Musical Preference: US or UK?

This sounds like a dumb question. It isn't. A few month's ago, after a good night of drinking and "smoking," myself and a friend got into a debate about music. It really wasn't US is better then English music or any sort of that muck. But an exploration as to why non aggressive new music works in the UK and hasn't in the States.

At first he was offended, not because he's a Canadian but because he once was a musician. I suggested that the english scene still thrives with "pop" where US "pop" has diminished to N'sync and Jessica Simpson. In the UK you have so much avaliable that doesn't have an aggressive message. Take Massive Attack and RadioHead as an example. Even hip-hop from the likes of Tricky isn't that aggressive. The lyrics are softer, yet can be taken with the same amount of street cred.

In an earlier thread a person mentioned the Smith's. But you can take it even further...Billy Bragg, The Cure, Depeche Mode..good popish tunes yet not N'sync. Pop is all but dead musically in the states, yet it still thrives in the UK.

And while the UK scene still has aggressive bands like say, The Prodigy, Goldy, and a host of harder rock bands, they still have a nice mix of neutral-pop bands.

I think alot of what was done in the early 60'6 to late 70's was great on both sides but then the UK went one route while the States took another. Some of my favorite bands of all time hail from the US. Janes Addiction, Sublime, Rage Against the Machine. A harder edge. I think back to the 80's and I remember great bands like Gun's N Rose's, Metallica, Motely Crue...while the UK had a mix of that and the Smiths. Then fast forward to the 90's. We had a mix of gangster rap and harder sounding rock from the likes of Janes Addiction, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden...the entire Seattle thing actually.

While the UK went in a different direction again, with Brit-pop like Blur, Radiohead, and Elastica. While still spreading their wings with electronic music from The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Portishead, and The Prodigy.

It just seems to me that after the 70's the North American scene in general went in a single direction be it hip hop or rock. Aggressive. While the british still seem to pull it off without coming across as cheesy.

The only reason I wrote this entire thread was because I've had a few listening to The Allman Brothers Live at The Fillmore. And its become really clear that this was a different time when experimentation was open and applauded.
Your description of mainstream American music being aggresive is spot on in my opinion. Might it be reflective of an aggresive culture? The calming voices in American music are increasingly obscure.
I'm not sure of everyone's location but in my opinion, you may have a roseir view of UK music, because you are not subjected to a lot of the rubbish we get here, just as I'm sure the vice versa is also true.

Whilst it seems easier with cheap media to ladle the cheese onto a largley expentant population sadly, international distribution tends to sift the wheat from the chaff.

You did miss the British scene of the nineties which was Blur (fairly middle of road) - (Damon Albarn now leads the Gorillaz) vs Oasis (more agressive, but not much), known as battle of the bands which fought for supremecy in the non pop/RnB indy charts.

They largely saved there agression for slanging at each other in the media (deliberately of course).
Blur have been one of the more experimental bands to come out of the UK in a while not unlike Wilco in the way they've taken a core sound and took it strange places.

As for the above synopsis of the UK in the 90's I have to say there was a wee bit more happening than that.
I think the UK AND US mainstream music scenes are both pretty awful. The 60s and 70s produced a lot of fabulous music, and the 90s produced a moderate amount of good stuff on both sides of the atlantic (e.g. Paul Weller in the UK, Natalie Merchant in the US).

Where I think the US is better than the UK is that FM radio stations play a much broader range of music. I think that the commercials in between the music are almost unbearable in the US, but at least a range of music is there. UK FM radio is a complete loss for anything other than talk or classical.

On a recent visit to the UK (my home country, but I live now in Boston MA) I struggled to find ANY decent pop/rock FM radio stations. It seems you get teenage chart hits or dance on every station. I ended up listening to classic FM or Radio 4 during my road trips. Perhaps I'm getting old ?
It seems to me that one can do well in either place, but it is easier in the UK. I think the music scene is tied to the cultural forces at work. I agree with Rar1 about the economics. Further, I see economics tied to politics. The UK usually presents a more human scale, even huge London in comparison to Gotham. I have the sense that the UK is still a nation of shopkeepers and a people of puttering. Eccentrics are encouraged. The UK is more jealously guarding its democracy. Politics in every pub, and music too. We have consentrated our media here for politics, economics and music so that we are crushed by giants telling us what to like. That is why this forum holds our attention year after year. We who care here work harder at it. I am sure we would all rather spend half the time on-line and more in the listening room or singing and playing in our local joint and joints from SF to NYC. We all seem to muddle through.