What style of music is this song in?

Here is a song that I drove myself crazy trying to find over the past few weeks until finally Keepants Erasumus came to my rescue and figured out what it was from a post about it here. The song is called Nello by Roger Salloom (never heard of him before hearing this song on the radio.) There is an accordion which provides the most prominent rhythmic accompaniment. It sounds vaguely ethnic because of this accordion; what do you call this kind of song, with this kind of beat? The English Beat used to play a lot of songs with the same basic rhythm as this one, and the accordion and saxophone.

Is this a French style of music originally? Or is it from the Caribbean, with French influences? It also sounds kind of German or Polish. What do you think?

It sounds like a ska song to me. The original ska style originated in Jamaica, a mix of indigenous Mento and American R & B. Accordion didn’t feature too prominently in early ska but brass certainly did.

Yes, definitely ska with an unusual instrumentation. Here’s the real deal.

Or this (first wave) or this (third wave)

I wouldn’t call it ska overall necessarily. It’s a blend of various genres, with ska being most evident in the chorus. The verses lose their ska-ness, and I’m not sure what specific style I’d peg it as. The bridge-to-guitar solo part has a 70s blues-ballad feel. There’s also a zydeco twinge with the accordian parts (although the rhythms and licks aren’t really zydeco) as well as some R&B going on there.

The opening of the song is very similar to the middle break of “Gumboots” from Paul Simon’s Graceland.

Here’s a little info on “Gumboots”:
Simon was commuting to his rural house week after week and listening to an unlabeled cassette. Eventually he does some research, and…

The tape was a mbaqanga compilation called Gumboots: Accordion Jive Hits, Volume II. Gumboots, Simon says in his liner notes, “is the term used to describe the type of music favored by miners and railroad workers in South Africa.” It’s a style that originated in the 19th century when mine workers were kept underground for three months, chained to their stations, beaten when they talked. The boots - Wellingtons that mine bosses had bought for workers because standing knee-deep in infected water introduced diseases that lowered productivity - were used to tap out code in the dark. Anyway! A year after hearing it, Simon was in South Africa re-recording the title track from that comp with its original musicians, Boyoyo Boys; later, he would write and sing his own lyrics over it. “You don’t feel you could love me,” he sang, “but I feel you could.”

The Specials are 2-tone not first wave. For first wave I would suggest The Skatalites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bczs6vS5nNM&feature=fvw

You’re right. The melody of “Nello” is very similar to the sax melody there on Gumboots at 1:20. The beats are a little different and the chorus of “Nello” sound more Carribean than African to me, although there is a bit of overlap between the two musical cultures.

But it’s kind of French-sounding, too, with the accordion, right? Or is this just a misconception I have from pop culture that accordions are French (or German)?

Sure – I mentioned zydeco (which is a Creole form in Louisiana that definitely has French influence in it). The chorus beat isn’t zydeco, though. I’d identify it, as others have, as ska (or possibly some African form I’m not familiar with, but the drumming sounds very ska to me.)