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, BjÃ¶rk). 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.
"This book could be an important first step in shifting the field from entrenched habits of sole-authorship to the incorporation of many different kinds of collaboration, including smaller groups, junior-senior scholar pairings, or single-author analyses with responses and revisions published together. This book reminds us that there is no one way to "do" popular music analysis and is an opportunity to think even more creatively about what effective and fulfilling research can look like."
- Alexa Woloshyn, Carnegie Mellon University
"Taken as a whole, this essay collection not only makes a convincing case for the relevance of musicological analysis in the study of popular music, but also provides us with an impressive demonstration of the myriad ways by which it can be done."
- Nadav Appel, Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Open University of Israel, Israel
"I know of no other instance in popular-music analysis in which multiple authors reconcile their views within the bounds of a single essay, and so this effort should be applauded for its original approach."
- Trevor de Clercq, Middle Tennessee State University
"This book offers an engaging read and presents multiple approaches to musical analysis, which is to be expected given the diversity of its contributors."
- Donna Weston, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
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.