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  Category: Articles » Arts & Entertainment » Music » Article

International Music Increasing in Popularity in the U.S.

By EZ Tracks

International or world music has never been one of the most popular genres for U.S. audiences, perhaps due to the adherence of American youth culture to trendsetting musical styles. In recent years, however, international music has become something of a cult phenomenon, even among smaller segments of the nation's youth.

Modern international music is typified by the convergence of traditional folk from various corners of the globe and modern rhythmic accompaniment. Often, multiple styles are meshed to form an intricate weave of patterns and melodies that result in a worldly flavor reminiscent of the early indigenous music heard in Sub Saharan Africa but with 21st century appeal. Many styles are represented by international music artists, some of which lean more toward the primal and folk genres while others are a mixture of African, Cuban, Middle Eastern, Australian, South American and Asian traditional music.

Several prominent recording artist of the last few decades have delved into international themes, which has had a positive, though small, effect on the genre as a whole. Paul Simon's multi-platinum "Graceland" album was one of the first examples of a popular artist adding world music sensibilities to traditional songwriting structures. Peter Gabriel has played no small part in the propagation of international music, and has included some tracks that could be classified as such on almost all of his releases as a solo artist. Gabriel is also the creator of WOMAD, the World of Music, Arts and Dance movement.

International music popularity in the U.S. has grown steadily over the last few years, which is especially interesting considering the decline of many other far more traditionally popular styles of music. Many international music artist that have enjoyed popularity in other countries are finding an audience stateside, and a few are even able to tour under their record label sponsors.

Still, the question remains. Why, after so many years of relative obscurity, has international music increased in popularity in the U.S.?

In all probability, the musicians that have produced highly popular music in the US over the last several years are in great part, responsible. Many hip hop and R&B artists as well as those from pop and rock have released popular tracks that feature relatively unknown world music luminaries in a backup role. This has allowed many international music artists to get their name and their sound into the public consciousness. As more and more mainstream artist delve deeper into the pool of international acts and musicians to separate their sound, this trend is likely to continue.
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