British artists invade American music in third wave

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Many
people may or may not know that we are currently seeing a resurgence of
the British invasion. The first wave came in the ’60s, followed by a
second wave in the ’80s. Now, almost 30 years later, many artists are
leaving behind the U.K. and coming to America to try their luck at the
American dream: a hit single and album.

Over
the last year, nearly a dozen artists have invaded our shores hoping for
a hit. Some have had success, like One Direction, Ellie Goulding and
Cher Lloyd, while others have struggled to make an impact, such as Emeli
Sande and Rebecca Ferguson.

One Direction, the group that might have restarted the resurgence of
British acts in America, burst onto the scene in fall 2010 by  competing on the U.K. version of “The X Factor,” eventually
finishing third. The group released its album “Up All Night” overseas last
fall and on this side of the Atlantic earlier this spring.

The
album contains the massive single “What Makes You Beautiful,” a song about a girl who is beautiful because she does not know
she is beautiful accompanied by a guitar riff reminiscent of “Summer Nights” from “Grease.”

A mere eight months after hitting North American shores, One Direction released their sophomore album “Take Me Home” on Tuesday, which was preceded by the single “Live While We’re
Young.” The song sounds like a carbon copy of “What Makes You Beautiful,” but instead of telling girls how beautiful they are, the boys are now
singing about one-night stands.

Another artist who has invaded the states, although with less instant success, is Ellie Goulding. Goulding released her album “Lights” in
North America during spring 2011.

At the time of its initial
release, Goulding’s album full of folk-tronic songs with light, breathy
vocals slipped under the radar. It wasn’t until August of this year that
the title track from the album climbed to the No. 2 spot on the
Billboard Hot 100.

The very next day, Goulding released the lead single, “Anything Could Happen,” from her second album entitled “Halcyon.” Not only did the song “Lights” eclipse the new single, but it also managed to secure a spot on
Goulding’s second album, where it sounds out of place. “Halcyon” is not a complete departure from the sound of “Lights” but it
is much heavier in terms of beats and electronic influence.

Like One Direction, 19-year-old Cher Lloyd competed on the U.K.’s “The X
Factor” in 2010, finishing fourth. On her first rapping/singing single, “Swagger Jagger,” she sampled “Oh My Darling, Clementine” and shouted brash rhymes about everyone staring at her and
trying to “jag” her swag. She then followed it up with “With Ur Love” and “Want U Back” both of which show off a softer side of Lloyd.

The
latter of those singles became Lloyd’s U.S. debut and peaked at No. 12
on the Hot 100 on Aug. 11. Most of Lloyd’s album “Sticks + Stones” features more
singing than rapping but still features the attitude she displayed in “Swagger Jagger.”

Her newest single “Oath” features another rapper/singer
named Becky G. who may be the American counterpart to Lloyd, if Lloyd
was not very good. “Oath” is an ode to friendship that may not sound
like a 360-degree turn from “Want U Back,” but it certainly doesn’t sounds like it belongs on the same album as “Swagger Jagger.”

Not everyone has been as lucky as Lloyd and Goulding. Singer-songwriter Emeli Sande released her album “Our Version of Events” in
June to limited commercial success in the U.S., despite being the best-selling album of the year in the U.K.

“Our Version of Events” sounds like
a cross between the bombastic percussion of Beyonce and the emotional
longing of Adele. Standouts include the upbeat “Next to Me” about a
lover who can do no wrong and the ballad “Breaking the Law.”

Yet another “The X Factor” contestant to leave the U.K. in search of U.S.  success is Rebecca Ferguson, who beat both One Direction and Cher Lloyd
for runner-up in 2010. Ferguson released her album “Heaven” in May
and scraped into the top-30 albums on the Billboard 200.

The single “Nothing’s Real But Love,” arguably the worst song on the album, had
minor success on the R&B; charts. Every song on “Heaven” is better
than the lead single, from “Glitter & Gold,” an ode to the dark side of fame, to the heartbreaking “Teach Me How To Be Loved” and the
upbeat album closer “Backtrack.”

The re-invasion shows no signs of slowing down, with British acts like
Conor Maynard and the all-female band The Saturdays planning on releasing albums in
2013. Will they follow the paths of One Direction and Cher
Lloyd and become worldwide superstars or end up crawling back to their
own shores? No one can say, but one thing is for sure — for every
Ellie Goulding, there is a Rebecca Ferguson to balance the equation.

Zach Foley is a freshman in secondary education. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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