The British not only corner the market on some fine music makers, but they have sharp reporting.
Today the Guardian posted an article titled "Brits keep out, unless you're old and boring" that exposes US Immigration department's efforts to keep out all the great UK bands with scheduled tours (Lily Allen!) while allowing the Police and (Sir) Elton John to traipse all over our fair land.
It nearly reads like an Onion article… but it's all true.
As reported yesterday a new threat to hinder the current British music invasion are the ever-tightening US immigration and work visa laws. Lily Allen this week had her visa revoked and missed a potentially career-making MTV Awards appearance, while 12 months ago Klaxons cancelled their crucial CMJ performances because the press clippings they submitted suggested they hadn't been going very long. Which, of course, they hadn't. But then this is pop music – no one goes for very long. And if longevity is the criteria by which incoming touring artists are judged, then the US can have nothing but the boring white rock of Elton John and The Police tours to look forward to for the next – ooh – decade, when they could have the pan-international flavours of MIA. It's not just the hip young guns suffering either – Holly Golightly, New Model Army and Mystery Jets are some of the artists whose tours have been nixed by the authorities.
It's a Catch-22 situation. To guarantee an easy passage stateside artists have to fill a P-1 visa, requiring acts to prove that they have been "internationally recognized" for a "sustained and substantial" amount of time. But can someone really be internationally recognized if they have never performed in the US?
Such red tape is standard practice for a country run by lawyers, but it will surely have a detrimental effect. America will be deprived of new foreign culture from abroad, an existing suspicion that the US government are not very nice will fester even further and everyone from venues to concert promoters to merchandise vendors – people who thrive on live shows rather than record sales – will lose out if tours are cancelled at the last minute.
It's no conspiracy to say that this is all a by-product of the paranoia, fear of outsiders and strict border control that has been present since the white man first took over the country, and which has permeated deeper since September 2001. Any non-famous person who has attempted to enter the US either for a short stay or under the guise of work will likely have similar stories.
As it stands, anglophile US music fans are facing government-endorsed rock 'n' roll.
On the upside, though, they may be spared Razorlight.