Area Resident’s Stylus Counsel | Bands With Fake Accents

Track 67 | Oi, guv’nah, fancy a cuppa?


Man, we used to really laugh at Klaatu. No question the late ’70s Canadian band had some great songs — and even a fairly major hit, made even bigger when The Carpenters covered it. Indeed, Calling Occupants (of Interplanetary Craft) was a winner and there are as many reasons to love it as there are to chuckle at it. The reason we did, however, is the faux British accents. “Interplanetarry crawft.” Lol. They were from Toronto.

Of course, they’re not the only band to adopt a fake accent. For this piece, we’ll steer clear of the racist examples, like fake Mexican and Indigenous accents. Instead, we’ll aim for the pretentious or baffling ones. There are some which might be both, like Illegal Alien by Genesis. Dear gawd. Even the video.

After abandoning his actual debut album, the psychedelic pop Regimental Sgt. Zippo, Elton John went after an Americana sound, though no such designation existed yet (but about to be perfected by Canada’s own The Band). Empty Sky and Tumbleweed Connection are unabashedly American-sounding. Songs like Country Comfort, Western Ford Gateway, My Father’s Gun and Ballad Of A Well Known Gun.

John Fogerty was really American at least — but he sure wasn’t from the south even though he really tried to sound that way. So no, he wasn’t Born On The Bayou. He was born in Berkeley. Doesn’t sound as good. Thankfully, neither Fogerty nor Elton were cringey. Unlike Paul McCartney’s faux Western accent in Rocky Raccoon — originally called Rocky Sassoon. A cowboy cuckold song written by a Scouse while on retreat in India.

I am also not a fan of Mick Jagger’s hillbilly affectation in Far Away Eyes from The Rolling Stones’ 1978 album Some Girls.

One faux accent I absolutely love is Adrian Celentano’s American one on his 1972 single Prisencolinensinainciusol. Got to love the title, as well. The song was Celentano’s response to pressure on the Italian singer-songwriter to do a song in English. Instead, he did a song sung in gibberish which sounded to Italians as though it were English, and done with an American accent. It’s absolutely brilliant and awesome.

Ween are also allowed to do accents anytime they want. Piss Up A Rope, Pollo Asado, The Blarney Stone and this:

My girlfriend introduced me to C.W. Stoneking, who neither looks or sounds like he actually sounds. The Australian legitimately and beautifully sounds like a turn-of-the-century Mississippi blues-folk artist, right down to the production of his albums. It is lovingly done.

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day is often accused of trying to sound like The Clash. Just as The Clash were accused of trying to sound Jamaican. Ditto The Specials. But I’ve never really heard any of it those ways. They just sound like themselves to me.

Joey Ramone certainly aimed to sound very British at times. Beat On The Brat is one of those for sure. But I’m not complaining. The worst fake British accent of all time has got to be Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. I remember my father having to leave the room.

Iggy Azalea has found huge success rapping in an urban American accent, even though she is from Australia. Darrin O’Brien has a Canadian stage name — Snow. But if you heard the white, Toronto native’s 1992 hit Informer, you’d be confused by the Jamaican patois.

I was surprised to discover recently that one band I suspected of being faux-British actually isn’t. When I was a kid, The Monks had a big hit in this country with Drugs In My Pocket. The vocal inflections are really overdone. Drugs in “me” pocket, for example. Vocalist/bass player John Ford lives in the States, but he is British. In fact, he and members of The Monks were members of U.K. band The Strawbs and faced heavy criticism in their home country for what was seen as a disingenuine attempt to capitalize on the popularity of punk. Here in Canada, nobody knew this — or much at all about The Strawbs, really. We just thought they were The Monks and ate it up. They sold more records here than anywhere else. In fact, when they did a followup album, the band did a 21-day tour of Ontario in 1981.

They must have played London. In fact, here’s how I would have booked that 21-day Ontario tour: London, Cambridge, Whitby, Guelph, Brighton, Newcastle, Cornwall, Sudbury, York, Dorset, Essex, Grimsby, Windsor, Stratford, Exeter, Brampton, Uxbridge, Tottenham, Kingston, Sheffield, and Peterborough. Never mind the lift locks.

Oi, here’s a playlist, boyee