Ian Dury performs live on stage in London in 1979 (Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Why do British people seem to lose their accents when they sing?

Unlike many Brits, Ian Dury retained his iconic accent when singing.

Asked by: Ella, California


It’s partly that many of the distinctive characteristics of an accent aren’t reproduced well when you sing. Vowel sounds get stretched, and the precise articulation of the consonants is lost. The result is a neutral baseline accent that sounds vaguely American.

Most of the British artists who keep a noticeable accent have a more spoken, less melodic delivery. Think of Ian Dury (above), or the UK grime scene. But the Americanised accent is also partly a cultural expectation for certain musical genres, such as R&B or mainstream pop. Some bands do retain a strong regional accent, though – The Proclaimers, for example.

Why does music make us feel good? © Getty Images


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