Settling the Pop Score: Pop Texts and Identity Politics, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Settling the Pop Score

Pop Texts and Identity Politics, 1st Edition

By Stan Hawkins


240 pages

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Hardback: 9780754603511
pub: 2002-02-13
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pub: 2017-07-05
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The analysis of popular music forces us to rethink the assumptions that underpin our approaches to the study of Western music. Not least, it brings to the fore an idea that many musicologists still find uncomfortable - that commercial production and consumption can be aligned with artistic authenticity. Reading pop texts takes place through dialogue on many levels, which, as Stan Hawkins argues, deals with how musical events are shaped by personal alliances between the artist and the recipient. The need for a critical approach to evaluating popular music lies at the heart of this book. Hawkins explores the relationships that exist between music, spectatorship and aesthetics through a series of case studies of pop artists from the 1980s and 1990s. Madonna, Morrissey, Annie Lennox, the Pet Shop Boys and Prince represent the diversity of cultures, identities and sexualities that characterised the start of the MTV boom. Through the interpretation of aspects of the compositional design and musical structures of songs by these pop artists, Hawkins suggests ways in which stylistic and technical elements of the music relate to identity formation and its political motivations. Settling the Pop Score examines the role of irony and empathy, the question of gender, race and sexuality, and the relevance of textual analysis to the study of popular music. Interpreting pop music within the framework of musicology, Hawkins helps us to understand the pleasure so many people derive from these songs.


’The range of case studies provided by Hawkins offers a very real opportunity to engage with the complex array of debates surrounding identity and representation.’ Dr Sheila Whiteley, University of Salford, UK 'Settling the Pop Score should prove a useful tool for the further study of musicians like Morrissey, Annie Lennox and the Pet Shop Boys. For those whose cultural memory does not reach back to the mid-1980s, this is a good introduction to questions of identity raised in videos by Madonna and Prince, whose sexual masquerades continue both to provoke and to proclaim.' Popular Music '… the book offers a set of interpretive approaches to popular music and is a welcome addition to current scholarship on the subject.' Notes '… the author's emphasis on interpreting particular pop musicians and their 'identities' is a valuable and engaging exercise.' Context

Table of Contents

Contents: General editor's preface; Settling the pop score…: Introduction; Grounding aesthetic and ideological values; Musical codes and compositional design; Identity politics; Modelling identity; Interpreting ironic intent; Further discursions into the pop text; Towards a critical musicology of the popular; Mobilising the pop score; ’I’ll never be an angel’: stories of deception in Madonna’s music: Introduction; Reading musical codes in Madonna’s performance; Hearing, seeing, feeling gender; Spectatorship and seduction; Production and (post)modernist ’Survival’; Final concluding thoughts; Anti-rebel, lonesome boy: Morrissey in crisis?: Introduction; With a thorn in his side; Constructs of male identity in Morrissey; Characterisation and ’star’ depiction; Modelling empathy through vocal ’sound’; Interpreting ironic markers in pop texts; Conclusion; Annie Lennox’s ’Money Can’t Buy It’ - masquerading identity: Introduction; Opting for gender disguise; Questions of musical coding; Visualising sound through videography; Being totally Diva; Conclusion; ’Call it performance, honey’: The Pet Shop Boys: Introduction; Masculinity in the 1980s; Being boring and clever: style as rhetoric; Banality: political discourses of pleasure and power; Musical (dis)pleasures; ’Disco-Tex and the Sexelettes’: satirical musical address; Towards a PSB discourse; Conclusion; Subversive musical pleasures in ’The Artist (Again) Known as Prince’: Introduction; Dialectics of music and imagination; Identity as racial commodity; Stylistic and technical codes in Diamonds and Pearls; Sexing and ’spinning’ gender in musical expression; Carnivalesque musical display: signs of the times?; Conclusion; Bibliography; Discography; Index.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General