The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppein, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Sex-Pistols, The Spice Girls, James Blunt and the like are believed to be some of the most successful musical acts of all times. Three decades ago, record payers and gramophones belted out the dulcet tones of John Lennon and Freddie Mercury. Today, I-pod speakerphones and CD players blast the musical works of Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys. Dig a little deeper and you will be astonished by the fact that most of the cult bands of our times have one thing in common, they are all British!!
Gone are the days when the whole world looked to America for quality music (which is not to say that American music isn’t of great value). Today, some of the best music in the genre of Rock, Pop and Metal are recorded in London, which is speedily becoming the new “musical capital” of the world. In the 1960s, whilst the rest of the world swayed to the tunes of the quintessentially American Elvis Presley and Doris Day, England was busy developing its own distinctive genre of foot-tapping music. It was only a matter of time before the world was to witness the “British Invasion” – a term used by the media to denote the influx of British rock and roll, pop and beat musicians into the global music scene).
February 1964 saw the beginning of the British Invasion era with growing popularity of The Beatles in USA. John, Paul, Ringo and George replaced Elvis and jointly became the fantasy of all girls, of all nationalities, worldwide. It was at this time that the clipped British accent was declared sexy. The Beatles were soon followed by bands such as The Who and The Rolling Stones. The music of the aforementioned bands broke all barriers of nation, class and age. Today, they are appreciated by both, the Flower Power generation of yesterday as well as the Gizmo Geeks of present times.
The United Kingdom was also the birthplace of genres such as Progressive Rock and Punk Rock. The former is associated with classical tinged music and obtuse lyrics. Band’s such as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Queen all bore the stamp of progressive rock. Punk rock bands are remembered for their anarchistic lyrics which attacked the British government and society. Modern American punk rock bands such as GreenDay seem to have been inspired by their British predecessors, The Sex Pistols. Punk rock and progressive-rock are staples of the eyeliner-wearing “goth scene” of today.
Today’s Britain comprises of a healthy mix of people of different races and nationalities. Different cultures inhabit the streets of London, intermingling of different communities has led to the amalgamation of various regional musical elements, giving rise to the emergence of ‘fusion artists’. The predominantly Indian population of South Hall is famous for its experimental intermingling of British ‘house music’ with the upbeat Indian ‘bhangra.’ Similarly, the amalgamation of the Jamaican ‘benna’ and modern English rap has led to interesting results.
Britain is also the hub of live performances and concerts. A number of historic music festivals have been held on British soil. The Glastonbury festival is the prime music and performing arts festival on earth.
A century ago, Britain was known for the hegemony it had over the global economic scenario (as it had the maximum number of colonies). Today, Britain enjoys a monopoly over the global music scenario; it is evident that for the British, old habits die hard! Yesterday, they were the economic superpower, today, they are the musical superpower.
And as Queen so eloquently put it:
“No time for losers
cause we are the champions – of the world”