I was taught early on that listening to singers is a terrible way of getting a sense of their particular accent. This makes sense to some degree, since singing will distorts important distinctions such as vowel length and prosody. But I’ve encountered a few recordings over the years of people singing in pitch-perfect local dialects. Here are a few of them.
Damien Dempsey sings in his own working-class Dublin brogue (a choice that was, from what I’ve been told, a bit controversial). Here is a good clip:
Most Scottish singers blunt the edges of their accents, but not the Proclaimers, who famously maintain the burr:
Despite Northern England producing the greatest rock bands in human history (The Beatles, The Smiths, and Joy Division, to name three colossi), the actual accents of the region don’t get much airplay. Not until Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys came along, that is:
Or, if you want a true-blue Cockney accent that isn’t being screamed by a late-70s punk rocker, there is this bizarre novelty song from the 1950s performed by Stepney’s own Bernard Bresslaw:
But wait, you may be asking? Where are the North American accents?
Well, over here in the New World, we have a long history of “dialect singing” in music. Country music, the blues, hip-hop, and reggae are all genres that are inextricably bound to the accents and dialects in which they were originally performed. As such, it’s a little hard to separate authentic accents from convention, even when these genres are performed by artists with the accent in question.
For you see, we live in a peculiar world, one where a young man from Caboolture, Australia sings as if he grew up in Tennessee: