It always seems that there’s a bias toward US music in the international music scene. No matter where you go in the world, it can’t be too difficult to find American music like Elvis, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, etc. International music can sometimes be a bit naff, a little camp, or altogether just awful; however, if you take the time, you can discover some really great bands. They may not always be singing in English, but some of the best music is completely overlooked by the popular media today. So here’s a list of great musicians you may not have heard of…
If you’re not used to listening to international music, the smoothest transition would probably be to try out some British music first. They sing in English (mostly), and have a lot of similarities with American music. Why don’t you give these bands a try?
The best music festivals here are: T in the Park, Glastonbury, O2 Wireless, Leeds and Reading.
Biffy Clyro are a Scottish band with a dark pop sound. The music is fairly intense, upbeat, and dissonant, but the melodies are haunting and beautiful. You’ll notice right away that they deviate from the mainstream, with a touch of heavy metal. Note: they opened for the Foo Fighters in 2011, and you can definitely hear some similarities. If you like the sound of this, they released their new album Opposites this January.
Belle and Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian are a sweet group that make uplifting, easy to enjoy music. The lyrics to their songs are what make this a truly great band. You’ll like them if you’re into more hippy/alternative music. (Another good song to check out is “Piazza, New York Catcher“). Get your Belle and Sebastian tickets here!
Scouting for Girls
Scouting for Girls are an English band with an upbeat, pop-y sound. You may recognise them from their hit songs “Elvis ain’t Dead” or “Heartbeat”. They’re a great band to listen to now that the weather’s getting nicer–perfect for summer evenings. This is perfect music for singing along with in the car or listening to on the go. Watch out though; these songs will get maddeningly stuck in your head for days.
Scandinavia is usually known for their dance music (like Basshunter) or heavy metal (like Amon Amarth, In Flames, Bodom)–quite a scale! Here are some popular bands that lie a little more in the mainstream.
The best festivals here are: Roskilde, Way Out West, Øya Festival.
You’ve most definitely heard these guys already and didn’t realise they were Norwegian! Their smooth American accents while rapping make their music incredibly easy to listen to. The dynamic duo are always energetic and enthusiastic while performing, and you can definitely hear that energy in their songs. You probably know the songs “Beggin” and “Liar”, which were fairly popular a number of years ago.
Karpe Diem is a rap duo who were born abroad but raised in Norway. They won the “best Norwegian act” award from MTV and have a large musical presence. They have a popular rap sound, and their gritty lyrics reflect their lives growing up with dual home cultures.
Here is a band for the more adventurous… Kaizers Orchestra is different from just about any music you’ve heard. Their sound can only be described as alternative-oompa; a complete deviation from the mainstream. Most people either like or dislike them, so give them a try. One thing that makes them great is their use of the local dialect, from Jæren. My favourite songs are “Prosessen” and “Diamant til Kull“. They will be performing in the US for the first time ever at the Met on the 16 May, and their concerts are always a great time! They are all about showmanship, so don’t be surprised if they step out in gas masks and go mad on stage…
Much of the music from the Eastern European nations doesn’t make it to popularity very far from home. However the music is so rythmic and unique that this is a serious tragedy.
The best festivals here are: Coke Live, Open’er, Sziget, Exit, InMusic Festival.
One band which may appeal to more mainstream sensibilities would be tATu. They’re a funky Russian girl group that has been dominating the scene since the early 2000s, even gaining acclaim in the states. (Check out “All the Things She Said“)
Daniil is a Russian concert pianist who is only 21 years old! You can see Daniil Trifonov at Carnegie Hall next year, so there’s lots of time to get familiar with his work before buying concert tickets. He’s won awards all over the world, and Anthony Tommasini of the The New York Times said on July 29, 2011: “Mr. Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair. He is also a thoughtful artist … he can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors.”
Edward Maya has worked with many talented performers in Romania and more. His most popular song is Stereo Love, which even travelled as far as to the States last summer. His sound is upbeat and happy, with a more chilled vibe.
The western European countries have a much easier time dispersing music into the mainstream. With a close proximity to and relationship with the UK, it becomes a portal for new and classic music.
The best festivals here are: Rock en Seine, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, PinkPop Festival.
No “best bands” list would be complete without Daft Punk. The French techno group carved the way for techno and house music in the 1990s, and they’ll be releasing their newest album Random Access Memories on May 21st.
Digitalism is a German electronica band that has performed at lots of festivals in the US, like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and even Ultra. Next month they’ll be at the Highline Ballroom, with Digitalism tickets prices from only $48!
Bocelli is arguably the best singer of our time. The Italian Tenor has won critical acclaim the world over for his amazing voice, including grand honours from the Italian government, to a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. You can get your tickets for Bocelli at TickPick!
Hope you found something interesting! Now you can spice up your iTunes library with some international tunes, grab some groovy concert tickets, and impress all of your friends! Head over to the best ticket site around, and make sure to sign up for our newsletter for more posts like this.