We're big in our home country filter - I'm looking for bands that are famous back home, but not well known internationally.
February 9, 2006 4:11 AM   Subscribe

We're big in our home country filter - I'm looking for bands that are famous back home, but not well known internationally.

I'm not looking for "world music" or specifically talented, but bands that are really popular, trendy, or well known in their countries (i.e. Fito Paez in Argentina).

Links with audio (or at least samples) are super appreciated.
posted by BigBrownBear to Media & Arts (67 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Modern Talking maybe? They are huge in Europe, but I don't know of anyone in the U.S. who has heard of them?
posted by k8t at 4:15 AM on February 9, 2006

The Frames in Ireland. Although they have a small following in US and elsewhere, they're huge at home.
posted by ascullion at 4:19 AM on February 9, 2006

In the UK there's Sir Cliff Richard, a megastar here, who (you lucky people) is practically unknown elsewhere.

I'll spare you any links. No-one deserves to hear Cliff.
posted by essexjan at 4:23 AM on February 9, 2006

Speaking of Ireland - Daniel O'Donnell? He's far too big over here, and I'd ike to hope no-one has heard of him outside of Ireland!
posted by twistedonion at 4:30 AM on February 9, 2006

Not current -- but I recall that when I lived in the UK from 76-79, a band called "Boney M" was huge -- but no one in the states had ever heard of them.
posted by davidmsc at 4:37 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: interesting stuff. i saw the Frames in NYC. They're great - everyone there was irish.
posted by BigBrownBear at 4:38 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: Here in Spain, I remember Ella Baila Sola and Ska-p being pretty huge. I don't think they had much of a following outside the country.
posted by BigBrownBear at 4:39 AM on February 9, 2006

That Robby Whatshisface gay guy from "Take That" who's big in the UK and a nobody elsewhere.

And essexjan, it's funny-- everyone in the US knows "Devil Woman" but nobody knows who sang it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:41 AM on February 9, 2006

Robby Williams has had a few hits in the U.S. and is big in the rest of Europe, Mayor.
posted by k8t at 4:42 AM on February 9, 2006

Robby Williams has had a few hits in the U.S.

Huge in Australia, damn his eyes.

Has anyone outside Australia heard of Cold Chisel?
posted by pompomtom at 4:50 AM on February 9, 2006

Thailand - Carabou
posted by the cuban at 4:50 AM on February 9, 2006

I've heard of Cold Chisel - kinda like an unsubtle, poor man's CCR.
posted by the cuban at 4:51 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: There is some other band an aussie friend was telling me about...is it Rocket Science or something like that?
posted by BigBrownBear at 4:53 AM on February 9, 2006

The Tragically Hip, in Canada.

Pratra Vetra (aka Brainstorm), in Latvia.


The Frames are a good one for Ireland.

There are tons of appropriate UK ones (Cliff Richard's perhaps the best suggestion, however).
posted by Marquis at 4:56 AM on February 9, 2006

This is a great question.
I'll second the recommendation for the Frames, they are an awesome band, i've seen them live many times, cos i'm super cool. Their most famous song is Revelate or maybe The Dancer. I'm not sure how mat feels about linking to copyright music these days so i wont just yet.

Other Irish bands huge at home but who never quite made it: Aslan, The Stunning, The Waterboys, Therapy, An Emotional Fish. Also maybe the Fat Lady Sings (listen to Arclight if you can).

Other question - Are Belle & Sebastian and British Sea Power well known outside Uk & Ireland? Cos i'd really recommend them too.

Lastly, the Stone Roses never really broke the States, but everyone knows of them these days i think, yes?

Really lastly, i got a good laugh out of the Daniel O'Donnell link, the mans support is so huge here you just have to laugh. I think he still does his "drop in for a cup of tea and a chat" at his house in Donegal. Thousands and thousands of folks travel to see him. He had to stop for a couple of years cos people were taking bits of turf from the garden to take home as souveneirs.
posted by kev23f at 4:57 AM on February 9, 2006

The Tragically Hip have been the definitive Canadian rock band for the last fifteen years but never managed to make an impression in the US. They play stadiums anywhere in Canada and tiny bars in America (where most of the audience is Canadian fratboys who have driven eight hours to get to the show).
posted by Gortuk at 4:58 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: no offense to the tragically hip but i have no idea why they're so popular. in the states familiar with stone roses, british sea power, and belle & sebastiank though i dont think they're as popular.
posted by BigBrownBear at 5:06 AM on February 9, 2006

Ok what the hell, here's those two Frames songs:

The Frames - Revelate

The Frames - The Dancer

Matt or Jessamyn, feel free to delete if this is frowned upon...
posted by kev23f at 5:07 AM on February 9, 2006

Some Belgian bands. Most (if not all) of the websites contain samples and video clips.

Absynthe minded
Admiral Freebee (biggest hits)
Arsenal (check out Switch, Either, Saudade and the other songs)
Gabriel Rios (biggest hit)
Janez Detd
K's Choice
Ozark Henry
Soulwax, and their side-project 2many dj's
Stash (one of the biggest radio-hits of 2005 (I think it's boring though))

Marc Moulin
Praga Kahn / Lords of Acid

...and many, many more
posted by lodev at 5:13 AM on February 9, 2006

Johnny Halliday in France.
posted by fire&wings at 5:18 AM on February 9, 2006

Kent in Sweden. iTunes links here.
posted by martinrebas at 5:23 AM on February 9, 2006

Duncan Dhu (group, no longer recording) and Mikel Erentxun (group's former lead singer). From Spain. Can't find any decent links. Let me know if you want to hear anything.

Los Rodriguez (group, no longer recording) and Andrés Calamaro (group's former lead singer). From Argentina, but Calamaro lived/lives in Spain, so there's definite cross-over following in both countries. (Calamaro's site just pushes his latest album, a live recording that's not all that great. So I didn't link.)

Estopa. Group from Spain. Flamenco-tinged rock.

Jarabe de Palo. Group from Spain. Apparently has achieved some success in Italy, but I don't think as much in other Spanish-speaking countries (apart from Spain).

Joaquín Sabina. From Spain. If you know about Paez, you probably know Sabina. He has a definite following outside of Spain, but is probably not much known in the States, for example.

Rosana. From Spain's Canary Islands. Great music. Bonus: Cool accent.
posted by veggieboy at 5:37 AM on February 9, 2006

Just bands, right? There are *tons* of them in Japan, because so much of the music just never leaves the country: Mr. Children, Glay, Spitz and Southern All Stars just to name some of the biggest ones that pop into my mind at the moment... An example a bit more on the "hip" side might be Qururi. I have albums by all of these bands, and they can all fill up dome-sized venues in their concert tours here (tickets impossible to get unless you belong to a fan club), but nobody outside of Japan has probably even heard of them... except maybe in other Asian countries. If you include solo artists, the list could go on forever.
posted by misozaki at 5:54 AM on February 9, 2006

I'm in the UK and I know of (and like) The Tragically Hip.

Oh and Cliff Richard is the worst thing ever. For those of you that don't know, he released a song a few years ago that was The Lord's Prayer set to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Yes, THE LORD'S PRAYER TO THE TUNE OF AULD LANG SYNE. It's horrible.
posted by Lotto at 5:57 AM on February 9, 2006

Our Lady Peace is pretty damn big in Canada still, aren't they? And they're pretty much unknown outside of Canada. The Barenaked Ladies hit it huge in the states over the last 5 years or so, but before that they were pretty much unknown outside of Canada. Here in Ireland, at least, they're only really known for maybe one song.

Stereophonics and Travis are pretty big in Ireland and the UK, but they're pretty much non-bands in North America (not sure about the rest of Europe though).

And Robbie Williams, while huge just about everywhere else in the world, is pretty much a non-entity in North America. He had a hit or two with Rock DJ and Millennium, but is otherwise considered a flop there. That's why he lives in LA - he can walk to the corner store with pretty much zero worries about being recognized. He wouldn't be able to step from a car to the curb in most other places around the world.
posted by antifuse at 6:05 AM on February 9, 2006

DEUS are brilliant, they had quite a bit of success throughout Europe though. Saw them at Glastonbury, must have been 10-20,000 at it - suds n soda, top tune!
posted by twistedonion at 6:06 AM on February 9, 2006

Stereophonics and Travis are pretty big in Ireland and the UK, but they're pretty much non-bands in North America

and rightly so!!!
posted by twistedonion at 6:06 AM on February 9, 2006

Soulwax are Belgian?? The things you learn.

Not many people outside of France have heard of Téléphone
posted by jontyjago at 6:09 AM on February 9, 2006

Many of the bands that are really big in the UK tend to sell well in Europe but often don't make much of an impact elsewhere, especially the US. Just looking at the UK Charts - Texas is a big UK band but I don't believe they've had a lot of success outside of Europe. Sugarbabes is another example. Arctic Monkeys are huge here but not yet so in US. Robbie Williams is a classic example as is Paul Weller both solo and in The Jam.
posted by gfrobe at 6:15 AM on February 9, 2006

As a Malaysian, I am familiar with Modern Talking, Boney M (ah, the wonders of growing up in a disco family), Sir Cliff Richard, Robbie Williams (REALLY BIG in Asia), Belle & Sebastian, Glay (I've got friends who are big Jpop fans), Our Lady Peace, The Barenaked Ladies, Stereophonics and Travis.

Big bands/singers in Malaysia unknown elsewhere: (this is a mix of alternative and mainstream)

Poetic Ammo
Too Phat (those two have since disbanded though)
Ning Baizura
Siti Nurhaliza (the Queen of Malaysian music - if she's nominated in any music award category, automatic win)
Sheila Majid
M. Nasir
Zainal Abidin
Mawi (winner of reality TV singing show who inspires as much mass hysteria as Clay Aiken)
Anyone who's a winner of Akademi Fantasia/Malaysian Idol
Sharifah Aini
Anita Sarawak (she performs in Las Vegas now)
The band that did "Isabella"

...and I'm out of ideas.
posted by divabat at 6:18 AM on February 9, 2006

Oh yeah, to expand on gfrobe: whatever's mainstream in both the UK and the US tends to be really big in Asia - sometimes bigger than in their home country (NSync and the Backstreet Boys both got bigger successes in Asia before being huge in the US). And for some reason EVERYONE is big in Japan.

So some of the bands that will be mentioned in this thread most likely are big in Asia one way or another. (Texas and Sugababes - the Sugababes especially - are great examples.)
posted by divabat at 6:22 AM on February 9, 2006

In Russia, it's really tough to avoid club music. Either the music sounds like T.A.T.U. or like T.A.T.U. without guitars and more elements of house. If you want that sort of music, check out Diskoteka Avariya (warning: link to flash site with sound). But, there's some cool music to be had from the country. Some of the most popular music in the middle of the century (with highly dissident themes, though usually so metaphorical that you wouldn't know it), check out Russia's most famous bard Vladimir Vysotsky. That link includes a brief history and many songs for listening, though in a strange interface. People still sing some of his songs around their dinner table, and most Russians get a wistful look in their eye when he's brought up. For a certain period, he was a nation's voice. In a lot of recordings, he seems to be very drunk and his guitar sounds out of tune.

Contemporary non-house music is tough to find, but there are a couple of goodies to be found. 5nizza is great, and might even be considered hip in US standards. The mp3 links on their site are broken, but can be found elsewhere. Listen to their "Soldat" (direct mp3) or browse their two albums Many Russian bands seem to give away their music online. Another favorite of mine, Zemfira, has their entire discography available for download on their site, including some their latin-influenced (at least that's what I think it is) songs such as "Kto?". Zemfira has a really nice voice, too.

Finally, one of the stranger popular bands is Glukoza, who seem to be anime-influenced. They seem to fancy themselves a computer-generated Gorillaz, though they aren't nearly as secretive. The lead singer is a bit of a sex symbol in Russia, or at least was when I was there a little more than a year ago. Zvuki.ru comes to the rescue again, and I recommend you listen to "Nevesta" (direct mp3). Her voice can be very annoying at first.

And for all you ska enthusiasts, there's Leningrad, who are somewhat known in US ska circles, I'm told. Their site also has mp3s of all of their previous albums. The chorus of one of their hits a couple years ago, in fact, was their web address: "veh veh veh Leningrad ess peh beh tochka roo" (direct mp3). Everyone where I was couldn't help but get it stuck in their head; one of the best ways to market a website I've ever experienced. Ingenious, really, since Google.ru and Yandex don't find the band easily.
posted by msbrauer at 6:39 AM on February 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

So some of the bands that will be mentioned in this thread most likely are big in Asia one way or another.

Which reminds me of another band - Alphaville (did a song big in Japan), where they at all big outside their home country?
posted by twistedonion at 6:42 AM on February 9, 2006

Oh, also along the veins of girl bands that are big in the UK and Ireland but not even heard of in North America: Girls Aloud. And there are about 10 boybands that are/were huge here that I had never heard of in North America, at least. Boyzone, Blue, and Westlife are just 3 of them off the top of my head.
posted by antifuse at 6:51 AM on February 9, 2006

I'm not Australian, so I can't speak to how big they are, but an Australian buddy of mine that I met in China went on and on about The Cat Empire. Pretty good stuff, too.
posted by geekyguy at 6:54 AM on February 9, 2006

This is a little bit off topic, but the XM/Worldspace radio station UPOP plays a lot of bands like this - things that are very popular in Europe and other areas of the world, but get no play in America. That's how I've heard of quite a few of the bands you guys have mentioned (Girls Aloud, etc.). And The Frames actually get lots of play on a different XM station (yes, I am obsessed with my radio). I would post a link directly to the UPOP home page, but my company doesn't let me through to the website (see someone else's question earlier about web filters at work...). You can probably search from the XM home page and see a playlist somewhere though.
posted by echo0720 at 7:07 AM on February 9, 2006

I'm not sure how big they are in New Zealand, but a favorite of mine is the Brunettes. In Russia, Leningrad was pretty big. Also Akvarium and Zemfira (from what I gather she's like the Russian Cher / Madonna).
posted by lorrer at 7:33 AM on February 9, 2006

Powderfinger are Australian. The song "My Kind of Scene" was on the Mission Impossible: 2 soundtrack.
posted by initapplette at 7:39 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: Lots of good stuff to check out here. I actually have heard of a number of these bands but didn't know where they were from. Great suggestions.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:54 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: Anyone know any big Nordic or Eastern European groups?
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:55 AM on February 9, 2006

Thought of a few more. Both Bic Runga (highly recommended) and Dave Dobbyn are very big in New Zealand.

And of course, let's not forget David Hasslehoff in Germany!
posted by gfrobe at 8:00 AM on February 9, 2006

For Nordic, try Sondre Lerche. Great songwriter and big in Norway.
posted by gfrobe at 8:05 AM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: Babasonicos are a big group in Argentina. Also Charly Garcia, Arbol, La Vaca Puerca, Attaque 77, jorge drexler (actually from Uruguay)
posted by BigBrownBear at 8:05 AM on February 9, 2006

Blue Rodeo, also from Canada.
posted by orange swan at 8:27 AM on February 9, 2006

Oh! Also Crash Test Dummies and Spirit of the West from Canada, who you don't hear too much about outside of Canada. But now we're stretching the definition of "huge" a little bit. :) See also: The Tea Party and Great Big Sea. These bands are bands that pretty much every single Canadian knows, but they wouldn't really be selling out 50,000 seat gigs.
posted by antifuse at 9:20 AM on February 9, 2006

Nordic -- what about Dungen from Sweden? Although I think he's pretty well known here in the US nowadays.
posted by echo0720 at 9:43 AM on February 9, 2006

Dungen's album 'Ta Det Lungt' got into many of the "best of 2005 lists" in the UK, but they're not exactly big here.
posted by patricio at 9:57 AM on February 9, 2006

Sloan and 54.40 are two other bands that are/were big in Canada without cracking the US. (Man, is this thread making me nostalgic for the mid-90s.)

Derail: Do other non-US countries have CanCon-style regulations like us insecure Canucks?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2006

Siddharta in Slovenia.
posted by Ljubljana at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2006

Glad to see the Hip getting mentioned, and The Tea Party.

If you are a Doors fan, you must get your hands on anything by The Tea Party.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:17 AM on February 9, 2006

I saw KT Tunstall (Top 20 UK) on Conan O'Brien the other night and then caught a clip from the Today show on the web. Really amazing. I had never seen anything quite like it before. My sister works for ABC and said people were tripping over each other to book her because she has just been flooring people with the performance. She keeps telling me Tunstall will be the next big thing or at least a high-flying flavor of the month.

After seeing the performance I agree.

It's kind of like Penn & Teller, she has all the tricks right out in the open but you are still curious. Very high neat-o factor.
posted by mortisimo at 11:53 AM on February 9, 2006

As far as Nordic bands go, check out Kaiser's Orchestra, D-A-D and Big Bang.
posted by borkingchikapa at 12:31 PM on February 9, 2006

This is nice coincidence - I thought this very idea would make a nice regular column in a magazine. My starting point came from New Zealand band Shihad.

They started their life of as a Metallica covers band and then went on to make themselves very popular as a hard rock band [debut album was produced by Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman who lived [still lives?] in New Zealand].

They tried to make it big in the United States and signed to a major around September 11, 2001. They were then informed that their band name sounded to much like Jihad and they would get not airplay. They ill-advisedly changed their name to Pacifier and success did not follow.

They have returned home, changed their name back to Shihad and sing anti-American songs [All the Young Fascists .mov].

They regularly play sell out tours around New Zealand [on May 1 last year they played a free and televised gig in Auckland's Aotea Square to 8,000 people].
posted by meech at 1:38 PM on February 9, 2006

Haha, I remember that horrible Cliff Richards mash-up of the Lord's Prayer and Auld Lang Syne. Funny thing is, the radio station I heard it played constantly for a while was Galgalatz, the IDF's music station.

Despite all the wonderful juxtapositions going on, it was still decided by all present to be bottom of the barrel.
posted by Gnatcho at 2:31 PM on February 9, 2006

Bijelo Dugme in the countries of the former Yugoslavia are still huge, although they've been broken up for years now- they did have a reunion concert last summer in Sarajevo, Zagreb, and Belgrade and tons of people attended. Goran Bregovic, their former guitarist and composer of most of the songs, does a lot of the scoring for the films of Emir Kusturica, although the band's music is mostly quite different. You can get free downloads of many of their songs at this site, if you scroll down to where it says Bijelo Dugme
posted by Oobidaius at 3:50 PM on February 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wow, the list has really grown! This thread is really fascinating... so many bands I've never heard of, and I'm in Japan, where, like divabat said, EVERYONE is big for some reason. Paul Weller (The Jam) was mentioned, and he's very popular here, as are the Sugarbabes and Belle & Sebastian... Japan is probably a bigger market in general than the US for UK music, like Jamiroquai and Blur (are/were they big in the States?).
One of the biggest hit singles last year by a foreign group here was DRAGOSTEA DIN TEI "Words of Love" by O-ZONE from Romania! BIG HIT as in even my 8 year old son can sing it. Weird. I can think of so many such examples... Scatman John, T.A.T.U, Me & My... sigh.
posted by misozaki at 4:15 PM on February 9, 2006

How's Jens Lekman (Sweden) doing Stateside these days, after being swooned over by the Pitchfork mafia? Oh, and I second the Belgian list wholeheartedly, as well as The Frames, although they're pretty well-known here in Holland as well among the *ahem* discerning crowd. I would go out of my way and suggest Spinvis (Netherlands), but he sings in Dutch. Another good contender could be Pete Philly & Perquisite, for sure.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:11 PM on February 9, 2006

How about Gyllene Tider in Sweden, who have been big there off and on for 25 years or so. Their reunion tour a few summers ago was huge. Lots of people have heard about Roxette (the lead singer's other band), but Per Gessle never made it big outside Sweden as a solo artist or with GT.

More Swedish music, including Darin and Kent, at P3Svea, the web radio station with "young, Swedish music". I'm addicted to it, you never know what you will get. Their most played artist is Robyn, whose song Handle Me has been on my brain lately. Previews of her recent album here.
posted by gemmy at 6:22 PM on February 9, 2006

Are Belle & Sebastian and British Sea Power well known outside Uk & Ireland

I am pretty sure that every hipster I know here, in the U.S., owns Belle & Sebastian CDs.

Also, Travis had a big hit in the U.S. like six years ago about being all weepy and lying when he was 17, I think. Stereophonics has somehow made it into my iTunes (possibly from my boyfriend), so I'd say they're known here, too.
posted by Airhen at 6:39 PM on February 9, 2006

twistedonion: I've heard the "Big In Japan" song here, but I suppose that was their only hit.

misozaki: The Numa Numa song! I was hearing it EVERYWHERE in Japan when I was there for 6 weeks and was wondering when did Internet phenomenons cross over to real life...
posted by divabat at 7:15 PM on February 9, 2006

The Hellacopters are pretty big in Sweden and, imho, should be huge in the states.

Check em out. Rock-n-Roll done up quite right. They are gonna be on the first US tour in 4 years in March.
posted by punkrockrat at 7:50 PM on February 9, 2006

Nobody has mentioned French music yet? Renaud has been around since the 70s; he's huge in France. I think Indochine is big as well. I've heard them referred to as the French version of The Cure.
posted by komilnefopa at 9:20 PM on February 9, 2006

Response by poster: yes. anyone know more french or italian music that's popular? I know there's a lot of good french rap but I think I'm a little out of date on who's popular (IAM, McSolaar are a little old now, i think).
posted by BigBrownBear at 1:04 AM on February 10, 2006

Geekyguy: I'd say The Cat Empire are (at least were) pretty popular here in Australia. Their first album got a lot of radio play and they seem to be touring a lot.
posted by d-no at 4:05 PM on February 10, 2006

I can't believe no one has mentioned any Brazilian bands yet!
Paralamas do Sucesso
Legião Urbana
Os Mutantes
Los Hermanos
Charlie Brown Jr.
... and that is just to name a few rock bands, if we were to start discussing MPB, pagode, samba, etc., this list would grow way too long.
posted by msali at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2006

This list is so weird, mostly because it seems like the type of list an American indie rock fan would come up with.
The Hip, Sloan, Barenaked Ladies, Crashtest Dummies, The Tea Party... All of them are known here. As are Os Mutantes, Hellacopters (who have a side project with Scott Morgan doing Northern Soul tracks that's pretty good, called The Solution), Jens Lekman, Stereophonics, Travis, Robyn (whose Konichiwa Bitches was a pretty big deal in pop circles here and in the UK), Annie (who wasn't mentioned but fits in with Robyn), Girls Aloud (Biology cracked playlists here), TATU, Texas, Sugarbabes, Boyzone, Westlife, Soulwax, Telephon, Hooverphonic, dEUS, K's Choice, The Frames, definitely Belle & Sebastian, British Sea Power and Stone Roses.
Those are all bands that I've heard on the radio or been sent promos of, but I guess it depends on your threshold for "known."
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2006

Response by poster: it is a bit of both. i think there are a number of bands from back home that i've never heard of, though it also makes sense that some of these bands would be somewhat known by more knowledgable music fans in US/England.

two more for brasil that i love are gilberto gil and jorge ben. i don't know their popularity, though.
posted by BigBrownBear at 1:19 AM on February 13, 2006

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