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What is "World Beat'?


Question: What is "World Beat'?
I keep hearing about a genre of music called "World Beat", is that different than World Music? How?
Answer: "World Beat" is a cutesy little term coined by record labels and music stores sometime in the mid-'80s to describe world music. It pretty quickly evolved into a phrase that describes those indescribable genres of world music that won't fit comfortably into any other boxes.

"World Beat" is almost more difficult to define than "World Music", and is perhaps best described in examples. When Paul Simon recorded with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, that was World Beat. When Manu Chao (born in Spain, raised in France) sings songs in 7 languages, tossing in everything from to punk-rock to reggae to salsa to Paris cafe music, that is World Beat. When Cajun band Beausoleil heavily infiltrate their music with Calypso beats and Caribbean instruments, that is World Beat.

Basically, World Beat is just a catch-all term (much as "World Music" is), and although many purists turn their noses up at it, it still gets used an awful lot, particularly in music bins in record stores. Therefore, it's best to have a general idea of what it means.
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