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Pitch, Please!: British beats

10 October 2012 By Kristopher Jones, Columnist No Comments

To be honest, I did not think The Wanted was going to make a dent in the music scene overseas. If you don’t know The Wanted, they are a UK boy band that formed in 2009. They had a string of hits in their native Kingdom and decided to try it out here in the US. As much as I like them, I thought it was going to be another failed attempt. Americans usually don’t embrace musicians (especially those of the boy band breed) as warmly as they did in the past.

The Wanted performed their single “Glad You Came” on Ellen back in January. This was their first US television debut and everything seemed to be moving forward for them. The song peaked in the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 and paved the way for One Direction to become bigger than they are.

Ironic isn’t it? Another overseas success early this year was Belgian singer Gotye. In the summer of 2011, he had a hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” in his native country as well as Australia and New Zealand. “Somebody That I Used to Know” is a morbid break up song with I would equate as a male version of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” I just had this gut feeling that it would become big in other parts of the world, but I thought it would be sometime in the Spring/Summer of 2012.

Nope! A cover of the song popped up on YouTube back in January by a band called Walk Off The Earth, who bizarrely shared and played one guitar. The Gotye version has sold more than six million copies here in the US to become one of the biggest selling digital singles of all time. To the point you say? OK.

The point is I’m wary of American music consumers. Usually when a song gets so much love, it usually becomes immortalized in the one hit wonder hall of fame. Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Blasphemy!”

America doesn’t pick up an artist, milk them for a song then dismiss them when they released new material years later. That’s just absurd!

What about James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful?” No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2006? He hasn’t had a Hot 100 hit since and he has released two more albums after that.  Who remembers “Untouched” by Australian pop twins The Veronicas? It reached No. 17 back in 2008 and went platinum, but where’s their second hit? It’s not like other countries don’t do this as well, but I have to give the UK some credit. They usually embrace the artists that we kick to the curb. With the influx of international artists storming the charts now, you have a better chance of making it, America, but you’d have to market yourself pretty well to stand out amongst your foreign peers.

But I don’t just blame the American music consumer. It isn’t entirely our fault. There are record labels that barely promote their internationally signed artists, and the radio stations that don’t play their music in favor of the same five songs over and over each hour. I hope America is a bit more merciful and at least gives these artists another few hits before they move on to the next big thing.


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