‘I love singing. I’ve loved it all my life and I do it at any given opportunity. I find it a great stress reliever and, the louder I sing, the better I feel…’
I don’t sing in front of anyone apart from Les (sorry about that, LT), so I tend to do most of my singing when I’m driving. I spend two hours a day in my car, going backwards and forwards to work, and I use this time wisely. And by wisely, I mean I learn new songs and practice my harmonies (and occasionally listening to murder podcasts…)
I’d love to tell you I listen to TED Talks and I’m all up on my knowledge of Google algorithms or physics, or whatever the hell it is people discuss on those things, but I don’t. I simply sing.
What I have noticed during my *years* of drive singing – which we will now refer to as ‘dringing’ – is that I don’t seem to have my own accent. I don’t know if this is common, but I sing in the accent of the singer I’m listening to.
The Curse of Country Music
I’m a huge fan of country music. In fact, it’s pretty much all I listen to, save a little Deacon Blue and the occasional John Mayer album.
This means I tend to do most of my ‘performing’ in a Southern US drawl. My favourite artists are from Texas, Kentucky and Oklahoma, so I’m a master of these accents. However, when I sing around the house without music, I’m still Miranda Lambert playing to a sell-out crowd at Lambeau Field.
I have family in Perth, Western Australia. Over the years, I’ve been exposed to artists I’d otherwise never have heard of. One of these is a singer called Missy Higgins. I love her music and her Aussie accent is SO strong.
I sing in Missy’s accent when I accompany her in the background* (*foreground – I sing backing for NO ONE. It’s my car and I’m the superstar). As a result, if you asked me to sing one of her songs in my own accent, I’m not sure I could.
I love being able to hear accents in the way people sing but this seems to have gotten lost a bit over the years. It’s not uncommon to listen to a UK band and have no earthly idea that they’re even from the same island.
The amazing exceptions are people like Paolo Nutini, whose Paisley accent comes through thick and fast. Also, bands like Arctic Monkeys (from Sheffield) and Cast (Liverpool). You can instantly tell the singers are English and they’ve got brilliant regional accents. It makes them stand out in the very best way.
For the most part, though, I can’t work out where anyone comes from. Modern artists all seem to employ some mad mid-Atlantic accent that is indistinguishable from any other.
And then one day, you hear them speak and you’re all like ‘WTF?’. I mean, have you heard Amy Winehouse sing like a Gangster’s moll jazz diva from 20s Chicago and then talk like a Cockney??
I haven’t ONCE heard Justin Beiber sing ‘Despacito, eh?’ like a real Canadian, either. Deport him, I say. Let America have him; he’s only bringing you down.
And then it hit me…. obviously, these stars have spent their entire lives singing along to other people’s songs in their cars on the way to work. This means that, like me, they have no singing accent. They simply take on the style of the person they’re listening to.
When they speak, they do so in the way they’ve been brought up and in the style of the people they’ve grown up with. But when they sing, it goes right out the window.
This leaves me wondering if Americans or Welsh people sing ‘500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers in a Fife twang. Also – do these people then have to google the word ‘haver’ to find out what they’re singing about?? I hope so.
What accent do you sing in?