Singing in a North American accent

Marie   Friday, August 13, 2004, 07:19 GMT
I like British singers singing with their natural pronounciations of words. The Bee Gees always seemed to have sung with their British accents more often than not, but the Stones didn't seem to as often. Britsh singer, Olivia Newton-John always seemed to sing in an Americanized way ever since she started recording songs, except when she did recordings with Cliff Richard-- probably because he wanted her to sing as close to her natural way of speaking as possible. When Olivia was asked why at the time, she said she didn't purposely sing without her accent --she had a heavier British accent at the time since she was born in Britain and spent most her life living in Britain at that point. She said she heard alot of American songs on the radio growing up and sang along, so when she starting her singing career she basically sang that way without actually trying to. So I think some non-North American singers who sang along with, practiced or did talent contests by using popular American songs probably don't try singing with North American accents on purpose. Singing that way becomes a habit possibly.
Damian   Friday, August 13, 2004, 07:47 GMT
It's quite usual for the speaking and singing accents to be worlds apart. An example was shown on GMTV not so long ago when this guy spoke Brummy but sang Californian. No way would it be a commercial success anywhere if he sang in his regional accent. I'm not so sure if he had merely modified to a more standard British accent but even so it is usual to Americanise it because that has more international appeal.
mjd   Friday, August 13, 2004, 08:28 GMT
I'm sure it does sometimes have to do with commercial appeal, but I also think accents are somewhat blurred when people sing.

You also have to take the type of music into account. The Rolling Stones sing in an R&B-influenced type of rock. This type of music originated in the United States, so it's sung in a certain style.

I don't think an American accent is necessary for commercial appeal in the U.S. The Beatles sang with British accents. If we take a little trip down 90s pop memory lane, the Spice Girls (remember them) definitely sounded British and they were all the rage in their time. There are countless other examples.

While I don't hear a Scottish accent on them when they sing, Franz Ferdinand are definitely on top of the U.S. pop charts right now...that song of theirs is on the radio everytime I get in the car.
Guilhem   Friday, August 13, 2004, 08:40 GMT
Do the Bee Gees and Olivia Newton-John identify themselves as British or Australian? Sorry, I know this is off the topic but I'm curious to know if we can call them British (as Marie has done).
Ed   Friday, August 13, 2004, 15:27 GMT
mjd, who's Franz Ferdinand?
mjd   Friday, August 13, 2004, 18:44 GMT
They're a band from Scotland.

Of course the original Franz Ferdinand was the Austro-Hungarian archduke whose assassination sparked WWI....but I was talking about the band.
Ovaltiney   Friday, August 13, 2004, 19:13 GMT
Listen to the popular 1930s children's song/jingle "We Are the Ovaltineys" at (Real Player required). Can you tell the accent of the singers?
Ovaltiney   Friday, August 13, 2004, 19:21 GMT
Another recording from the same website- . This one has the singer talking and singing.
Marie   Friday, August 13, 2004, 21:02 GMT
I agree Damian, some singers Americanise their songs because of the greater international appeal they can establish and some words do sound different when sung.
I've never heard of Franz Ferdinand, Mjd. What is the name of the song that they've got on the chart right now? There's a British girl singer, or maybe she's part of a group, that has a popular song out right now that's done in hip hop style, I'd never have known her nationality if I wasn't told, I thought she was American. People like the beatles and spice girls were huge in North America, and yes, their accents didn't matter at all.
To answer your question Guihem, that's the truth of their nationalities, so we can't deny it. I've known the Bee Gees to be British because thats all I've heard them say. There's footage or interviews somewhere in which Newton-John has said she identfies with being British and she's commented some odd years back that she felt more "English", but she's also said she identifies with Australia because she spent part of her childhood living there and that it's a beautiful country.
Australians usually claim famous people as Aussies if they've lived in their country for at least a part of their childhood, so naturally the recipients of their devotion feel cherished; people like Russell Crowe, I know he's from NZ because he's said so, many times; Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman(both American) but Nicole spent most of her life in Australia, since the age of 4 and her parents are also Australian so she most likely feels wholly Australian which I agree with.
Ovaltiney, I just listened, are they British? They sound like it to me, the very upper class type of speaking. I'm sorry, I'm not sure how to phrase it without describing it that way.
Janice - Hatfield, Hertfordshire   Friday, August 13, 2004, 22:27 GMT
Thanks, Ovaltiney, for those links. I love Ovaltine but haven't had it for some time -maybe tonight. Yes, Marie, the singers were British children and the recording was made in January 1937. The song was a commercial jingle from the era and the Ovaltineys broadcast in their own programme on the radio every Sunday evening in the 1930s. To be an Ovaltiney you had to promise "to do the things that your parents told you to do". Most importantly though to "drink delicious Ovaltine every day to make you fit and happy, with a mind that's bright and keen". The accent you commented upon was very much of the time, not necessarily upper class.

The jingle ---

"We are the Ovaltineys
Little girls and boys.
Make your requests,
We'll not refuse you,
We are here just to amuse you.
Would you like a song or story,
Will you share our joys?
At games and sports we're more than keen,
No merrier children could be seen,
Because we all drink Ovaltine,
We're happy girls and boys!"
Random Chappie   Friday, August 13, 2004, 23:12 GMT
Oh, good god, not Ovaltine!

I left my first infant school after a row between my mum and the headmistress over my refusal to drink Ovaltine. Yes, I hated (and still dislike) Ovaltine; so did my mum.

Headmistress: "Mrs [], your son won't drink Ovaltine!"
Mum: "Why should he? We don't drink anything but tea, milk, and water at home."
Headmistress: "Ovaltine is healthy and makes children nice and strong. Plus, your son must learn to go along with his peers."
Mum: "Stuff and nonsense."

My second infant school was a pleasant, new independent school where the teachers didn't force their pupils to drink anything except water.
Marie   Friday, August 13, 2004, 23:57 GMT
Thanks for all the information about the Ovaltineys and their accent, Janice. At first I thought, 'does it have to do with Ovaltine? I love Ovaltine' then I thought, 'maybe not', until you cleared it up. It's a cute little jingle, I bet some of kids did behave themselves even more because of the Ovaltineys. It's interesting how accents change a bit over time. In very old American movies, I noticed that alot of the actors had a strong enough hint of European english accents.

Ahhhh Chappie, your teacher swore by the Ovaltines slogan of " make you fit and happy, with a mind that's bright and keen", not such a cheerful memory for you, I see. Some of the things we all hated are so funny when we look back. It really is nutritious, though! I don't even remember when I first drank ovaltine, I must've been a baby when I started.
Random Chappie   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 06:05 GMT
Hah hah, Marie. I always thought Ovaltine was a bit sickly-sweet, even nauseatingly sweet. Unlike other children, I didn't like sweet things when I was little. I didn't like fizzy drinks either. Consequently, I stuck (and am still sticking) to the basics: tea, water, and milk, in order of preference.

To paraphrase Damian, Tetley tea has un-blurring properties, so Tetley tea is exactly what I'm drinking at this very moment to keep myself awake and alert.

I also notice a difference between old and modern American accents. The voices heard in American news broadcasts and recordings of presidential speeches from the 1920s and 1930s do sound a tiny bit British in intonation but not in accent.
CG   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 13:50 GMT
I have never drunk Ovaltine. The smell was enough to put me off.
Damian   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 19:20 GMT

Hey..enjoy your Tetley brew, mate! It is a cool unblurrer...I have it in a mega sized mug and super strong. You are has the ability to restore life....a panacea. There's another type of Tetley's in the North of comes in halves and pints when the bartender pulls the pump and has enlivening powers of its own. You can get it in pubs in Leeds but I'm no so keen on it.

My mum and sister like Ovaltine and my sis puts sugar in hers..yuk! I haven't had it since I was at school...its full of vits and mins though. I've heard that jingle before and the accent is very Southern English!