Coldplay or Radiohead: Who’s Bigger in the U.S.?

  • Last week, BBCAMERICA.com launched our own music section, Tunes From the Thames, and we’ve included several top 10 lists featuring the best of British pop music. Do have a look around: you may find many openings for discussion and heated debate.

    The most potentially controversial list is the Top 10 Current British Artists in the U.S. After much hand-wringing, Coldplay and Radiohead were selected as our top two biggest UK artists. In that order. But that begs the question: should the imitator (Coldplay) really triumph over the originator (Radiohead)?

    An argument could be made for Radiohead as No. 1: their longevity, their continued critical success, their hugely popular U.S. tours, and their innovation both musically and economically. Who else could launch an album as a name-your-own-price download online – and still hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200 for their full-price, in-stores release?

    Coldplay, on the other hand, has built a career re-writing Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” as sappy indie ballads. Creatively, Coldplay completely fails to measure up to Radiohead. However, commercially, Chris Martin and the boys could be the most successful UK rock group since Duran Duran.

    So have at it: who’s the biggest British artist in America today? Coldplay? Radiohead? Leona Lewis? Winehouse?

    Kevin Wicks

    Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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