We could mourn the manner in which English is decreasing in importance as the language of pop music. Our gift to the world now declining in importance in a sad reminder of our own relative decline - but we’ll leave that sort of stuff to the worrywarts on the opinion pages. We would rather point to what a glorious event this is:
English losing crown as unofficial language of pop, as streaming sees Asian and Latin American music climb global chart
There are two ways to explain this:
Songs performed in Spanish, Chinese and Korean are enjoying rising success worldwide, an industry report found.
A report from the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry (IFPI) found that while sales of music in Europe grew a very modest 0.1 per cent in 2018, Latin America grew by 16.8 per cent and Asia and Australasia 11. 7 per cent.
“Some of the fastest growing markets are in Asia and Latin America (South Korea, Brazil), it found, “with Asia becoming the second largest region for physical and digital music combined for the first time”.
It could be that those native speakers of other languages are, for the first time, becoming rich enough to be able to actually spend money on music. That would be cheering, given that we know very well that music is a foundational part of what it is to be human. We really do find flutes and the like from the very dawn of homo sapiens’ existence. The other is, if we prefer to concentrate upon streaming, to note that this new technology now means that the billions can enjoy music. Which is just another way of saying the same thing, that they’re getting richer.
That pop music has been English dominated is the result of an historical coincidence. The technology to have it at any level above the immediately live human performance has only been around some century and a bit. A time when it just happened that the English speaking - with a bit of assistance from other European languages - places were the only ones with the wealth for the technology, the purchases or even the leisure to allow both.
That consumption in other languages is growing strongly tells us that peoples with other native tongues are enjoying that same climb up to leisured wealth that we’ve so enjoyed.
That beat combos are becoming popular while performing in non-English languages is not therefore something to mourn it’s just another symptom of perhaps the greatest event in human economic history. The poor are getting rich. Isn’t that something to sing and dance about?