Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Kate Nash, Puppets and the battle of the mocknies

This week Kate Nash was my pick as Best Song of the Week with "Do Wah Do". It took my a while to fall for this track even though it is just the kind of fun, witty and likeable fare I usually lap up and it's because of that "mockney" accent.

To non-Brits who don't know what that is, I'll have to explain. She sings like she's a working class Londoner (" a cockney" see left for genuine article) even though she sounds nothing like that in real life. Compare a few seconds of these two YouTube clips, the song and an interview:

You probably now get the idea. It's probably something that just irritates British people (particularly irritable ones like me).

I don't mind singing voice affectations in general just this specific one. After all most British singers from the 50s onwards have tried for an American accent, naturally enough as they are working in an American form. It's just accents which seem designed to give the singer a bit of street edge that seem so absurd and posed. Another example is the white British kids who talk or sing like they are Jamaican despite Ali G having completely called out this nonsense a decade ago.

Pearl and the Puppets - a new mockney low
Actually there is another even more absurd example which again ruins quite a good song. Pearl and the Puppets, a much touted new band for 2010, have a song out called "Because I do". It's a light little ditty which builds into a happy-making sing-a-long chorus (which is why it has already been used in Vodafone ads). But listen to the first lines and you have some classic mockney:

"I saw you the other day, you were dreaming that's O Kay" Acceptable if she's from London but she's from Scotland. I maybe wrong and maybe Scots speak like this but I don't think so. Here's an interview with Pearl (actually Katie) who speaks more like she should be making porridge or shortbread adverts.

On a final note, since I'm moaning, what about being accused of mocknification unjustly? Poor old Eliza Doolittle, a previous best song winner with "Skinny Genes", was roundly slagged off for being a mockney in the music press (and copying Kate Nash) but I can't see it myself. She sounds totally unmockney to me.

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