The British music scene is extremely varied. There are many different types of music and groups that you can enjoy. If you want to, you can go to a techno night at the local club on Friday, a classical concert on Saturday and see a reggae band on stage on Sunday.
It is difficult for groups in Britain to have lots of fans or sell lots of records because there are so many different types of music. Bands do not last long, and very few groups stay in the Top 20, a list of the best-selling records, for more than one or two weeks. It's a world where "everyone is famous for five minutes".
Pop music in Britain is influenced by music from all over the world. Many teenagers like reggae, which comes from Jamaica. They also enjoy dancing and listening to Black-American rap.
Some music in Britain is a mixture of styles. Ragga brings together rap and reggae, for example. Pop music is also influencing traditional music. Recently some young musicians of Asian origin have started to mix bhangra (traditional music from the Punjab region) with Western pop.
Most clubs play different types of music and attract different types of clubbers each night. To get into many clubs you have to be over 18 or 21. Sometimes you have to be a member and there's often a dress code: if they don't like the way you look, they will not let you in.
One of the most popular groups of the 1960s was the Beatles. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were in the group. "The Fabulous Four" came from Liverpool. They began playing together in 1959. They appeared in different clubs until a string of hits in 1962—63 made them Britain's top new band. What followed is usually called "Beatlemania". They became the voice of new generation. They had hit after hit on both sides of Atlantic. By 1970, though, a mixture of drugs arguments and money problems brought the band's career to the end.
Their Greatest Hits include: Love Me Do, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Help, Yesterday, All You Need is Love and others.
The Beatles were polite, wore suits and came from the north of England. The Rolling Stones were different. They didn't smile, they dressed like hippies and they came from London. Their music was different too — rough rock and roll instead of Lennon and McCartney's more complex, melodic songs. But although the Beatles were bigger stars in the 60s, the Stones have had a much longer career. Today they're still one of the world's top rock bands, both on stage and record.
Their Greatest Hits include: I Can't Get No Satisfaction, Paint It Black, Brown Sugar, Undercover of the Night and others.
Pop music is an important British export. Some modern groups, like The Police, Ultravox and Sky, and some modern singers, like
David Bowie, Elton John and Boy George, are well-known internationally.
But if you ever did a musical tour of Britain, you might get some surprise. Electric guitarists and pop singers are not the only musicians to be heard. There are many local traditions of music still very much alive today.
Let's start in the north, in Scotland. The national instrument is the bagpipes. To the Scots such music is the most exciting in the world. Scottish pipers led to the First World War, they led the soldiers into battle, played for their royal masters, and at weddings and funerals. The bagpipes are still very popular, and every town has a pipe band.
In the north of England we come to the land of the brass band. This is the country of factories and coal mines, many of which have their own bands. The Grimethorpe Colliery Band, for example, is internationally famous. The bands have an annual competition, and Britain's best classical composers write music especially for them.
Let's go to central and southern England. Music is always to be found in the village church, where the choir sings the old hymns which every schoolchild learns. Here you can also listen to old folk songs.
Now let's go west, and we will find the best choral music in Wales. The Welsh have always been famous for their singing. Even before the Romans came, 2,000 years ago, their "bards" were known to the ancient world. They still meet every year at the "Eisteddfod", a Welsh competition.
London, like all the great cities of Britain, has a long tradition of classical music. Every night English and international musicians perform in the concert halls and opera houses. London is one of the great classical music centres of the world.