Why British Singers Lose Their Accent When Singing
One day my son and I were listening to some music and he told me the singer was British.
“Really?!” I said. “He sounds American to me.”
“All singers sound American,” he replied in a matter of fact kind of way.
“No they don’t,” I countered.
So we proceeded to play music by a variety of foreign artists: Adele, the Beatles, Phil Collins, Sia…
They all sounded American. How can that be?
My son who is a musician had an answer: “They are singing the vowels.”
In a way, he was right. The rhythm of the song was disrupting the normal speech rhythm and stress patterns related to these singers’ native language. Because the stressed words are stretched out, it’s the vowels that become prominent. As an example, listen to the chorus from the theme of the Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On“. Interestingly, the song is sung by Celine Dion who normally speaks with a French Canadian accent.
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
The vowels are all stretched out and they have a very neutral quality, very much like American vowel sounds.
So there you have it: The reasons why all singers sound American.