Queerness in Pop Music
Aesthetics, Gender Norms, and Temporality
This book investigates the phenomenon of queering in popular music and video, interpreting the music of numerous pop artists, styles, and idioms. The focus falls on artists, such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Boy George, Diana Ross, Rufus Wainwright, David Bowie, Azealia Banks, Zebra Katz, Freddie Mercury, the Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, and many others. Hawkins builds his concept of queerness upon existing theories of opacity and temporality, which involves a creative interdisciplinary approach to musical interpretation. He advocates a model of analysis that involves both temporal-specific listening and biographic-oriented viewing. Music analysis is woven into this, illuminating aspects of parody, nostalgia, camp, naivety, masquerade, irony, and mimesis in pop music. One of the principal aims is to uncover the subversive strategies of pop artists through a wide range of audiovisual texts that situate the debates on gender and sexuality within an aesthetic context that is highly stylized and ritualized. Queerness in Pop Music also addresses the playfulness of much pop music, offering insights into how discourses of resistance are mediated through pleasure. Given that pop artists, songwriters, producers, directors, choreographers, and engineers all contribute to the final composite of the pop recording, it is argued that the staging of any pop act is a collective project. The implications of this are addressed through structures of gender, ethnicity, nationality, class, and sexuality. Ultimately, Hawkins contends that queerness is a performative force that connotes futurity and utopian promise.
Table of Contents
1. Setting the Stage: aesthetics, gender norms and temporality 2. Love – a very queer construct 3. ‘In and Out’: Games of Truth and the Confessional 4. Applause, Applause: Art into Pop 5. ‘Talking blah blah’: Camp into Queer 6. To be a boy? Masculinity and queer aesthetics 7. Futurity and Passion’s Compulsion
Stan Hawkins is Professor of Musicology at the University of Oslo and Adjunct Professor at the University of Agder. His research fields involve music analysis, popular musicology, gender studies and audiovisual theory. From 2010-2014 he led a Norwegian state-funded project, Popular Music and Gender in a Transcultural Context. He is also author of Settling the Pop Score (2002), The British Pop Dandy (2009), and co-author of Prince: The Making of a Pop Music Phenomenon (2011). His edited volumes include Music, Space & Place (2004), Essays on Sound & Vision (2007), Pop Music & Easy Listening (2011), and Critical Musicological Reflections (2012).
'Queerness in Pop Music is a valuable and timely addition to the field of popular music studies with the author genuinely revelling in the process of exploring the texture of musical texts which toy with (hetero)normative assumptions on gender and sexuality. His ability to get to the heart of what’s going on, be it historically, culturally and/or musically in a visual/sonic text is admirable.'
Transposition. Musique et sciences sociales