This Is Pop

Overview

A range of genres, rooted in local impulses, reaching global audiences; a main prop of commercial culture and an art form open to aspirants and fans from every background: About the vast and diverse topic of pop, scholars and critics, journalists and musicians have much to say, but rarely to each other. A crossover venture begun at Seattle's Experience Music Project, this book captures the academic and the critical, the musical and the literary in an impromptu dialogue that ...

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Overview

A range of genres, rooted in local impulses, reaching global audiences; a main prop of commercial culture and an art form open to aspirants and fans from every background: About the vast and diverse topic of pop, scholars and critics, journalists and musicians have much to say, but rarely to each other. A crossover venture begun at Seattle's Experience Music Project, this book captures the academic and the critical, the musical and the literary in an impromptu dialogue that suggests the breadth and vitality of pop inquiry today.

This Is Pop illustrates what can happen when the best of scholarship, criticism, and pop's inherent unruliness intersect. Robert Christgau and Gary Giddins, pivotal critics, encounter Simon Frith and Robert Walser, pioneers in the study of popular music. Luc Sante and Geoffrey O'Brien write about sound with the same prose elegance they apply to noir or New York streetlife. Musicians Carrie Brownstein and Sarah Dougher, both active in the riot grrl and rock scenes of the Pacific Northwest, examine how audience responses affect their craft. John Darnielle, of the Mountain Goats and the idiosyncratic zine Last Plane to Jakarta, attends to the web postings of hair metal fans. From film tracks to Merle Travis, from Ray Davies to rock infighting, from indie poetry to the Carly Simon Principle of pop sincerity, this book reflects the welter of ambition, style, and meaning that draw us to pop in the first place. The result is a collection as cluttered with treasures as a good music store.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Just about anyone interested in understanding pop music will find something here.
— R. D. Cohen

Seattle Skanner

The contributors see through the mythologies that surround pop music without losing the longings that drew them to music in the first place. The result is a collection as cluttered with treasure as a good record store—a perfect introduction to the far-flung nature of music at the beginning of the 21st century.

Library Journal
What exactly is pop music anyway? We all kind of know it when we hear it, but its nature is fluid: hard to define and constantly changing. This book, which was born out of the inaugural April 2002 Pop Conference at Seattle's Experience Music Project, is a unique inquiry into the nature of the pop phenomenon. Twenty-five essays by a roster of some notable contributors, including academics, critics, and artists, are divided into three sections "Narratives," "Authorship," and "Values" and scrutinize pop in its various facets as niche, form, stance, and culture. Simon Frith examines the waning influence of British pop on American tastes. Robert Christgau considers the role of American pop within the global context. Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein writes about the role of live shows in determining a band's identity and communicating with its audience. The collection's idiosyncratic range of themes includes modern pop production techniques, why certain immensely popular groups are ignored today, unoriginality in pop song writing, and obsessive record collecting. Essays touch on pop in a variety of genres, including jazz, hip-hop, soul, and heavy metal. A very thoughtful compilation of writings, many of which will likely stand as important discussions of their subjects over time, this is recommended for all music and larger public libraries. David Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013445
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 0.82 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Weisbard is the Senior Program Manager in the Education Department of Experience Music Project in Seattle. He is the former music editor at Village Voice and was a senior editor at Spin.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Who'll Write the Book of Love? Pop Music and Pop Prose
Eric Weisbard

I. Narratives

1. "And I Guess It Doesn't Matter Any More": European Thoughts on American Music
Simon Frith

2. US and Them: Are American Pop (and Semi-Pop) Still Exceptional? And by the Way, Does That Make Them Better?
Robert Christgau

3. How Come Jazz Isn't Dead?
Gary Giddins

4. Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Prehistory of "Women in Rock"
Gayle Wald

5. The Birth of the Blues
Luc Sante

6. Richard Speaks! Chasing a Tune from the Chitlin Circuit to the Mormon Tabernacle
RJ Smith

7. Interrupted Symphony: A Recollection of Movie Music from Max Steiner to Marvin Gaye
Geoffrey O'Brien

8. Burnt Sugar: Post-Soul Satire and Rock Memory
Daphne A. Brooks

II. Authorship

9. Bits of Me Scattered Everywhere: Ray Davies and the Kinks
Robert Polito

10. Authenticity, Gender, and Personal Voice: She Sounds So Sad, Do You Think She Really Is?
Sarah Dougher

11. All the Memories Money Can Buy: Marketing Authenticity and Manufacturing Authorship
David Sanjek

12. Authorship Meets Downpression: Translating the Wailers into Rock
Jason Toynbee

13. Creativity and Band Dynamics
Deena Weinstein

14. "O Secret Stars Stay Secret": Rock and Roll in Contemporary Poetry
Stephen Burt

15. Compressing Pop: How Your Favorite Song Got Squished
Douglas Wolk

16. Rapping about Rapping: The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Tradition
Kelefa Sanneh

III. Values

17. Bread and Butter Songs: Unoriginality in Pop
Ann Powers

18. Good Pop, Bad Pop: Massiveness, Materiality, and the Top 40
Joshua Clover

19. The Carly Simon Principle: Sincerity and Pop Greatness
Chuck Klosterman

20. Groove as Niche: Earth, Wind & Fire
Robert Walser

21. Unpacking Our Hard Drives: Discophilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction
Julian Dibbell

22. Lost in Music: Obsessive Record Collecting
Simon Reynolds

23. Topless at the Arco Arena: Looking for the Line between Abandon and Irresponsibility During the Dot-com Explosion
Tim Quirk

24. More Rock, Less Talk: Live Music Turns Off the Voices in Our Heads
Carrie Brownstein

25. The Persistence of Hair
John Darnielle

Notes

Contributors

Acknowledgments

Index

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