Why is it that when I know a rock band is British, I know it because I’ve been told. Why can’t I tell a song is British by the accent?
In almost every single rock act there is no discernible British accent. Maybe this was imperative during the first wave of British acts to make it big over here in North America. So fine, maybe the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the Who had to start by hiding their Britishness. But why not, when established, revert to their British roots?
And there were successive waves of other rockers that may have wanted to display their Britishness proudly. How about Prog Rock (Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd etc.) Glam Rock (David Bowie, Sweet), Art Rock (Queen, ELO) or the many acts of New Wave which seemed to go right till the end of the eighties. These acts were ESTABLISHED. Why couldn’t just one of them sing with a British accent.
Now, I’ve left out one wave of British music that I can discern a British accent on. The musically literate of you probably already know that some punk rock music kept the accent and even seemed to revel in their accents.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the simplicity of punk. Maybe keeping the accent makes the music sound just a little more guttural and that helped the music. Maybe having an accent kept punk apart from other category forms.
But wait you say, punk is kind of popular again with the pop/punk acts. That’s exactly what brings this to mind to me. Green Day is the biggest of these newer acts. And despite hailing from the United States, they seem to sing with a forceful British twang. Maybe not quite a British accent but with the US knowing that it is the center of the English speaking world, that’s as close as we’re going to get.
Why punk rock? I’m really not quite sure.