The use of irony in music is just beginning to be defined and critiqued, although it has been used, implied and decried by composers, performers, listeners and critics for centuries. Irony in popular music is especially worthy of study because it is pervasive, even fundamental to the music, the business of making music and the politics of messaging. Contributors to this collection address a variety of musical ironies found in the ’notes themselves,’ in the text or subtext, and through performance, reception and criticism. The chapters explore the linkages between irony and the comic, the tragic, the remembered, the forgotten, the co-opted, and the resistant. From the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, through America, Europe and Asia, this provocative range of ironies course through issues of race, religion, class, the political left and right, country, punk, hip hop, folk, rock, easy listening, opera and the technologies that make possible our pop music experience. This interdisciplinary volume creates new methodologies and applies existing theories of irony to musical works that have made a cultural or political impact through the use of this most multifaceted of devices.
"It is certainly required reading for any who are interested in the ways irony can be used and understood in popular music."
- Melvin Backstrom, Department of Music Research, McGill University
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.