10 Bands, Known In Many Countries But Failed To Make It In America

There are many bands who failed to make it in America. Some of them though I believe really should, when others it's better than they remained unknown, and even better they remained unknown globally.

Well, to be more to the point, most of those bands were known during their time, but yet pretty unknown to younger generations.

Those bands I'll mention had several Top 20 Singles or/and Albums in many countries, yet they never made it in Top 20 in American Charts.

(In alphabetical order)

1) Beatmasters (Neither any Albums nor any Singles, made it in American charts)

Although Techno Music was never popular in US (except several teritorries, like Michigan), many Techno bands have made it in US Dance charts. Beatmasters didn't, although they had a bunch of Top 20 hits during late 80s-early 90s in various countries. They did many remixes for many artists as well, for example Depeche Mode's Behind The Wheel.

2) The Boomtown Rats (Highest Charting Positions in America: Album: The Fine Art Of Surfacing #103 (1979), Single: I Dont Like Mondays #73 (1979)

A Punk/New Wave band mostly famous in UK and Ireland, and in Canada and Australia by some degree. Yet they were never popular in America as a band, although their lead singer (Bob Geldof) is globally known as one of the two organizers of Live Aid .

3) The Christians (Highest Charting Positions in America: (Single: When The Fingers Point #29 (US Dance) (1987), No Albums made it in American charts)

Another one of the late 80s British Pop/Soul bands, but yet a good one. Although they had many hits in Europe, I believe they "had it" to make it in America as well, and I believe lead singer's voice (Garry Christian) sounds pretty Americanized. Since George Michael did it, why not them as well? Guess lack of promotion.

4) Cock Robin (Highest Charting Positions in America: (Single: When Your Heart Is Weak #28 (US Mainstream Rock) (1985), No Albums made it in American charts.)

Ironically, Cock Robin were Americans themselves. It's not uncommon for a non-American band to not make it in America, yet it's pretty uncommon for an American band to lack success in America, yet be successful in Europe. Cock Robin scored several Top 20 hits in many European countries (except UK, where they had only 1 hit there as well, particularly The Promise You Made), but they had only one minor hit in America. The one I mention above, which made it in #35 in Hot 100 charts as well.

5) Fischer-Z (Neither any Albums nor any Singles, made it in American charts.)

Although they weren't so much popular in their homeland UK, they were pretty popular in mainland Europe during early 80s, in countries like Germany, Netherlands or Portugal. Their sound was pretty similar to the sound of The Police, although they were way less successful than the latter. A very underrated band.

6) Secret Service (Neither any Albums nor any Singles, made it in American charts.)

A Swedish Pop/New Wave band, with a few Top 10 hits in Mainland Europe, during late 70s and early 80s. Well it's not a surprise since many bands from Mainland Europe, fail to chart even in UK. It would be even harder for them to make it in America. Yet those guys I believe they deserved more chances unlike the highly overrated Abba for example.

7) The Stranglers (Highest Charting Positions in America: Album: Dreamtime #172 (1982), No Singles made it in American charts.)

Perhaps, the most notorious example here. Pretty successful in UK and all around Europe, and definitely one of the most influential bands ever, but still unknown in America, despite all their efforts to make their sound more Americanized since Aural Sculpture. Anyway, all their albums with their first Lead Singer (Hugh Cornwell) are definitely masterpieces. A great diversity of styles.

8. Pulp (Highest Charting Positions in America: Album: This Is Hardcore #114 (1998) , No Singles made it in American charts.)

Although Britpop genre was a really lousy genre in my opinion, Pulp were better than others. They took thigns to another level instead singing guitar-based cheesy songs. They started also way before than most Britpop bands of that era, releasing 2 albums (yet without any success) in the 80s. Unfortunately they didn't make it in America, unlike overrated Britpop bands Blur and Oasis.

9) Ultravox (Highest Charting Positions in America: Album: Quartet #61 (1982), Single: Reap The Wild Wind #71 (1982)

Ultravox were very similar with another Synth-pop band from that era, particularly Wang Chung. Wang Chung went to be pretty successful in America, with 3 Top 10 hits (they lacked success in their homeland though), but Ultravox hardly made it in American Top 100. And by the way, Ultravox's lead singer (Midge Ure) was the second organizer of Live Aid concert, I mentioned in #2.

10) Visage (Highest Charting Positions in America: Album: Visage #178 (1980), No Singles made it in American charts.)

It's quite surprising to see, that Visage weren't even an one-hit wonder in America. Their song Fade To Grey was extremely popular all across Europe, making it into the Top 10 in many countries. Apart from this hit they had some other Top 20 hits in UK, but in other countries they're mostly known for their song Fade To Grey.


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  • Wang Chung (I think that's their name?) never went too far either.

    • Yes. Well Wang Chung scored several Top 10 Hits in US (Dance Hall Days, Everybody Have Fun Tonight and Let's Go), so they were fairly popular by then. Not as big as Duran Duran though.

  • Another one that never was big. in America or outside Europe for that matter is Boney M. Apparently they were a hit in Europe especially West Germany, but never could live up to hype in America. I think they did have one hit in America but that was all

    • Oh yeah correct. Although I wasn't much into their music, they were popular all across Europe. But it's strange they are Germans since all band members were pretty dark-skinned.

    • Show All
    • The artist of 'Daddy cool'?

    • @YourFutureEx Not an artist, but a band. But yes.

  • A real trip down memory lane - I knew most of them
    (2) Hometown band but still The Boomtown Rats were a good outfit.
    (3) I thought The Christians were excellent
    (4) Have a vague recollection of the Cock Robin sound nothing concrete (Could Cock be cause of your SB topic - I once wrote a question about being horny for something non sexual and it kept being put in SB topic)
    (7) Stranglers - Really liked their sound
    (8) Pulp - I never really took to them that said I don't dislike them
    (9) Ultravox - I liked their sound
    (10) Visage - I know the song
    As for the wider question, I think the music scene is just so crowded a lot of it is luck whether you get noticed in the US or not , where your songs are played and if you get wider attention thus the modern awful phenomena of PR/Spin, who is dating who, who has a sex tape etc. There are probably lots of good artists/bands who never make it beyond the pub circuit because of sheer luck.

    • - Yeah Boomtown Rats were a really good band, but unfortunately they were mostly known for "I Don't Like Mondays" only. Not their best song in my opinion, since they had some other good stuff. My favorite album by them was V Deep. It was their least mainstream album perhaps.
      - Perhaps better than other pretentious Pop/Soul groups of late 80s, when it was a trend.
      - Yeah I assumed it was because of Cock as well.
      - Stranglers had a great diversity of styles. Also they took Punk to another level, by adding keyboards in their recordings. Down In The Sewer and School Mam are perhaps the best songs of Punk era. Anyway I liked all albums with Hugh Cornwell, even the highly underrated "10".
      - Ultravox had some good Experimental albums with John Foxx (the original vocalist) in late 70s. Overlooked unfortunately.
      - Well I think there are many factors. Before internet-days, I assume they arranged US Tours to promote their albums or made videos for MTV.

  • Damn shame about pulp, unlike you I really like the genre and they were amazing I thought at least "common people" would've made it that's a pretty mainstream song and is very well known in UK at least. Also oasis definitely not overrated.

    • Generally I'm not into Britpop, but Pulp were good. Also Lightning Seeds were good too. But never been into Blur or Oasis.

      Well yeah, Common People was not only known in UK but all around Europe. I think it's unknown in America though.

    • Never liked blur myself but "supersonic", "wonderwall", "supersonic" are just amazing and "live forever" and "don't look back in anger" are two of my favourite songs.

    • There was another good Britpop band, but they had only 2 hits in late 90s. This band was called Rialto, and they had 2 hits back then, particularly Monday Morning 5:19 and Untouchable. They were pretty similar to Pulp.