Of all the European countries, you might be surprised to figure which country (in my opinion of course) speaks the best American English. By that, I mean the English whose accent sounds closest to the way Americans would pronounce it. Once you realize I'm looking for American English, then you can easily eliminate the entire of the United Kingdom, who, while speaking English, speak it as the Brits do. They have, I'm sure, no desire to sound American.
It's the Swedes. Oh sure, many of us are conviced that the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show is the epitome of the Swedish accent.
I began to notice the way Swedes pronounced English when I was heavily into watching tennis, which was mostly throughout the 80s. By then, Borg, perhaps still the best Swedish player ever, had retired, unwilling to be brought back to the tour because they had the audacity to demand that he play qualifying rounds. I would imagine that today, they would think otherwise, and take a more NBA approach, and simply give him exemptions.
Borg's success lead quickly to a large contigent of Swedes lead by Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg, and a bunch of lesser known Swedes like Henrik Sundstrom, Joachim Nystrom, Anders Jarryd, Kent Carlsson, Thomas Enqvist, Mikael Pernfors, and Jonas Bjorkman. The heyday of great Swedish players was throughout the 1980s, and began to fade into the 90s when players from Spain and Argentina began asserting themselves more.
While listening to the Swedes get interviewed, I marvelled at how close their accents sounded to American accents. Oh sure, you'd hear the "for sure" that Borg would use when he spoke.
The Swedes have also been successful in one other area of note. Pop music. Of course, there was ABBA, the four member band from Sweden that gave the West such hits as Dancing Queen and Take a Chance on Me. However, Sweden has produced other "excellent" pop bands: Roxette, Ace of Base, and The Cardigans.
Two others that fit in this category are Jens Lekman and The Concretes. To be fair, they're not likely to produce hits like any of the bands just mentioned. They're just artsy enough to be respectable in the indie band.
I just heard an interview with Jens Lekman at audiovant.com. I defy you to think that Jens isn't American except in the kinds of things he says.
I have to say that I found this website in the oddest way. I was looking for the music playlist on WMUC which is the radio station at the University of Maryland. Its signal strength is awful, even while right on Maryland campus. Some days I can hear it all right, other days it's terrible. It's too bad there isn't some way to stream this content like they do on the Internet, because the quality is rather appalling.
I had been listening to the playlist Thursday morning (May 11, 2006) and just looked for who was playing then. It's some guy named Rayhan Hasan who hosts Radio Show Ate My Morning. It turns out he has a website where he puts his playlist. Somewhere in this blog, he mentions the audiovant website, where he's surprised at who they've been able to interview (Jens Lekman, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I'm currently listening to Tapes N' Tapes interview.
It's a pretty new website hosted by Brendan Newnam. I was going to say he has that typical NPR voice and the show seems well-edited. Ah, but it turns out that he was a researcher for Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which is an NPR show. Go figure. Maybe that's giving him some clout to meet with bands.
I hope the site does well. Seems interesting so far.
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