I’ve had pretty limited culture shock since I’ve been in London. The Tube system is the D.C. Metro but better, and London is just another wet and windy city—with much less sun. But when I sat down to dinner on my first night in town at a swanky Italian restaurant and had to listen to Rihanna’s greatest hits on repeat, I realized that this city definitely moves to a different beat.
And when I say beat, I mean just that. Music, tune, note, song; any terminology you want to use. Forget Estelle – London Town is stuck in the 90s.
I wish I could blame international music laws as a reason for the city’s slow matriculation of good music. Although England gets all of the singles from America about a month later than in America, the top ten iTunes playlist still looks significantly different than what you’d except from a teenage to mid 20s music consumer. There’s no Lil Wayne and no Drake. Instead, it’s riddled with poppy numbers from either aspiring solo artists, or even some boy bands. I promise that if the Spice Girls were still together they would be selling albums at the top of the charts. And Princess Diana? In London, Katy Perry is the new people’s princess.
I finally comprehend how different British music taste is the other night. I was pre-gaming in a room with about 7 Brits playing the typical game of “Teach the American how to be less so.” Tonight our topic of choice was music. For an hour straight in jaw clenching agony I sat listening to Be-Witched—“Have you heard of them?” my friend Dave asked me—and Alexis Jordan’s bubble-gummy, feel-good hit “Happiness,”—I beg you to not look it up.
Finally a miracle happened. The song “Get Low,” came on the playlist. I was in the middle of my “To the window, to the wall” routine when I looked around to find everyone staring at me.
“You’re a wigger!” one of the girls said laughing at me.
“Ya,” she responded, “You know all the words. That’s black music.”
Cue the screeching of a record.
That night I learned that “Black music” doesn’t refer to the artist. For example JLS and Rihanna are huge in the UK, but if the music doesn’t fall into the pop category, and resounds around a category all it’s own (ie. Hip- Hop), than it’s not something you will hear played on the radio, in a club or even in a pre-game bedroom. Maybe English music isn’t the only thing stuck in the 90s—attitudes are as well.
I figure I won’t be hearing any Pitbull in the clubs here anytime soon, and I’ll have to just suck it up when listening to “Firework” for the gazillionth time, but I have to say that I look forward to that time when I can once again “Get Low” back in the states.