Sacrebleu and crikey! America is insidiously turning into Europe. First came British lad mags Maxim and FHM, which boob-ified our men’s magazines, and then the co-opting of such transatlantic TV fare as the British Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (starring the British Reege, Chris Tarrant) and this summer’s Swedish Survivor and Dutch Big Brother (not to mention the already-thriving cable channel BBC America).
The invasion continued with the Swedish cheap-n-chic clothing store H&M, which stormed New York City this spring. Even our teeth are being Euro-sweetened: Swiss chocolate (and duty-free staple) Toblerone is making its first major push in the U.S. market with an Altoids-ish campaign winking at its worldy reputation (”Paris. Milan. St. Moritz. Weehawken.”).
And though the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, and Britney Spears may all seem born in the USA, most of their major hits were written and produced by Sweden’s Max Martin. And consider the recent radio-friendly likes of Italy’s Eiffel 65 (”Blue (Da Ba Dee)”) and U.K. dance diva Sonique (”It Feels So Good”). Says David Massey (who’s British, by the way), executive VP of A&R for Epic, which reps Oasis and Scotland’s Travis (another hot import), ”These Europop ditties are breaking through in America, to my amazement.”
What’s triggering this Euro invasion? Blame it on our youth. ”Travel is much more affordable,” says Barbara Coulon of the trendspotter, Youth Intelligence. ”Kids are jetting off to Paris for the weekend for $200 and bringing things back.”
If all this threatens your isolationist beliefs, take comfort in knowing that the Europeans themselves don’t anticipate a total pop-culture coup. Even though a Brit, Sam Mendes, won the Best Director Oscar, ”it was Steven Spielberg who gave him the break,” says British Esquire editor Peter Howarth. ”And it’s called AMERICAN Beauty, for God’s sake. So we’re busy saying, ‘Ah yes, the British are coming!’ But we’re not. So you’re safe.”