The New British Invasion: I guess it’s appropriate that US radio stations are fairly consistently behind the curve when it comes to music that’s otherwise known around the world. After all, our country lags behind other nations with regularity these days, whether we’re talking social policy, car manufacturing, technology innovation — the list goes on. But this post is not a critique of US radio (which likely will disappoint some of you). It’s all about the new “British invasion” resurgence that has occurred over the past eighteen months or so on mainstream Top 40 radio outlets.
The History: Of course, our country’s affinity for devouring music from Her Majesty’s collection of islands is nothing new. Our love affair dates back to the days of The British Invasion, where The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Zombies (the list goes on) informally ushered in a new sound to American audiences. Since then, there have been a steady stream of pop artists that have found mainstream success in the US (e.g. Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Oasis) fitting seamlessly into, or, in some cases, dictating the shift in sound, as the decade trends rolled along.
The New Millenium: So here we are in 2011, and Brit-born artists continue to have a strong influence in today’s mainstream radio playlist. As the new millenium arrived, we saw the arrival of singer-songwriter throwback souls – KT Tunstall, James Blunt, Joss Stone, and the late, great Amy Winehouse – who provided us chart-topping hits and a comforting respite that bucked the trends of modern-day music’s aggressive, urban sound. While some of these promising artists have diminished a bit as far as chart prominence, we continue to have Brits invading the charts with catchy, melodic music.
The Current Talent: The leader of the pack as of this writing, in Fall 2011, is the immanently talented Adele, who’s current single “Someone Like You” (a follow-up to her gargantuan “Rolling in the Deep” single) has already topped the Billboard Hot 100. Other UK talent that has experienced major pop crossover success over the past few years – Leona Lewis, Taio Cruz, Jay Sean – are all recording new records that I expect should fare fairly well (with the possible exception of Jay Sean, who’s “Down” single may as well have described his future chart trajectory) in today’s electro-pop crazed sonic landscape.
Who To Look Out For: If you haven’t been living under a rock this past year, you’ll have noticed that current pop music – for the most part (see Adele exception above) – is dominated by house synths and electro-pop rhythms. While this dismay some, it bodes well for Britain’s current pop talents that are looking to solidify their star status with American audiences. Here are the acts I suggest you watch out for over the next couple of months:
- Jessie J – While her underrated debut single to US audiences “Price Tag” performed only moderately on mainstream radio – and follow-up equally catchy follow-up single “Domino” destined to experience the same fate – keep an eye on this artist. She possesses a great pair of soulful and versatile pipes and deserves attention. Listen to “Who You Are” and “Do It Like A Dude” (a UK Top 5 hit) to see both qualities on display. Listen: Who You Are by Jessie J
- Cher Lloyd – Winner of the latest version of UK X Factor, her first single “Swagger Jagger” is a defiant, zooming piece of urban rap with a hilariously effective hook featuring our childhood favorite ditty “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” It rocketed to #1 on the UK charts and should fair well here in the US. If not, follow-up radio-ready single “With Ur Love” featuring Mike Posner (or “Cooler than Me” fame) will fit well in the current musical landscape. Listen: Swagger Jagger by Cher Lloyd
- Tinie Tempah – With “Written in the Stars” already a hit and follow-up single “Til I’m Gone” featuring Wiz Khalifa a solid bet to replicate the success, Tinie’s debut disc (not so cleverly called “Disc-Overy”) deserves a listen. Check out his duet with fellow Brit singer Ellie Goulding “Wonderman” Listen: Wonderman by Tinie Tempah
- The Wanted – British boy bands are typically not acts that I would endorse (although boy “band” JLS may eventually grow on me) but their debut single radio to impact Top 40 and Rhythmic outlets “Glad You Came” is a perfect radio-ready single: a sticky synth line that is club ready and catchy. Listen: Glad You Came by The Wanted
- Collide by Leona Lewis
- Hangover by Taio Cruz featuring Flo Rida
- Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
- She Makes Me Wanna by JLS featuring Dev
- Feel So Close by Calvin Harris
- All Fired Up by The Saturdays
- Jealousy (Moto Blanco Radio Edit) by Will Young
- Tinie Tempah Leads British Invasion at Lollapalooza (spinner.com)
- Music Review: The Searchers – The Very Best Of The Searchers (blogcritics.org)
- I Know You Think Too Much To Lose (inallcaps.com)