David Lister: Great result, but hardly a new one

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Forty five years ago this month, the Beatles arrived at Kennedy airport in New York to find thousands of screaming fans there to greet them. The British Invasion had happened; and at regular intervals since, the headline is resurrected to signal that British music acts have conquered America.

There's no shortage of such references today. And the success of Robert Plant, Radiohead, Coldplay, Adele and Duffy in the Grammy Awards might seem to suggest that a new British invasion is under way at the end of the Noughties.

But while this haul of Grammys is by any yardstick good news, it hardly represents a flowering of new British talent or a fresh young line-up of artists. Coldplay and Radiohead have been popular in America for some years. Robert Plant has been popular there since before many of the Grammy voters were born. Besides, his latest award-winning incarnation is a partnership with an American – an American who happens to be the most decorated female in Grammy history. There was also an award for Peter Gabriel, again not exactly in the first flush.

Adele and Duffy do, it's true, represent the younger, newer brand of British music, even if it is just one strand – white female soul. And it was certainly good to see Estelle's Kanye West pairing, "American Boy", win best rap/sung collaboration. But America has yet to embrace the more innovative and cutting edge side of current British music. If one is looking, as the Grammys do, at the output of the past 12 months, then what about the Last Shadow Puppets or M.I.A. (who is on the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire)?

It's right that there's a good old dose of self congratulation in the British music industry over the latest Grammy haul. But let's not get too carried away. This was actually America playing it safe with bands and artists that are blazing talents but are well within the comfort and familiarity zones. There's no new invasion just yet.