By Kirsty Fraser
Little Mix are celebrating this week after landing their first US number 1 with their 2nd album ‘Salute’. The album went straight to the top only a day after its release on the iTunes album chart and knocked Bruno Mars from the coveted spot. Their success marks them as the latest band, in the current line-up of British acts, to take over the US airwaves of late.
The other obvious stars causing a stir in American territory have been young upstarts One Direction. Creating pandemonium wherever they go, they entered the world of pop on a high when their debut album ‘Up All Night’ went straight to number 1, making them the first British group in US chart history to enter that position with a debut record.
Away from the X-Factor, stars such as Adele and Mumford & Sons have also had recent success across the pond. All the while, stalwarts such as Coldplay and U2 – whilst not releasing anything currently – continue to maintain dominance both here and abroad. What all of this proves is that the 3rd British invasion to the American charts is well and truly on, but is this success sustainable or will it fall away as it has in previous decades?
The first attack by the Brits came in the 60s with The Beatles and The Stones. Whilst in the 80s it was bands like Duran Duran and A Flock of Seagulls that had American’s hungry for more, but it didn’t last long. The 90s and early noughties were tough on UK acts trying to make it big across the water. Bands such as Spice Girls and Take That would have choreographed themselves to death for dominance in the US, but for some reason our love for Baby, Sporty, Posh, Scary and Ginger never quite translated to our American friends. Meanwhile, on the indie front, acts such as Oasis and Blur were too busy fighting with each other to make decent headway into the Billboard Hot 100.
Our recent turn of luck with the Yanks seems to have coincided rather nicely with a wave of love for all things British. Not only are we wreaking havoc musically but our acting talent is also causing a stir, with actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston leaving American girls hot under the collar. Our love for a good period drama hasn’t gone unnoticed either; Downton Abbey has found massive success with Americans desperate to know more about the upper echelons of high society, whilst gritty crime drama Broadchurch is being remade for stateside audiences – complete with David Tennant reprising his role, American accent in tow.
Perhaps one of the reasons we’ve become ‘cool’ is related to the media frenzy created by our fresh, young Royals. Events such as the birth of William and Kate’s baby last year have sold papers by the millions and the life and times of the handsome – but sometimes reckless – Prince Harry has engaged a raft of US women and given us uber credibility.
Of course, Simon Cowell has also played a major part in the spell. With numerous versions of X-Factor around the world it’s difficult for people not to be swept up. Global stars can now, it seems, be easily created as Simon punts each countries winner over to each version of the show – ensuring a massive raft of support for any band or act who goes the distance. One Direction are certainly testament to that. But whilst the UK version of X-Factor has created scenes not seen since The Beatles the shows US winners haven’t really made an impact over here – Alex & Sierra anyone? Apparently they won last years American version of the show.
So can the invasion last? Well unlike previous UK assaults this one is buoyed by the fact that it doesn’t just consist of one or two bands creating waves. The most recent Hot 100 – the rundown of the biggest US singles – lists Bastille, Ellie Goulding and John Newman all within the current top 40. The Billboard 200 – the album chart – see’s Bastille, Mumford & Sons and of course One Direction all riding high.
It may well be that the 3rd invasion will become a long-term occupation. Digital platforms and social media use have created rich and diverse ways for artists to reach out to people on a Global level and the future for UK music looks positive where America is concerned. It seems likely that it won’t just be Little Mix who’ll be celebrating. 2014 looks set to have everyone saluting to the sound of UK music.