Outside of a few vowels, drawls and clipped consonants, almost all singers, regardless of their mother tongue or accent sound pretty much the same when it comes to Western pop and rock songs. Where does their accent go?
Think about how Liam Gallagher sounds when he talks. His Mancunian accent is so strong you want subtitles. Adele is a very clear singer but a very Cockney talker. All the singers in ABBA are very Swedish, but you’d never know it from listening to their songs.
Where do their accents go? For the answer, let’s go to TodayIFoundOut.com
In a nutshell, it has a lot to do with phonetics, the pace at which they sing and speak, and the air pressure from one’s vocal chords. As far as why “American” and not some other accent, it’s simply because the generic “American” accent is fairly neutral. Even American singers, if they have, for instance, a strong “New Yorker” or perhaps a “Hillbilly” accent, will also tend to lose their specific accent, gravitating more towards neutral English, unless they are actively trying not to, as many Country singers might.
For the specific details, we’ll turn to linguist and author, David Crystal, from Northern Ireland. According to Crystal, a song’s melody cancels out the intonations of speech, followed by the beat of the music cancelling out the rhythm of speech. Once this takes place, singers are forced to stress syllables as they are accented in the music, which forces singers to elongate their vowels. Singers who speak with an accent, but sing it without, aren’t trying to throw their voice to be deceptive or to appeal to a different market; they are simply singing in a way that naturally comes easiest, which happens to be a more neutral way of speaking, which also just so happens to be the core of what many people consider an “American” accent.
Read on to learn more.
But then I got this email from Raya: