Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Singing With Accents

In the fairly recent past, I've wondered why many Australians and British folks sing with American accents.

Was it a symptom of successful American imperialism?  


Recently, though, I read this article which says a guy named Andy Gibson did a study, and he thinks it's natural.  Well, it's not natural, but it happens automatically.   Sometimes.

It has to do with the style of music.  People tend to go to an American accent when singing pop music.  When they sing a Reggae song, they tend to do a Jamaican accent  When they do country, a southern accent comes out.  

So we sing a song in the accent in which we've heard it.

Although that wouldn't explain Australians singing with an American accent when singing a song they've written themselves.  

Or maybe it's the style itself that brings about the accent.

Lately, our guilty pleasure is watching The Voice.  What's interesting to me is that the American contestants are singing with non-American accents. A few of the women sound almost Australian to me.  It's like they're faking an Aussie accent.

Then there's Adam Levine, one of the judges.  I became familiar with him as a judge before hearing him as a singer.  I was later surprised to hear his singing. His singing accent doesn't match his speaking accent.

I asked Jack the other day, Why are so many of them singing with fake accents? 

Jack replied by saying something like, YOU sing with a different accent. And that's fine. But if you're complaining about it, you're being hypocritical. 


I do usually sing with an American accent. 

And although the Australian accent jumps out of my mouth automatically and accidentally when speaking.  I think with singing I have to force the fake accent.


Here are two contestants singing with interesting accents.   Maybe sort of Australian?

In the following video you can hear Erin Martin's speaking voice.   I don't think it matches her singing voice.


Andrew said...

I see what you mean. I would describe them as odd accents. Trying to work out accents in songs is difficult. Someone with a heavy speaking accent can mimic a song and it can sound perfect. As you can guess, I really dislike Australian country music (I could just stop there) sung in an American accent. I guess if they dream of making it to Nashville, then that is what they have to do.

FruitCake said...

Well, I googled Mathai to see if there is some explanation for her accent, and thought the only possibility is she has been influenced by Amy Winehouse, so then I listened to some Amy and she seemed to have a bit of an American twang happening. Oy!
Although Andrew is much, much younger than I am... it's possible that, like me, he grew up listening to British singers before American sounds became a dominant influence here.

For myself, I found it grating at first when Australian singers started to Americanise their singing. Perhaps it reeked too much of a cultural cringe. Now, of course, I cringe a little when I hear some [though not all] Australian accents in songs.

Perhaps it's only a matter of time before people all over the world speak and sing in some bland, homogenised accent. Yech.

Dina said...

Andrew: I wonder if any Australian country singers in Nashville stick with their Australian accent.

Probably not.

I'm guessing that if they wanted to stay with an Australian accent, they'd stick to Tamworth instead of doing the Nashville thing. '

There's probably some career pressure to change the accent; but I'm guessing sometimes people WANT to change their accent.

Fruitcake: I had no idea Amy Winehouse was British.

This website ( says she's doing an Alabama accent.

So maybe it's some sort of Southern accent that's become popular. It kind of sounds Australian to me. Maybe it's like a cross between Australian-British-Southern American.

I can imagine the bland homogenised accent happening.