An essential part of human expression, humor plays a role in all forms of art, and humorous and comedic aspects have always been part of popular music. For the first time, The Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor draws together scholarship exploring how the element of humor interacts with the artistic and social aspects of the musical experience. Discussing humor in popular music across eras from Tin Pan Alley to the present, and examining the role of humor in different musical genres, case studies of artists, and media forms, this volume is a groundbreaking collection that provides a go-to reference for scholars in music, popular culture, and media studies.
While most scholars, when considering humor’s place in popular music, tend to focus on more "literate" forms, the contributors in this collection seek to fill in the gaps by surveying all kinds of humor, critical theories, and popular musics. Across eight parts, the essays in this collection explore topics both highbrow and low, including:
- Parody and satire
- Humor in rock and global music
- Gender, sexuality, and politics
- The music mockumentary
- Novelty songs
Humor has long been a fixture of the popular music soundscape, whether on stage, in performance, on record, or on film. The Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor covers it all, presenting itself as the most comprehensive treatment of the topic to date.
Table of Contents
Popular Music and Humor: An Introduction (Thomas M. Kitts & Nick Baxter-Moore) / Part 1: Historical Antecedents / 1. Humor in Early Twentieth-Century Sheet Music: Problems of Contexts and Receptions (C. Matthew Balensuela) / 2. What Might Have Been Left Behind: Popular African-American Female Singers in an Age of Liberal Reform (James Martens) / 3. Jazz Humor from a Musical Perspective (Garth Alper) / 4. Rubes, Rednecks, and Novelty Songs: The Comedic Tradition in Country Music (Don Cusic) / Part 2: Humor in Rock Music Genres / 5. Grumbly Grimblies, Frozen Dogs, and Other Boojums: Eccentricity from Chaucer to Carroll in English Psychedelia (Peter Grant) / 6. The Clown Figure in 1970s Rock Music (Andy Bennett) / 7. Humor in Metal Music (Deena Weinstein) / 8. "Anarchy in Woolworths": Punk Comedy and Humor (Russ Bestley) / 9. "Mommy’s Dead": The Gallows Humor of Hardcore Punk (Dennis D. McDaniel) / 10. Hip Hop’s Sophisticated Comedy (David Caplan) / 11. "The Earth Is Doomed": Geek Rock, Humor, and the End of the World (Victoria Willis) / Part 3: Humor in Global Music / 12. From Kaiso to Get on Bad: Humor in Trinidad’s Calypso and Soca Music (Amelia Ingram) / 13. "Call de Contracta!" Humor, Innovation, and Competition in Jamaican Music (Sonjah Stanley Niaah) / 14. Play and Irony in the Kwaito Music of Postapartheid South Africa (Tuulikki Pietilä) / 15. Humor in Ugandan Popular Music (David Pier) / 16. Absurdity and Nostalgia: Humor in K-Pop (Sarah Keith) / 17. Negotiating Blackness in French Rural Spaces: Kamini’s Hip-Hop Comedy (Mich Yonah Nyawalo) / Part 4: Selected Artists I: Humor in Popular Music / 18. The "Sly Wit" of Chuck Berry (Wayne Robins) / 19. The British Invasion of the Wild West: Country Parody in the Rolling Stones and Other British Bands (Oliver Lovesey) / 20. "I N
Thomas M. Kitts is Professor of English at St. John's University, NY, USA, author of a recent book on John Fogerty, and coeditor of Popular Music and Society and Rock Music Studies.
Nick Baxter-Moore is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, Brock University, St Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada.
Overall, The Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor is a refreshing assessment of the integration of humor within music and how this speaks of society on various levels. The text is creative and presents a commonly nonspecialist topic in a highly scholarly format. Summing Up: Recommended.
—A. E. Handfield, Manhattan College, CHOICE