Do people in England think their singers sound "American"?

Do people in England think that their pop singers sing with an American accent? And if they do, do they find it annoying?

It seems that ever since I was a little kid, I would often times hear a band, think that they are from the US (because they seemed to sing with an American accent), then find out that they are from England. Of course, there are bands that you can tell right away they are from Great Britain. I can only think of one American Band (Green Day) in which the singer sings with a British accent.
Answers please!

Accents are less prounounced when singing. Listen to the Beatles talking (especially the early Beatles) and compare it with their singing voices.

The British ideas of an American accent often sounds very bizarre to Americans (and vice versa). John Cleese does one in MONTY PYTHON’S MEANING OF LIFE that doesn’t sound like one at all and in the old DR. WHO episode “The Chase,” there’s someone trying to do a New York accent who ends up sounding like someone from another planet.

There was also a British BBC series (either SPROCKETS or FLICKERS) that tried to portray a Jewish film executive who constantly said “Oy vey” with the emphasis all wring. (It should be oy-VEY; he said it OY VEY.)

It’s not just the brits- pick up a copy of Bob Marley’s “Talkin Blue”. Its real easy to understand him when he’s singing, almost impossible to decipher when he’s talking.

I think the answers so far are missing the point. I also think that British singer often sound like Americans (at least to my non-native, German ear). Most prominently, they often use a rhotic pronunciation that is untypical of British speakers (i.e. they pronounce all the r’s in a word, even those that Brits usually omit, e.g. far, girl etc.).

I used to wonder about this myself. My conclusion was that it was intentional, (a) because it’s ‘cooler’, (b) for better understanding, and © for selling to an international audience.

Anyone have a more authoritative answer?

When I was young, I was taught to E-Nun-Ci-Ate my words carefully and completely when singing in the classical way. Careful attention must be paid to each syllable and sound. Clearly, I don’t speak that way, if nothing else, due to an interest in getting a sentence out quickly before my thoughts run too far ahead.

Although this was in an English tradition, I learned to drop all British accents within a couple of months in the US (English is not my native tongue to begin with). I think this is because to me, American English is much easier on the whole mouth-tongue mechanism than British English. It is more “lazy”, you don’t have to tighten the muscles and roll your words as much.

Now when pop singers sing, it seems to me that they are not very careful about enunciation at all, definitely not like the opera singers. Maybe its a counter culture thing. Most times, I can’t tell their words at all. The conjecture here is that they will sing in a more “lazy” fashion, thus sounding more American.

Singing and speech are controlled by different areas of the brain. This is why severe stutterers are often able to communicate by singing their words on a level tone. (also see Mel Tillis, country singer and stutterer).

To this let me add some speculation: we learn to speak by listening to our parents and those around us. Obviously, someone who grows up surrounded by people who speak with an English accent will speak the same way. Most people who sing may have begun by listening to a lot of music and singing along. It follows that when developing that separate chunk of grey matter that controls one’s singing voice, the ear is trained by recorded/live vocals that feature the American accent (or what we perceive as a lack of accent.) I don’t think it is something that those British singers do deliberately; it just happens.

There are, of course, people whose singing voice is accented the same way as their spoken words…I’m thinking of the singer of Modern English just as one example.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

I don’t believe rhotic singing would be a natural thing for a non-rhotic speaker.

I seem to remember this idea being presented to John Lennon, and he said “It sells better.”
Of course, giving quippy comments was a major part of John’s job description in the marketing arm of the Beatle empire. So JFY.

There’s another explanation. Most of the British rock bands of the 60’s and 70’s grew up listening to American musicians. Since they learned to sing by imitating their heroes, they sounded a lot like Brits imitating Americans.

One of the less-publicized changes caused by the advent of Punk and New Wave was that British singers began to sing with British accents. Of course, then you get American New Wave bands trying to sound British…(anyone remember Information Society?)

Yep. Pet Shop Boys (new-wave) sing with these lovely British accents and are principally responsible for my crush on all cute guys with British accents.

This gets me in trouble when I sing along. I’ve assimilated the songs so much that I sing along with a British accent and people think I’m being funny. Oh well.

We should send a band from Brooklyn over there, to sing in a Brit accent.

Can you picture it?

Hey, howya doon? We’d like ta sing dis toon for ya, and it goes like dis:

Oy’m 'Enery the eyeth, I am…


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make fun of other people.