Why Do So Many Performers Sing in American English?

August 8, 2019


Do you remember the first time that you ever recorded your voice? There's a good chance that it sounded very strange when you listened to the tape. Fact is we cannot hear our own accents, or even the way that our voice sounds to others. This is due to the fact that you hear yourself inside your own head (or resonance chamber). Moreover, if you have lived in the same general area for your entire life and have been surrounded by people with the same accent as you, what you hear every day sounds normal and not like an accent.

Colonists Brought Their Accents with Them

If you go back to the days of Pilgrims, the first English speakers brought their native tongue with them when they began to colonize America. However, linguists point out that the modern American accent sounds a lot closer to how English use to be spoken, than does the current British accent. Called "received pronunciation", as many lower-classed Brits accumulated wealth, they realized their accent pigeon-holed them into a lower class, which heavily influenced new speech patterns and the ever-evolving English dialects.

Accents exist because languages change all the time, but do not change in the same ways at differing locations. If groups that speak the same language have very little interaction, little nuances in how each group speaks will result in two very distinct accents. As far as why so many singers lose their accents when singing, it has a lot to do with phonetics. Since the American accent is a fairly neutral dialect of English, it is often easier to sing in the accent that others are accustomed  to hearing for that song. In other words, an American accent in English pop songs take less effort and concentration than singing in an accent that matches the singer's default speaking voice.

General American English Is Considered to Be Accent-Less

Currently, there is no neutral accent used on a global level. Nonetheless, people do seem to lose their native accent through song. Music experts have suggested that the rhythms and cadence of pop songs were written to suit an American voice, whereas others feel the rock singers who made up the "British Invasion" merely copied the artists and style of music they chose to sound like. After all, a lot of traditional British rock was derived from American blues and soul music. Another theory suggests that singers simply lose their accent and sound more neutral when they sing as compared to when they speak. Furthermore, it could be just by chance that so many pop songs sound as though they are recorded with an American voice. If you look at the bottom line, there is also considerable evidence to support the notion that sounding American is more popular globally as well as more profitable for the singer internationally.

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