Lyrics, Beats from Abroad

Published: January 18, 2012, 11:42 pm ET
Guest Columnist

While spending six months in a foreign country without the radio blasting out the latest pop hits and Bruno Mars-driven rap songs, I had to start listening to the local music to get some fresh songs to ride the tube with. Because I was in England, I already knew a fair amount of bands such as Coldplay and Mumford and Sons from their breakout hits in America. It was the tips from my flatmates that allowed me to bring back my iPod filled with new songs and artists who I had never heard of, and who are frankly better than most of the stuff that goes mainstream here. I listen to every type of music, but I am going to go ahead and throw out a few artists and songs that you may never have heard of, in hopes of getting some new fans for the bands.

Ed Sheerhan – Traktor (Sirius XM recording)

I’ve got to thank a Brit who was studying abroad in the U.S. for first showing me this song by Ron Weasley look-a-like, Ed Sheerhan. The song is actually a cover of a rap song done by Wretch 32, but Sheerhan completely transforms it into a different song. After listening to this song on repeat for a few days, apologetic to my roommate who hates hearing the same song, I went online and found his CD called “+.” A weird title, but it’s a great CD and pretty much every song on the album is worth hearing. Sheerhan is kind of like a British Jason Mraz, but it works for him, and he puts together a good collection of raps and songs that make him worth checking out.

Professor Green – Forever Falling

If Eminem had a British accent, he would sound a lot like Professor Green with better lyrics. Hailing from Hackney in London, people may have heard a bit of him on “Monster,” one of his more popular tracks that I’ve heard in America. His latest album “At Your Inconvenience” has a nice flow to it and has some songs featuring popular artists from London. It also has songs like “Forever Falling” that are a bit more pop-like, along with aggressive tracks like “Nightmare” featuring Royce Da 5’9. I enjoyed both of Professor Green’s albums, and since he has a ton of mixtapes as well, there is no shortage of his music.

I found new music while in England, and I’ll list a few more notable Brit bands below, but both Sheerhan and Professor Green produced albums that I thought were great all the way through, which is a rarity these days. When going to orientation at the International Center the advisers told us to immerse ourselves in the culture, and music is a huge part of the culture of any country that you visit. While England isn’t so different language-wise, it’s always fun to hear a new artist and the ways an accent changes the way he or she approaches a song.

If you want to check out some other artists, try:

Tinchy Stryder – “Number One”

N-Dubz – “Playing With Fire”

Frightened Rabbit – “Backwards Walk”

Plan B – “Praying”

Loick Eissen – “Me Without You”

Labrinth – “Earthquake ft. Tinie Tempah”

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