UK vs. USA: Pop Music In 2011

The battle continues on.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

If there’s one thing that divides opinion between our two fine countries, it’s our music. Whether you stand proudly bellowing London Calling, or run your fingers along an imaginary fretboard whilst playing air guitar to Foxy Lady, the UK and the USA have been at the forefront of almost every musical revolution this past century and as such the debate between which culture births the best musicians is a fervent one.

But let’s not dwell in the past. It would be easy for me to simply point you in the direction of The Beatles and run away giggling triumphantly, but should focus on the musicians that we have right now, in the 21st century, like oh, I dunno, Justin Bieber.

God, look at him. Don’t you just hate him, with his hair and his hugely successful career? I mean, it’s not like you can just turn the radio station over when his songs come on or anything. You’re forced to listen to him. It’s like that scene in A Clockwork Orange: you’re metaphorically strapped to a chair, your eyelids glued open as “Never Say Never” is looped repeatedly until you pass out and wake up a fourteen year-old Belieber.

Or, at least this is what those ‘Haterz’ would lead you to believe. In actuality you can happily go about your life with nary a glimpse of Beebs’ perfectly straightened locks. At the time of writing I have heard but one Justin Bieber song, and my only knowledge of him other than that consists of what I have read in lamentable gossip tabloids. Other than that my existence has been completely Bieber-free, and will continue to be that way until the world is taken over by pre-teens and the fresh-faced warbler is appointed our overlord (which has already almost happened:

The same dolts who claim that “sh*t like this Bieber kid is what’s killing the music industry” are the dolts who are killing the music industry, by illegally downloading and forcing record companies to keep investing in the tried ‘n’ tested rather than putting money into something new and original. It’s also the reason why the cinema is cluttered with nonsense like Final Destination 5 and The Smurfs, but that’s an argument for another day.

When “breakout stars” largely amount to someone-who-kind-of-sounds-like-someone-else and talent-show-runner-up-number-72, it’s difficult to judge someone for making a blanket statement about pop music in 2011 being eardrum torture. However, if you take off your thick-rimmed glasses and vintage chequered shirt, you may find that behind the terrible Dubstep and tracks featuring Pitbull, there are actually some tunes out there that are not only tolerable, but actually enjoyable.

Even though here in the UK it is almost impossible to walk anywhere without bumping into Adele (fat pun partially intended), there’s also good music coming from the likes of Jessie J, Wretch 32, Ed Sheeran and… erm… well, that’s about it. Did I mention The Beatles?

Over in the US you have superstars like Rihanna and Katy Perry (whose contribution to music has been twofold *nudge nudge wink wink*) and, of course, the incomparable force of one Lady Gaga, who I personally find to be an average pop warbler disguised underneath a beef hat. However, her new song “Yoü and I”, annoying placement of an umlaut aside, is actually a barnstormer of a pop song and as I have the memory of a dyslexic goldfish I’m going to openly state that I quite like her now. Take THAT, commenters:

Depressingly, as I have reached the end of this article I have realised that not only are the UK’s stars not as good as those in the US, but when compared they seem like petrified simpletons begging for access to the Mount Olympus of Pop, whilst Gaga cackles and throws lightning bolts at them and Madonna sits in the corner picking her teeth with a Grammy.
You have Rihanna sultrily singing about whips, chains and sordid sex; we have Cheryl Cole shagging a footballer in the Bahamas. Still, remember Sgt. Peppers? What a classic that was, right? RIGHT?!

UK: 1
USA: 3


Photo Credit: Adriana M. Barraza /