The Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor

1st Edition

Edited by Thomas M. Kitts, Nick Baxter-Moore


422 pages

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pub: 2019-05-08
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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 (DavidCaplan) / 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 Never Said I Was Tasteful": Lou Reed and the Classic Philosophy of Humor (Steven L. Hamelman) / 21. Randy Newman’s Satirical Vision and the Myth of America (Theodore Louis Trost) / 22. "You Ain’t Laughing, Are You?" Humor, Misery, and the Replacements (Timothy Gray) / Part 5: Selected Artists II: Popular Music and Comedy / 23. The Coasters: Funny and Not So Funny (Lawrence Pitilli) / 24. Lonnie Donegan: From Trad Jazz to King of Skiffle and Variety Star (Mats Greiff) / 25. Mountain Butterfly: Dolly Parton’s Transformational Persona in American Country Music (Pamela Wilson) / 26. The Wacky and Zany World of Flo & Eddie (Thomas M. Kitts) / 27. "Dare to Be Stupid": Covering "Weird Al" Yankovic (Michael Mooradian Lupro) / 28. The Aquabats! Defeating Evil One Show at a Time!(Eric J. Abbey) / Part 6: The Music Mockumentary / 29. "It’s Such a Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever": A Genealogy of the Music Mockumentary (Michael Brendan Baker and Peter Lester) / 30. "We Must Be Flipping Out": Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels as a Carnivalesque Subversion of Pop Music (Scott Henderson) / 31. All You Need Is Cash: Skewering a Legend with the Prefab Four (Kenneth Womack) / 32. This Chapter Goes to Eleven: This Is Spinal Tap and the Blurring of Authenticity and Fabrication (Colin Helb) / Part 7: Popular Music and Humor on Screen / 33. "Goodnight to the Rock ’n’ Roll Era": Pavement and the Negotiation of Ambivalence in 1994 (Court Carney) / 34. Looking for the Joke with a Microscope: The Intersections of Music and Humor in Repo Man (David A. Ensminger) / 35. Humor in the "Booty Video": Female Artists Talk Back Through the Hip-Hop Intertext (Lori Burns & Alyssa Woods) / 36. Of Shreds, Spoofs, and Participatory Cultures: Parodies of Popular Music Videos in Web 2.0 Contexts (Martin Butler) / Part 8: Gender, Sexuality, and Politics / 37. Ethnic Parody in the Age of Fracture (John Thomerson) / 38. "Don’t I Look Like a Halle Berry Poster?": Humor and Irony in Women’s Hip Hop (Gail Hilson Woldu) / 39. We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are: Masculine Humor in New Zealand Popular Music (Nick Braae) / 40.From "Tsar Nikolai, Go F*ck Your Mother!" to "Putin, Go F*ck Yourself!": Musical Humor in Oppressive Regimes (Adriana Helbig) / 41. After the Laughter: Al-Manawahly’s Songs and the Poetics of Subversive Humor in Egypt (Noha Radwan) / 42. "(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding": Humor in Protest Music (Nick Baxter-Moore) / Coda: Unintentional Humor in Popular Music (Nick Baxter-Moore & Thomas M. Kitts) / Notes on Contributors / Index

About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Routledge Music Companions

Routledge Music Companions offer thorough, high-quality surveys and assessments of major topics in the study of music. All entries in each companion are specially commissioned and written by leading scholars in the field. Clear, accessible, and cutting-edge, these companions are the ideal resource for advanced undergraduates, postgraduate students, and researchers alike.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / History & Criticism