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22nd Jun 2018

5 times British pop stars redefined the English language


Ciara Knight

“Balegdah” – Jesy Nelson. 

Pop stars have a seemingly wonderful life. Fame, fortune, verified ticks on Twitter, Nando’s black cards and a guaranteed lifelong pass to Jonathan Ross’ Halloween parties.

Not only do they provide us with the perfect music to accompany using a leaf blower, they also dip their toes into a spot of redefining the English language every now and then.

Without our precious pop stars, how would we ever have figured out the best way to demonstrate a Jamaican accent? Or an acceptable tone for wishing someone a pleasant holiday season?

We owe pop stars our goddamn lives. They relentlessly give and we continue to take. Their contribution to this world knows no bounds. Now they’re selflessly teaching us how to speak properly.

Behold, five times British pop stars redefined the English language.

1. Nadine Coyle taught us the correct way to say ‘flour’

Recently brought to the world’s worthy attention by Twitter user @calhmm, we’ve all seen Nadine Coyle’s earth-shattering take on the word ‘flour’. It’s bold, it’s innovative, it’s incredibly Derry but most of all, it’s Nadine™.

If we’re going phonetically, it’s ‘Fleyyyour’. Nadine shuns societal expectations of the correct way to pronounce ‘flour’. Perhaps this is due to her Derry accent, but more likely, Nadine is creating her own dialect. Is there anyone in a more suitable position than former Girls Aloud member Nadine Coyle to establish a brand new dialect? Frankly, no.

Her appearance on Saturday Kitchen took place in 2010. For context, Girls Aloud at the time were in limbo between their year-long hiatus and a promised upcoming studio album. The hiatus ended up lasting three years. Nadine might have suspected that that was going to happen at the time of the flour incident, so she put on a bit of a show by exaggerating her pronunciation. Sadly, it didn’t get picked up until mere days ago, meaning her effort to stay relevant was eight years in the making. Or, perhaps that is simply how she has always said ‘flour’, as wrong as it may be. This whole conspiracy is blown out of the water.

Either way, Nadine Coyle has changed things. We can never go back. Our lives are now separated into two parts. The time before we heard Nadine Coyle pronouncing ‘flour’, and the time after. Whether it was a publicity stunt or not, it has changed the English language forever. Children born today will only ever say ‘fleeeeyyyyyour’ and that’s just the way it has to be.


2. Rita Ora showed us how to say ‘Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’ the right way

Rita Ora, woman of the people, deserves the highest honour this country can bestow upon her – being instated as Her Royal Highness and Majesty The Queen, entirely as a result of this commitment to pronunciation. Rita, seen above, was a judge on The X Factor and spending quite a bit of time of Cheryl’s company. Naturally, being able to pronounce your colleague’s name is always a bonus in the workplace, so Rita got to work on letting the viewers know that she had accomplished that.

‘Cheryl Vrazazzimus Versini’, as Rita enlightens us, is the correct way to say Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. Arguably, ‘Fernandez’ isn’t even the most difficult part of Cheryl’s name, but Rita somehow made an absolute meal of it. Rochelle from The Saturdays is beside herself with joy. She’s deceased. She can no longer even. She is done. RIP Rochelle, for she has passed away. Rita Ora has floored her with accuracy and respect for Spanish culture.

The song ‘Fernando’ by ABBA is actually called ‘Vrazazzimo’ according to Rita Ora and it’s a true honour that we know this information now. Before Rita Ora schooled us all, we were making a hames of Cheryl’s name. Once Rita informed the masses, Cheryl then dropped her surname and that’s probably for the best. We weren’t ready for it. It’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than all of us.


3. JB from JLS taught us how to wish each other a pleasant holiday season

JLS, which stands for Jovial Lads Singing (probably), were performing on The X Factor. The week in question was Christmas themed, so every participant had to sing a festive song. JLS went for ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham! because it is an absolute fucking relentless banger. JB’s bandmate Aston took the lead, as so often he did, carrying the vocals and entire band on his tiny little shoulders because he was destined for greatness from the moment he entered this godforsaken world. Then JB had a chance to shine.

‘MeRrY cHrIsTmAs’ – JB Gill.

He fucks it. JB absolutely fucks it in front of a huge crowd both sitting right in front of him and watching at home. The entire fate of JLS’ X Factor journey was sealed in that moment. You simply can’t have a band member that trips at the embarrassingly easy hurdle of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in a normal way. Why did he adopt the voice of a cartoon sex pest? Where did it come from? Did JB produce that ear-piercingly nasal sound in rehearsals or save it for the live show? Did the rest of the band beat him to a pulp after the performance? Is that why JLS lost out on victory to Alexandra Burke? It’s logical to believe so.

Seasons greetings have never been the same since JB dropped the most fire ‘Merry Christmas’ of all time. The world is different now. Less cool. More nasal. More JB from JLS.


4. Jesy Nelson taught us how to do a Jamaican accent


Little Mix were taking part in a You Generation video which involved an incredibly quirky and inventive accent challenge. I’ve gone into excruciating detail about the whole debacle in the past, so I won’t labour the point here. The point is, Jesy was tasked with delivering a Jamaican accent and had free range over what she said. Jesy inevitably landed on ‘BALEGDAH’ and things were never the same again.

If you pulled someone aside on the street and said ‘Hey, excuse me, can you please do a Jamaican accent?’, one of two things would happen. The person would either tell you to get fucked, or say something from Cool Runnings. Those are the only two outcomes. Or at least they were until Jesy had a go.


It’s not a real word. It’s not said in a Jamaican accent. It’s not even delivered with a normal facial expression. That is what Jesy Nelson produced when she was asked to do a Jamaican accent and now, that is what the rest of us must replicate should we ever find ourselves in a similar situation. This is what the world requires of us all.


5. Sir Elton John showed us the correct way to say ‘Ed Sheeran’

It always seemed like ‘Sheeran’ was a universally pronounceable name, and then boom, out of nowhere, a wild Elton John joins the race. He was introducing Ed Sheeran at the Brit Awards earlier this year, but from the comfort of his home wearing a jazzy tracksuit accompanied and Deirdre Barlow’s outdoor glasses. The unsuspecting world wasn’t remotely ready for what followed.

Elton apologises for not being there in person, then says he couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk about one of his “dear friends”. So dear is this friend, he’s unable to pronounce his surname correctly, but perhaps theirs is a connection that runs deeper than such menial things. “From the very first time I heard Ed SHURRAN…” and with that, Ed Shurran was born, meaning Ed Sheeran was no more.

What’s Elton John’s favourite band? Shuran Shuran, obviously. But his favourite singer/songwriter? Why it’s Ed Shurran, of course. Anyone that’s been saying ‘Ed Sheer-in’ is plain wrong and frankly looks a little foolish now. Finally, Sir Elton John gave us some clarity on the situation. Thank you, Sir Elton.