Brave Combo
Rough Guide to Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar
Set
Ladysmith Black Mambazo

International » Worldbeat

The term worldbeat refers not to one specific style of music, but to a certain sensibility -- namely, the fusion of disparate musical styles in ways that are only possible from a globalized, multicultural perspective. The results can range from Westernized pop or dance music to wild, genre-hopping experimentalism, but the central, unifying feature of worldbeat is that it's a conscious attempt to bring world music to a wider audience. Frequently, this involves modernizing traditional sounds with up-to-date technology, or borrowing the most relevant elements from Western pop and rock, which have spread all over the world and affected other nations' pop-music scenes to varying degrees. At its best, worldbeat can produce utterly unique hybrids and amazing eclecticism; other times, worldbeat artists have been savaged for uprooting traditional styles and diluting them for mass consumption. Although the rock world was by no means closed to outside influence, the Western audience for world music really started to take shape in the mid-'80s, when rock artists like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Mickey Hart, and David Byrne began to incorporate ethnic sounds into their recordings, and enthusiastically pursued high-profile collaborations with world-music artists. With the commercial possibilities presented by a greatly expanded potential audience, some artists began to tailor their music for international appeal. Although there were many exceptions, the majority of the worldbeat artists who achieved a measure of popularity in the West came from Africa, a continent whose music -- to make a broad generalization -- had already exerted a tremendous influence on Western popular music throughout the 20th century. Thus, the sounds of artists like Mory Kante, Salif Keita, and Youssou N'Dour were familiar enough to be appealing, yet different enough to be striking and intriguing. Other worldbeat performers use their broad range of musical knowledge to find similarities and common ground among different indigenous traditions from around the world -- sort of the musical equivalent of comparative literature studies. Most Western-born worldbeat artists fall under this category, but a few -- like England's 3 Mustaphas 3 -- take a less academic approach, trumpeting their freewheeling eclecticism and accentuating the contrasts between the various styles of music they've assimilated. Worldbeat has never been a commercial blockbuster in the West, but some of the better-known styles include the popular music of West Africa and South Africa, North African rai, Bulgarian choral music, Scandinavian folk, Tuvan throat singing, various forms of Indian music (raga, dance, and film music), Pakistani qawwali, Spanish flamenco, Brazilian samba, and Argentinian tango, to name just a few that have made an impact among adventurous critics and record buyers.

Worldbeat Artists Highlights

Brave Combo
Brave Combo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Johnny Clegg
Johnny Clegg
Youssou N'Dour
Youssou N'Dour
Angélique Kidjo
Angélique Kidjo
Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares
Le Mystère des Voix ...

More Worldbeat Artists

Worldbeat Album Highlights

Rough Guide to Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar
Youssou N'Dour
Rough Guide to Youssou ...
Set
Youssou N'Dour
Set
Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings
Devotional Songs
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Devotional Songs
Negotiations and Love Songs 1971-1986
Paul Simon
Negotiations and Love ...
Graceland
Paul Simon
Graceland

More Worldbeat Albums

Worldbeat Song Highlights

Title/Composer Performer Stream
Lay Suma Lay Etoile de Dakar / Youssou N'Dour
Sabar Youssou N'Dour
Quiero Saber Gipsy Kings
The Boy In the Bubble Paul Simon
How Long? Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Batonga Angélique Kidjo
Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi King Sunny Ade
Independence Day David Byrne
Djobi Djoba Gipsy Kings
Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War Paul Simon

More Worldbeat Songs

Worldbeat styles