When we think of the term “The British Invasion,” we often think of a 1960s movement where strong influences in British music seem to take over American airways with extreme power and likeability, so much so that fans prefer to hear this music more than anything else on the radio at the time. We think of influences such as The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones. More recently, this kind of music has come from the up and coming boy band, One Direction, or British powerhouse, Adele. The reality is that the British Invasion encompasses so much more of our pop culture than just music; it seems to take over our day-to-day lives (yes, in the 1960s, but also now). Where centuries ago we fought for our freedom and independence in the American Revolution, now it seems as if we kind of welcome the phenomena of our once beloved homeland taking over. Below are five examples of the most loved icons from British culture who/that have not only crossed over the pond, but who we have made room for in our lives and hearts.
As perhaps the best known rockband from Liverpool, England, John, Paul, George, and Ringo have warmed our hearts collectively as The Beatles. After forming in the early 1960s, the band acquired many nicknames and fandoms such as “The Fab Four” and “Beatlemania.” They are also considered the leaders of the British Invasion after gaining international recognition with musical hits such as “Love Me Do,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and “A Hard Days Night.”
The Beatles have truly made a name for themselves and have become role models for up and coming acts on how to create music that is timeless. But what was it about this band that still makes us fall under their spell of magic and music fifty years later? Perhaps it was the rock and roll attitude, the sex, drugs, and scandal, or maybe it is simply good music?
With a new-ness and uniqueness to their sound, The Beatles have conquered the world of rock ‘n’ roll and brought pleasure to our ears. Whether it is “Yellow Submarine,” “Help,” “Let It Be,” “Ticket to Ride,” “All You Need is Love,” “Hey Jude,” “Revolution,” or “Come Together,” The Beatles music always makes us remember, laugh, smile, cry, think…feel. Their music makes us feel, and shouldn’t good music always do that?
So thank you to four young men who wrote, who sung, who played the drums, and who paved the way for artists after them to make us think, feel…and simply be.
Alright, I’m going to be honest. David Beckham, while a British (and international) soccer star, is on here for the ladies. This thirty-seven-year-old athlete has played soccer (known as “football” in his homeland) for the last twenty years, been captain for six of those years, been runner-up for Fifa World Player of the Year twice, and has been featured in many ads for Coca-Cola, H&M, and Hanes. Beckham is also a devoted husband to Victoria Beckham (otherwise known as “Posh Spice” of Spice Girl fame), with whom he has four children.
Beckham is one of the most-known athletes around the world, but has also become an international icon for his personal life, relationships, advertisements, entrepreneurial projects (like his own cologne), and charitable work. Beckham has paved the way for other British athletes like Andy Murray and Gordon Banks.
The Harry Potter Franchise:
Joanne Rowling (J.K.) is a British novelist who has gained worldwide recognition, including multiple awards and has sold hundreds of millions of copies of her acclaimed literary fantasy book series, Harry Potter.
With characters such as Harry Potter (a young wizard), his friends Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger, and arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort (a dark wizard), among others, the series takes place in the fictional world in which Hogwartz School of Witchcraft and Wizardry teaches the students how to become the magical beings they are truly destined to become. Rowlings series, and the movies based off of her novels, have become the Best-Selling Book Series and Highest Grossing Films in history, respectively. Furthermore, every single person, whether they have read the stories, watched the films, or have simply heard if the tales, has been touched by the world J.K. Rowling has created with her words, which is truly magical and something every author inspires to do.
Monty Python (otherwise known as “The Pythons”) were a British comedy group, who were said to have a similar influence on comedy that The Beatles have had on music. The group has created Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British comedy sketch show in the late 1960s, numerous albums, books, and a musical.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail brought the groups sarcasm and wit to a new level when it parodied the legend of King Arthur’s adventures to find The Holy Grail. The film had great commercial success following its 1075 release and was used as inspiration for the musical Spamalot (which won a Tony Award in 2005).
The Pythons have been seen as cult icons and influences for the Saturday Night Live cast in the United States. In a 2005 poll, three of the six Python members, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin were ranked on the list of The Top 50 Greatest Comedians Ever at numbers 2, 21, and 30, respectively.
Romeo & Juliet:
William Shakespeare’s tragedy (tragic comedy), Romeo & Juliet, is considered to be one of the most classic love stories ever told. The tale takes place in the late sixteenth century and covers the meeting of two young lovers, who will destined to be with one another, were star-crossed, and only able to be together truly on death.
While it was written several centuries ago, Romeo & Juliet is still one of the highest acclaimed stories of all time, and loved by many who wish for a love as strong as these two teenagers who are willing to die for one another. The real tragedy becomes the belief that this romance is “idealic.” Who wants this kind of love? This kind of marriage? This kind of death?
The reality is, while many around the world are obsessed with the “love story,” perhaps it is not the story itself, but instead the spell of British Culture taking over our lives with magic and awe. Maybe it is the love of the British Invasion of our pop culture, literature, and world of sports that makes us able to appreciate words and images from long ago.
“The British Invasion,” is so much more than The American Revolution or the 1960s Musical Movement. You could be the most patriotic person there is and still be completely resistant to the idea that we all love the Brits, but think about it, where would we be without: Adele, Simon Cowell, Hugh Laurie, Christian Bale, Downtown Abbey, Doctor Who, a good cup of tea, our love (secret obsession) of the royal family, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Monty Python, William Shakespeare, the Bronte Sisters (Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights), Harry Potter, David Beckham, Andy Murray, The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Winston Churchill, John Locke (the philosopher, not the character from LOST), Thomas Hobbes (yes, these two are back again..), Olivia Newton John, Sir Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Amy Winehouse…the list goes on and on. Take a deep breath. It is ok, really. Maybe Britain’s taking over, but it is going to be just fine, because we honestly, truly, madly, deeply, simply…don’t mind.