British pop bubble bursts – but Robbie Williams still flies the flag

When John Lennon declared that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, his boast did not seem far-fetched. It was 1966: rock’n’roll was the new religion, and it was sweeping the globe. Commentators railed against the threat that popular music posed to the moral fabric of society, while some suggested it would devour every culture in its path.But research by two leading economists now suggests fears that British and American music would end up conquering the world were largely overblown. Indeed Britain, though still a pop music success story, no longer penetrates the global charts as it did in Lennon’s heyday and again in the mid-80s when Duran Duran, Wham! and Culture Club were making records.

More surprisingly, however, the authors found that interest in domestically-produced music has risen steadily throughout the world over the past 15 years, possibly due to the appearance of locally-tailored MTV channels, the growth of the internet, and domestic airplay quotas like those governing French radio.

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