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In her re-authoring of Otis Redding's ‘Respect’, Aretha Franklin's seminal 1967 recording features striking changes to melodic content, vocal delivery, lyrics and form. Musical analysis and transcription reveal Franklin's re-authoring techniques, which relate to rhetorical strategies of motivated rewriting, talking texts and call-and-response introduced by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The extent of her re-authoring grants her status as owner of the song and results in a new sonic experience that can be clearly related to the cultural work the song has performed over the past 45 years. Multiple social movements claimed Franklin's ‘Respect’ as their anthem, and her version more generally functioned as a song of empowerment for those who have been marginalised, resulting in the song's complex relationship with feminism. Franklin's ‘Respect’ speaks dialogically with Redding's version as an answer song that gives agency to a female perspective speaking within the language of soul music, which appealed to many audiences.
Mainstream hip hop videos have long been known for their images of scantily clad women, extreme materialism, and misogynist and homophobic lyrics. In this article I focus on how rapper 50 Cent's masculinity is constructed and expressed through music, lyrics and images in his video ‘Candy Shop’ from 2005. This is a classically modelled hip hop video, replete with markers of hypermasculinity: fancy cars, ‘bling’, and lots of beautiful, sexually available women. Several scholars have discussed how women are exploited in videos like this and reduced to props for the male star. However, few have explored how this macho masculinity is constructed. Through a close reading of this video, using socio-musicology and audiovisual analysis as my approach, I propose that the macho masculinity presented here is threatened when the male body is on display, but 50 Cent reassures himself (and his audience) through selective framing, involving both other performers and the music.
‘Emo’, an abbreviation of the word ‘emotional’, is a term both used to describe music which places public emphasis on introspective displays of emotion and a pejorative phrase applied to fans of a diverse range of music. It is overwhelmingly male-dominated in terms of production and it has been suggested that the development of emo can be explained with reference to a ‘crisis in masculinity’. This implies that explicit, male emotional expression is historically incompatible with the performance of Western ‘masculinity’. This article first briefly explores how emo emerged and how it has been linked to the idea of a crisis. It then moves on to conduct a lyrical, discursive analysis around three themes: emotional expression and relationships; overt chauvinism; and ‘beta male misogyny’. Through these concepts I suggest that, rather than indicating a crisis or ‘softening’ of masculinity, there are actually a number of historical continuities with masculinities as a means of sustaining gendered inequalities.
This article focuses on the Soviet/post-Soviet singer Zhanna Aguzarova, as both frontwoman for the seminal Russian rock ‘n’ roll band Bravo and as a solo artist. Contextualising her musical output within the singer's frequent allusions to and performances of extraterrestrialism, and drawing upon works of Kristeva and Vygotskii, I contend that Aguzarova's voice and frequent use of vocables contributed to a creation of a performative space ‘outside’ of and in contradistinction to the linguistically over-determined ‘official’ Soviet space. In conclusion, however, I problematise the creation of a simple binary, showing how Aguzarova's musical Russianness, as well as her emigration from and return to Russia, constitute a type of ‘rooted Otherness’.
In addition to a hierarchy of harmony and fundamental pitch, large-scale modal or tonal music generally needs to generate considerable portions of its substance from a limited number of melodic ideas in order to be readily comprehended as musical form. In Western musical tradition this has typically been achieved by means of motivic development. A distinctive trait in the mainstream of popular music in the 1960s and 1970s, on the other hand, is the predominance of clearly demarcated phrase-bound structures, where either no smaller unit than the phrase could be perceived, or where the smaller units (as in the case of riffs and ostinato figures) have functions that are subservient or complementary to the phrase-structure. Some genuine exceptions from this otherwise highly dominant tendency can be identified in the music from the so-called progressive rock movement in the early 1970s. This article investigates the case of the British group Gentle Giant (active 1970–1980). A motivic analysis of three songs from the album Acquiring the Taste (1971) elucidates how a small set of motives could be used in concatenations to unify larger and more dynamic song structures than what is possible in non-reducible phrase-bound forms.
The hi-hat is an instrument within the kit that is often the driving force of numerous grooves, and how the playing of this instrument developed across the period 1960–1974 in Anglo-American popular musics is a useful guide when considering how the drum kit has in turn defined certain genres and styles. This paper will study a selection of grooves that use the hi-hat as a discriminating factor which will help trace the origin of certain basics within straight rhythms. The first iterations of these grooves are traced and analysed to uncover the origin of particular patterns that have since become accepted and well used within popular musics. This date period is a particularly rich seam of popular music history in this respect, beginning with the earliest recorded examples of particular hi-hat techniques and leading to what could be considered a period where these techniques became commonplace.
In the study of popular music, much attention is given to the cover version, a performance of a song filled with reference to and even commentary upon previous performances. Analysis of cover versions tends to reveal a lot about the performers and performances but very little about the work being performed. Because different versions of a song may vary widely, it is often difficult to determine what precisely is ‘the work’ in the first place, especially in the absence of a score. Using an original analytical apparatus, the pitch-prevalence contour, and using Jimmy Webb's ‘Didn't We’ as a case study, this essay attempts to quantify the ‘core components’ of a song, the parts of a song that are retained in most if not all of its versions. It is through the analysis of various performances, seeking similarities, that one is able to see the essence of the song revealed. What is more, isolating these components simultaneously brings the differences in the performances into greater relief. The methodology thus separates the singer and the song.