a question to native speakers of English…

…who also happen to be metal fans.

Why do many American reviewers seem to be obsessed with accents the singers have? And not in the way I would expect – not necessarily bashing those who have never bothered to actually pronounce English words, but more like, y’know, being fascinated by someone’s “subtle accent”.

Okay it’s subtle. Good thing it is subtle. Bad thing it actually is noticeable, but hey. We have forever had to bear with classical singers butchering various European languages to various degrees. Kinda… yeah.

But why the need to point this out at all? And in words that suggest some of those reviewers actually may _enjoy_ a singer displaying an accent?! Not “hey it’s subtle, which is awesome because I have had enough of Mr Kakko’s one!” – but “oooh a subtle accent, neeeeaaaaat”.

Is it a fetish or something?!

I personally hate it that we Europeans can’t speak perfectly unaccented English. Not without extensive training, at least; and most singers can barely afford to pay attention… yeah right, I mean, afford to actually get vocal training. Though there is that (rather large) number of people who clearly never paid attention at school, like, at all. I happen to love some of them regardless, and yet. I don’t understand why they are not being constantly bashed in every review and by every English-speaking producer and reporter they run into. I am normally against bullying, but sometimes I’m not sure anything but brute force could work. You have to be incredibly full of yourself to go on singing on an international level when your English doesn’t sound like English at all. Not like you’re forbidden to write songs in your first language, huh? And often, the worse your pronunciation is, the worse your lyrics are – bad grammar, horrible vocabulary, this sort of bad. It’s hard to see anything artistic in a mess like that.

Is it just me?

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4 thoughts on “a question to native speakers of English…

  1. Not a fetish, but it’s cool. :D We like European accents over here. They sound different, exotic, not what you hear all day on tv or radio. Okay, some people can be difficult to understand, like you mentioned, but still… accents are cool.

    1. Hmmm, that’s interesting. You mean noticeable foreign accents do not make you think that this person may be badly educated or otherwise socially inferior?

      1. Umm, no. Absolutely not. The only accents that make me think that sort of thing are American redneck Southern accents. Yes, I have a strong bias against rednecks, but I control it well. There’s a difference, see: a foreigner speaking with an accent clearly knows at least two languages well enough to get by, where a redneck is demolishing the language he/she grew up speaking.

        1. I wanted to ask you how common you think your sort of view is, but then I remembered that Colorado is a state of magic and your crowd is also not that typical =)

          I guess that you are okay with accented English because you don’t view English as a “school subject”, given that it’s your native language. And here in Europe (not just Russia) English is the No.1 foreign language that everyone studies since childhood but not that many actually study it diligently enough not to sound like an average Italian power metal singer. But the assumption is that if you are educated, you should speak “good English”.

          There’s that thing about native languages, though… Here in Russia, especially the European part, in bigger cities and among people with university degrees (I’m not saying “college degrees” because a “college” in Russia is not an institution of _higher_ education but more like a secondary school with extra vocational training), we tend to be biased against those who speak accented Russian. Those are most often from either Southern regions of Russia like Dagestan, where Russian is not their first language, or Southern post-USSR countries like Uzbekistan. These people rarely have any degrees and they come here to do menial and/or construction work, or they are criminals. I was wondering if it’s not the same in the US with immigrants from Latin America or Eastern Europe.

          And then there is the cultural bias against German accents because the WW2 Nazis were German, and then of course the whole anti-US prejudice, and the ages-old rifts with Ukrainians, Poles and those from the Baltic states… basically Russians don’t like hearing accented Russian much because it often plainly means “enemy”.

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