1st Edition

Settling the Pop Score Pop Texts and Identity Politics

By Stan Hawkins Copyright 2002

    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.

    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.


    Stan Hawkins

    ’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