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  1. #1
    Friendy Guest

    Default British and American accents in music

    I wonder why a lot of British singers use American accent in their songs.
    Is that in order to be more popular in the USA and all over the world
    because the American accent seems to be more usual for the pop-music?

    Also I have the following questions for the Americans:
    When you hear British singers sing with an American accent
    how often do you know for sure that they are not American but British?
    (Of course I assume you didn't know they are British from other sources before you heard them)
    And since you know they are not American, do you always guess
    that they are British (and not Dutch or Swedish or whatever)?
    That's really very interesting.:)
    Thanks in advance for your answers.

    BTW, I like both accents, each of them has its own charm :)

    Friendy

  2. #2
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    Dear Friendly,

    You indeed have raised a very interesting question I always have wanted to ask myself. I once asked several young people from the US and the UK whether or not they can distinguish the accent a pop singer has and the answers were very diverse. It turned out that it is not always possible to determine the accent of a singer because articulation is different when a person speaks and when he sings. When you listen to Bono of U2 singing you can not always make out his Irish accent whereas when he speaks you cleary can especially because of the distinctive Irish intonation. When you hear Jon Bon Jovi sing you can clearly hear that he is American whereas when you listen to Madonna it is is not that obvious. What do you think?

  3. #3
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    I discussed this question with a Englishman a few years ago. He didn't believe that British singers did this, although it seemed obvious to me.

    I think there are several possible reasons for articulating with an American accent when singing; the most obvious reason being the traditional influence that American singers have had on British music culture. Each generation is influenced by the previous, so we Brits are influenced by the Yanks. Another possible reason could be marketing. Historically, the US market has been a gold mine for British artists - the potential income from the US was far greater than what could be achieved from the domestic UK market.

    Iain

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Many singers say that they just seem to lose their regional\national accent when they sing.

  5. #5
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Accents in music

    For an interesting of the subject, go here:
    http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/mb/...msg=14979.1#a1

    :)

  6. #6
    Friendy Guest

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    Thanks a lot all of you for your answers, they are all very reasonable, and sorry for not answering for a long time.
    Now I'd like to share some of my thoughts on this topic.
    I distinguish two aspects here.
    There are small differences in pronunciation of certain individual sounds in different accents that are not easy to describe (especially by non-professionals) and are not very noticeable when these sounds are pronounced individually but the combination of these small differences in a person's connected speech forms a certain noticeable accent.
    When the person is singing these differences tend to disappear without singer's consciousness of that and so does the accent.

    But there's also another aspect. There are certain sounds that are pronounced quite differently
    in BE and AE. Such as sound of 'a' in can't, last, and sound of 'o' in got, body. And these differences can't disappear unless you want them to. For example if you are British and pronounce 'last' in a British way in your usual life and if you pronounce this word in an American way when singing that means you do it on purpose, not unconsciously as in the first case. When singers do so, I think that I can't guess that they are British and that's why I wondered if Americans can. :) I also asked myself another question: if I heard someone pronouncing these words in a British way, could I then be sure that they are British. I think I also can't be sure.

    I also guess there is no strict border between the two aspects.

  7. #7
    Friendy Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by english-test.net
    ...When you hear Jon Bon Jovi sing you can clearly hear that he is American whereas when you listen to Madonna it is is not that obvious. What do you think?
    That's very interesting, I've listened to Bon Jovi and Madonna and some other singers trying to make some observations. Bon Jovi really seemed typically American to me, so does Mariah Carey, but still I'm not sure that if I heard them without knowing who they are I would be sure that they are American. Madonna is not so typical, neither is Barbra Streisand. I think it also depends on the certain song and the style. For example Whitney Houston didn't seem typically American in the song 'Love will save the day', but seems typically American in some other songs. It's interesting that when I heard Celine Dion for the first time (the song 'Think twice') I thought she was American and I was very surprised when I heard that she was French-Canadian and learned English only when she was an adult. I also couldn't guess that my favorite group The Carpenters was American and didn't know it until someone told me. Well, maybe that's only my lack of experience.

  8. #8
    Friendy Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by dduck
    I discussed this question with a Englishman a few years ago. He didn't believe that British singers did this, although it seemed obvious to me.
    :o That's surprising. Maybe he was just not very observant or didn't think much on this topic.

  9. #9
    Friendy Guest

    Default Re: Accents in music

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    For an interesting of the subject, go here:
    http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/mb/...msg=14979.1#a1

    :)
    Thank you so much, RonBee!!! That was such a pleasant surprise!!! :D

  10. #10
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    You are quite welcome.

    :D

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