Why Is British And American Music So Superior?

by 78 comments
Sure, there are a few German bands, Spliff, CAN etc. Dutch bands, Bloef, Doe Maar, Golden Earring etc.

But why is British and American music so overwhelmingly superior? Is it the language, the culture? Why hasn't China or India got spectacular artists such as Hendrix, Lennon, Paul Weller, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Bob Dylan, Tom Waites, Beefheart, Zappa...? I could go on all day.

What makes British and American music so great?
#off topic
  • Profile picture of the author george b
    I have always assumed its because of the language barrier. Its not easy to sing, so it must be even harder to sing in another language.

    I imagine there are many great foreign performers, who sing in there native language, but we wont hear about them because we are not interested in listening to song we dont understand.

    Personally even though I am biased, I believe the UK destroys the US in terms of credible talent in the music department.

    Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Zep, Queen, David Bowie, U2, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, The who, The clash, Deep Purple, Oasis, Stone Roses, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, The Jam.

    The list is endless. Any top ten band list would feature at least 3-4 of the above.
    • Profile picture of the author art72
      Originally Posted by george b View Post


      Personally even though I am biased, I believe the UK destroys the US in terms of credible talent in the music department.

      Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Zep, Queen, David Bowie, U2, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, The who, The clash, Deep Purple, Oasis, Stone Roses, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, The Jam.

      The list is endless. Any top ten band list would feature at least 3-4 of the above.
      Hey...You forgot OZZY!

      That's ok, we have Metallica...
  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Originally Posted by bravo75 View Post

    But why is British and American music so overwhelmingly superior?
    You must mean the American continent or else shame on you for excluding Canada.

    But "superior"? That's a subjective judgement, and purely a matter of taste. And a taste that's been formed, I would suggest, by the culture in which you've grown up.

    The artists you've listed were also influenced by others in their culture. Rock and Roll was a western phenomenon. Jazz, an American invention.

    Other cultures have always had their own music and their own superstars. You just wouldn't have heard much of them, growing up in the west.

    We're all products of our time and culture. A century or two ago, our contemporaries might have been claiming all the best music came from Europe or Russia.

    Just be thankful you're alive in this era. Music had never been as culturally important as it was in the last few decades of the 20th century.

    Nor is it ever likely to be so again.


    Frank
  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
  • Profile picture of the author bluecoyotemedia
    Originally Posted by bravo75 View Post

    Sure, there are a few German bands, Spliff, CAN etc. Dutch bands, Bloef, Doe Maar, Golden Earring etc.

    But why is British and American music so overwhelmingly superior? Is it the language, the culture? Why hasn't China or India got spectacular artists such as Hendrix, Lennon, Paul Weller, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Bob Dylan, Tom Waites, Beefheart, Zappa...? I could go on all day.

    What makes British and American music so great?
    Mate


    open your mind just for a little bit and ask yourself a few questions;

    1.) population

    2.) is because you do not speak any other language besides english

    if you spoke.. fluent spanish just for example and you lived in mexico

    you would see many stars that are huge in thier respective markets

    they just never get out of thier markets

    every once in a while the U.S. embraces a particular person and they make enough sales that they cross over

    because in the end as well all know its all about SALES!!!!!

    Selena for example

    there are tons of examples

    one recent crossover although I personally dont consider this music

    the korean ganga whatever

    but i am sure you get the point

    just asking this type of question reveals again the bubble english american/brit mentality that the world revolves around them


    it doesn't by the way


    here are some famous artists in india

    #1 CWG Theme Song - AR Rahman -
    #2 Pehla Pyar Rush - Veronica Veronica Universal Music India
    #3 Waada Hum Yaadon Ke Sang Raeth Universal Music India
    #4 Bandish Bandish Bandish Feat Pete Lockett Universal Music India
    #5 I Love You Twist & Shout Stereo Nation Universal Music Records
    #6 Tum Jaan Lo Tum Jaan Lo Surinder Kumar -
    #7 Do Ghoont Mujhe Bhi Pila De Uai aa Uai Maa Survi -
    #8 Harjai The Harjai True Emotion DJ Sheizwood Jaina Music
    #9 Hum Yaadon Ke Sang Hum Yaadon Ke Sang Raeth Universal Music India
    #10 Jan Gan Man (National Anthem) Phir Mile Sur Various Artists MTV


    here are some in brazil

    Brazil - Top Singles Chart


    here are some in china

    China Top 20 @ Top40-Charts.com - Songs & Videos from 49 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 30 Countries

    and so on and so on...
  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    Musical superiority is subjective, it's a matter taste. I'm sure many denizens of other nations would prefer their own country's musical stylings over the US or UK.

    For my taste, yeah, I'd agree with you ... but maybe I wouldn't if I were born and raised elsewhere.

    And for my taste, there's some mighty fine musicians from Australia and Canada as well.
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Look at the roots. American and British music are a European creation. European influence has dominated the world in many, many respects for, what? Nearly 2000 years.

    That's changing though. This is a pivotal time. White European culture is fading while others are becoming dominant. The change of the guard.
    • Profile picture of the author lcombs
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      Look at the roots. American and British music are a European creation. European influence has dominated the world in many, many respects for, what? Nearly 2000 years.

      That's changing though. This is a pivotal time. White European culture is fading while others are becoming dominant. The change of the guard.
      Ok....
      Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Rock-n-roll, the most influential music of the last 100 years have absolutely no influence from or connection to anything created in Europe over the last 2000 years.

      No doubt some of the best and most timeless music ever was composed during the
      renaissance. Perhaps the greatest musical geniuses ever were composing during that era.
      However, there is little connection to that and modern era music.
      I would liken Lennon and McCartney to those composers. Forward thinking. leading the way into an entire new era of musical creativity.
      But, where did their influence originate?
      Carl Perkins;
      Who was influenced by Gospel and Blues as was Jerry Lee and Elvis.
      Who in turn, influenced EVERYONE who followed in their footsteps.
    • Profile picture of the author TimPhelan
      That's just not true. It's a combination of cultures but most contemporary American music, and then British music, came from the artistic creations of African Americans.
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      American and British music are a European creation.
  • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
    strictly regional and cultural

    many great australian and new zealand bands, which like l & p are world famous in new zealand - and australia, sorry trevor

    check out crying nut from south korea sometime
  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    "I believe the blues is originally African not American or British - The blues led to to the delta "American" blues. Mixed with Jazz to become Rhythm and Blues. All these groups like the Rolling Stones etc copied people like Robert Johnson.

    Wiki.

    "The origin of the term of was most likely derived from mysticism involving blue indigo, which was used by many West African cultures in death and mourning ceremonies where all the mourner's garments would have been dyed blue to indicate suffering. This mystical association towards the indigo plant, grown in many southern US slave plantations, combined with the West African slaves who sang of their suffering as they worked on the cotton that the indigo dyed eventually resulted in these expressed songs being known as "the Blues."
    • Profile picture of the author Kurt
      Originally Posted by madison_avenue View Post

      "I believe the blues is originally African not American or British - The blues led to to the delta "American" blues. Mixed with Jazz to become Rhythm and Blues. All these groups like the Rolling Stones etc copied people like Robert Johnson.

      Wiki.

      "The origin of the term of was most likely derived from mysticism involving blue indigo, which was used by many West African cultures in death and mourning ceremonies where all the mourner's garments would have been dyed blue to indicate suffering. This mystical association towards the indigo plant, grown in many southern US slave plantations, combined with the West African slaves who sang of their suffering as they worked on the cotton that the indigo dyed eventually resulted in these expressed songs being known as "the Blues."
      I disgree. Blues legend Buddy Guy took a tour of Africa looking for the origin of the blues. He didn't find anything he'd call the blues and was dissapointed that blues wasn't African.

      The blues was influenced in the 1800's by Irish spirituals such as Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Amazing Grace. These songs evolved into a "call and shout" style with a distinct rythm.

      Black slaves used these cadences and rythms while working in the fields so they would all work at the same pace, helping prevent some from getting beaten for working "too slow".

      As slavery ended, many blues songs weren't about sorrow but rather to cure the blues by dancing and just having fun. They would "rock" and they would "roll" to the beat, both blues terms, and just have a good time at the local juke joint, escaping their "blues" for a time.

      Later, Americans invented and made popular electric guitars, arguably the most expressive and versatile of all the instraments.

      Add the sound of the electric guitar to the beat and rythyms of the blues meant to get your body moving and you have fun music that was created just for having fun and for the first time in history there was music perfect for stomping your feet and dancing without any formal training.

      American racism played a big part in the popularity of the "invasion" UK bands. Many American kids weren't allowed to listen to music played by blacks, but it was OK to hear white kids from the UK play Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry songs.

      IMO, it was the invention of fun music and electric guitar, plus the UK kids willingness to play songs by American black artists and put their own twist on the music is why the USA and UK have the most popular artists. Ever tried to do the Twist to Indian sitar music?

      IOW, American rock and roll is physical music.
  • Profile picture of the author KimW
    Canada:
    ( I could add a lot more bands)

    Australia? Yeah they represent too
  • Profile picture of the author Sumit Menon
    Originally Posted by bravo75 View Post

    Sure, there are a few German bands, Spliff, CAN etc. Dutch bands, Bloef, Doe Maar, Golden Earring etc.

    But why is British and American music so overwhelmingly superior? Is it the language, the culture? Why hasn't China or India got spectacular artists such as <snip>
    We got great artists too... You've never heard of them because you don't understand the language. Here are some -

    A. R. Rahman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Lata Mangeshkar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Kishore Kumar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And they compose/sing in Hindi. There are many big artists from other regional languages.

    Our musicians don't do concerts, only recordings (and 99% of them for movies). They practice all day. So, although the lyrics may not be that good, your artists stand no chance against ours when it comes to vocals!
  • Profile picture of the author LarryC
    Most likely people from the US and UK (and English speaking countries in general) are more familiar with English and American artists. The marketplace is also dominated by English speaking companies.

    That's like asking, "Why do Americans make the best movies?" That perception exists because Hollywood is the center of the global film industry, so movies made elsewhere get less attention.
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    The only unbiased way to judge music is from nature.

    The closer music is to the songs of the birds then the
    purer the music.

    Who taught the birds to sing?

    Everything else is subjective.

    -Ray Edwards
    • Profile picture of the author Kurt
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      The only unbiased way to judge music is from nature.

      The closer music is to the songs of the birds then the
      purer the music.

      Who taught the birds to sing?

      Everything else is subjective.

      -Ray Edwards
      I disagree. But for the sake of conversation...

  • Profile picture of the author johnben1444
    U.S and Europe got to dominate for these simple fact that are still very much in existence:

    1. Culture
    2. Language/accent
    3. Professionalism

    Anyway, PSY did great from Korea and JeeYo (ME) coming out real soon from Naija..
  • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
    so the million dollar remains

    which is the greatest, american or british?

    i vote for the poms
    • Profile picture of the author bravo75
      Originally Posted by hardraysnight View Post

      so the million dollar remains

      which is the greatest, american or british?

      i vote for the poms
      I would have to say, I love both equally.
      Couldn't imagine never listening to Jimi, Stevie Ray, Zappa, Beefheart, Waites again.

      Never listening to the Clash, The Beatles, Led Zep, The Specials, The Smiths, Floyd, Jeff Beck would be equally tough.

      That's like asking: Would you rather loose your eyes or your ears?
  • Profile picture of the author lcombs
    When Paul Simon came back from Africa and recorded Graceland, many well know black musicians, (mostly rappers. Which really doesn't qualify as music), were pissed because he 'stole' their music.

  • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
    easy for me, miss flamin' groovies, ramones, harry chapin, turtles, sure, but could not imagine a life without oasis, here they come again

    even The Beatles, although i am told i think they suck as well, or, at least, are old and out-dated and "that European guy that died of a drug overdose", although i tend to listen to george more
  • Profile picture of the author barefut
    The UK and USA have a lot more drive to promote their music it seems, and they are similar enough to one another to in language to have cross over support with one another. I'd say Canada could go in the lot as well.
  • Profile picture of the author lcombs
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    It isn't superior. It's just promoted better.
    Promotion is a great leverage, however, no matter how hard it's promoted, if people don't like it, they won't listen to it.

    Hank jr. is the perfect example.
    His mother insisted on making do Hank Sr. tunes and/or that style.
    The first time I saw him he had short hair and was wearing a suit and tie.
    He was horrible.
    As he got older he told everybody to f* off and started doing his own stuff.
    He is a star in his own right.
    • Profile picture of the author ThomM
      Originally Posted by lcombs View Post

      Promotion is a great leverage, however, no matter how hard it's promoted, if people don't like it, they won't listen to it.

      Hank jr. is the perfect example.
      His mother insisted on making do Hank Sr. tunes and/or that style.
      The first time I saw him he had short hair and was wearing a suit and tie.
      He was horrible.
      As he got older he told everybody to f* off and started doing his own stuff.
      He is a star in his own right.
      First time I saw Hank Jr. was on his "If you don't like my daddy, you can kiss my ass." tour.
      It was one of, if not the loudest concert I've ever been to.
      One of the best also.
  • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
    Well, if you insist on using popularity as the measuring stick of excellence or "superiority"...

    (Some of the big 'uns weren't and aren't quite as popular abroad as what you might think anyway, and certainly don't enjoy the same revered status as back home.)

    If there is one, the simple answer is probably that western music, by design - like so many other things here - appeals, however unflatteringly, to the lowest common denominator.

    It has nailed the art and science of exploiting that weakness we have for trancelike monotonous beats and catchy melodies in a way that music from elsewhere hasn't and doesn't attempt to.

    No great mystery, I think.
    • Profile picture of the author John Durham
      Originally Posted by DireStraits View Post


      If there is one, the simple answer is probably that western music, by design - like so many other things here - appeals, however unflatteringly, to the lowest common denominator.

      It has nailed the art and science of exploiting that weakness we have for trancelike monotonous beats and catchy melodies in a way that music from elsewhere hasn't and doesn't attempt to.

      No great mystery, I think.
      As much as it hurts,

      I think Dire Straits nailed the answer to this thread best.

      We are the three chord wonders of the world. There is a hypnotic power in the monotony, much like the Cat In The Hat is memorable for children, and the "ABC Song", we learn as children which has a monotonous, easily memorable rhythm and rhyme...

      -John

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