Heritage In Song: Seven Singers Who Cannot Hide Their Accents When Singing


Growing up, I used to wonder why the guys from Oasis sounded American when they sang, even though they’re British (they actually don’t but that’s beside the point). The truth is, people who speak with accents often sing without them. Brian Johnson of AC/DC doesn’t sound English (though Bon Scott certainly sounded Australian), Thomas Mars of Phoenix doesn’t sound French, etc. But some singers just can’t shake the accent. I have compiled seven of them below, rating their accent strength on a scale of 1-4 Björk heads.

Fionn Regan
Country of Origin: Ireland

Fionn Regan, a folk singer from Ireland, is one of the world’s best songwriters, and no one really knows him. His most recent record, The Shadow of An Empire, hasn’t been released in America, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t excellent. His accent only comes through here and there, but I just wanted you guys to know who he was, so watch the damn video.

Kele Okereke (Bloc Party)
Country of Origin: England

Once told by an interviewer that he sounds English when he sings, Kele responded “I sound English when I speak too.” Okereke sometimes does more shout-singing than singing, so that’s probably where his accent comes through.

Billy Bragg
Country of Origin: England

Bragg is more of a pop-poet than a singer, which is why he almost speak-sings, and when he does, he sounds like any hoodlum from a Guy Ritchie film. The cockney phrasing and strong accent is part of what gives Bragg his everyman-poet image.

Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)
Country of Origin: England

Turner is another who sings as he speaks. Often aping Morrissey (to his own credit he does it well), he has become the face (and voice) of British Indie-rock today.

Anthony Gonzalez (M83)
Country of Origin: France

Gonzalez doesn’t sing on every M83 song, but when he does, the broken phrasing and missing syllables come through.

Jónsi Birgisson (Sigur Rós)
Country of Origin: Iceland

This isn’t really fair. Since Jónsi sings in a made up language (Hopelandic for you newbies out there) he often sounds more alien than Icelandic. But to be fair, there’s no way he sounds American, and that’s what this list is all about.

Euguene Hütz (Gogol Bordello)
Country of Origin: Soviet Union/Ukraine

Hütz is not only the most-accented man in popular music, but he also sports the best moustache. Leader of gypsy-punks Gogol Bordello, Hütz makes it nearly impossible to sing along without imitating his accent, and that’s what this is all about. Congrats Eugene, you win four Björks.

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One Comment on “Heritage In Song: Seven Singers Who Cannot Hide Their Accents When Singing”

  1. 07.15.11 at 3:04 AM #

    Sigur rose is truly awesome. I am going to listen the entire album. Thanks for sharing such cool tracks with us.

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