to the opening verse "Poor old Johnny Ray". Does that sound like it could have come from a Kansan, or a Bostonian, or a Jamaican, or pretty much any English speaker?

Yet another: can you pick out Bob Marley's accent in his songs?
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Old 05-26-2007, 12:01 PM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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I missed the 5-minute Edit deadline. So I'll add:

Quote:
Overall, my point is, if you had no idea where Coldplay was from, the average listener wouldn't be able to tell they were English.
Depends on the song, I'd wager ... I don't know Coldplay's catalog very well. But in the Coldplay I have heard (the radio hits like "Clocks" and "Yellow"), the singer sounds very distinctly British.

What's the average listener, anyway? How familiar is the average listener with various English accents? With modern media, I'd think the average listener can discern this stuff better than you might expect.

All that said, there are loads of cases in which a singer puts on some "other than their own" accent when performing. British singers have done/do it, Australians, Canadians ... and, yes, Americans, too (see early Green Day). The change in accent a lot like putting on a different coat and hat and adopting a different persona.
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Old 05-26-2007, 02:28 PM
seosamh seosamh is offline
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I'm always slightly taken aback when Mick Jagger sings "Ruby Tuesday" and doesn't sing it "Toos-day".
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