Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music  book cover
1st Edition

Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music

ISBN 9781472428004
Published April 28, 2015 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

Existing books on the analysis of popular music focus on theory and methodology, and normally discuss parts of songs briefly as examples. The impression often given is that songs are being chosen simply to illuminate and exemplify a theoretical position. In this book the obverse is true: songs take centre stage and are given priority. The authors analyse and interpret them intensively from a variety of theoretical positions that illuminate the song. Thus, methods and theories have to prove their use value in the face of a heterogeneous, contemporary repertoire. The book brings together researchers from very different cultural backgrounds and encourages them to compare their different hearings and to discuss the ways in which they make sense of specific songs. All songs analysed are from the new millennium, most of them not older than three years. Because the most widely popular styles are too often ignored by academics, this book aims to shed light on how million sellers work musically. Therefore, it encompasses a broad palette, highlighting mainstream pop (Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Lucenzo, Amy McDonald), but also accounting for critically acclaimed ’indie’ styles (Fleet Foxes, Death Cab for Cutie, PJ Harvey), R&B (Destiny’s Child, Janelle Monae), popular hard rock (Kings of Leon, Rammstein), and current electronic music (Andrés, Björk). By concentrating on 13 well-known songs, this book offers some model analyses that can very easily be studied at home or used in seminars and classrooms for students of popular music at all academic levels.



Ralf von Appen holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Gießen, Germany, where he has been working as a teaching and research assistant since 2004. He has published widely about the history, psychology, aesthetics and analysis of popular music. André Doehring studied Musicology and Sociology and is working as a musicologist at the University of Gießen, Germany. His current research topics focus on jazz, electronic dance music, popular music journalism, analysis and the sociology of music. Dietrich Helms is Professor of Music History at the University of Osnabrück, Germany. He studied Musicology, English and Sociology at the University of Münster, Germany, and the Universities of East Anglia and Oxford, UK. He has published widely on music at the court of Henry VIII, popular music, music of early modern times and musical theatre for children. Allan Moore is Professor of Popular Music at the University of Surrey, UK. His chief research interests lie in the domain of the interaction of music and lyrics in recorded song in the service of potential readings. He is series editor of Ashgate’s ’Library of Essays in Popular Music’ and author to date of five monographs including Rock: the Primary Text and Song Means (both Ashgate).


’The last twenty years or so have seen a marked increase in academic writing about popular music by musicologists and music theorists. Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music brings together a talented group of scholars to make a significant and much anticipated contribution to this increasingly diverse field of analytical approaches and repertories. It will be required reading for anyone interested in hearing, and then re-hearing, recent popular music.’ John Covach, Institute for Popular Music, University of Rochester, USA ’At last, a new, quality collection of pop music essays that truly values analysis, close reading and listener interpretation. It's refreshing to see the wide range of genres covered as well - it makes for a great post-modern playlist.’ Justin A. Williams, University of Bristol, UK