In a very special one-sided Spin It, Brian tackles a hard-hitting topic that has been hitting him hard over the past week. Don’t worry, this isn’t like on television where a character is missing and another character creepily turns to the camera to say, “Miranda’s not here … She’s at her Grandmother’s house this weekend!” (That episode of Lizzie McGuire was horribly frightening.) Enjoy your break from Carlye’s ranting and prepare to snuggle up and get cozy with Brian…
Across The Pond Appeal: Lily Allen, Lady Sov and Love Actually
They gave us The Beatles, Harry Potter and our independence. Yes, the British have always seemed to dish out what we need, though not always willingly. Regardless, the little island of bad teeth and excellent television has had a disproportional influence on American culture, despite getting their lobster tails handed to them a couple of times. We are naturally drawn to the culture across the pond like a baby to its mother’s face. But not only is the appeal within us, it’s fostered by our own media giants.
Conspiracy!? The end of orthodontics!? Maybe, but I think if we look closely enough … love, actually, is all around.
For the sake of convenience, we can trace the phenomenon back to the early ’60s. Beatlemania etc. gave us a taste of what we were missing, and since then, our nation has been a very subtle but desperate junkie.
Also for the sake of convenience, let’s disregard everything from then until the time of Oasis (which, if you look at “Best U.K. Albums Ever” lists, is exactly what the British do). Since the ’90s, there have been a handful of musical artists who arrive each year to the States with a furious media blitz. Like flashy dealers, MTV, Rolling Stone and most recently the blogosphere try to get us to buy their own brand of sweet smack.
From Cleopatra and the Spice Girls to Bloc Party and the Arctic Monkeys, the past decade has offered a constant flow of British artists for us to either love or reject. It’s not that interesting that they are marketed to American consumers; a successful and popular artist should no doubt be accepted into another culture. What’s interesting is that they are exclusively marketed as “English Bands,” complete with spinning neon Union Jacks.
With the exception of Radiohead and some others, it seems that U.K. bands’ only commercial quality is being from the U.K. Also, most people couldn’t tell you where The Killers or The White Stripes are from, but everyone knows when a band is from across the pond. It’s a specific and almost necessary part of the band’s identity, arguably more important than the quality of their work. For example … The Streets.
Mike Skinner’s highly regarded rap/spoken word project, The Streets, gave him celebrity status in England. Though not as well-known in the States, his work has a cult-like following. I crazy love The Streets, but if Skinner’s flow wasn’t characterized by his thick accent, there wouldn’t be as much appeal. If Skinner was a nasal Brooklynite, no one would want to listen to that skinny white man rap at all. I want guys to be referred to as “blokes,” and I want to hear about losing a “thousand quid,” not dollars, and I want lots of “lifts” and “torches” and “tellys” too.
Most recently, the UK has brought us Lily Allen and Lady Sovereign. Both are young, ugly-yet-attractive female artists and both have been successful here. Lady Sov was bafflingly number one on TRL and Lily Allen has appeared in the Billboard Top 20. Allen has said she’s not that bent on breaking through to the States, though. She knows she’s just the next wave of the weakening British invasion.
One day they may recapture our hearts and wallets, and if Dave Becks makes a musical debut (fingers crossed) they might just do it. But if those queen-kissing snobs think they can pass outlandish tariffs without representation, all the hot soccer players in the world couldn’t stop the uprising. These colors don’t run. Cheers.