Media Narratives in Popular Music

Christopher Anderton (Editor), Martin James (Editor)

    Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


    The historical significance of music-makers, music scenes and music genres has been mediated through numerous academic and popular press publications (including magazines, films and television documentaries), as well through officially released music industry products and the informal productivity of artist and genre enthusiasts (Atton 2001, Shuker 2016). This book will examine these various publications and will question how and why they are constructed. For instance, the formal mediations of the music industry and popular press typically present linear narratives that are based on simplifications, exaggerations and omissions (Thornton 2008, Brocken 2010, Negus 2010, Wall 2013). The histories they construct often place an undue emphasis on key moments of birth and death, or on particular personalities that are deemed to drive those moments (Chambers 1985). This approach tends to lead to totalising ‘official’ histories that reduce otherwise messy narratives to one-dimensional interpretations of a heroic and celebratory nature (Negus 2010, Wall 2013). Ideological positioning, personal biases and sometimes untrustworthy narrators lead to historical perspectives that become naturalised and accepted as being true, and serve to narrow our understanding of the development of popular music (Powers 2011). They also contribute to the creation and maintenance of myths that reinforce the contemporary industry of music nostalgia (Anderton et al 2012), and are further communicated through the user-generated content of social media and the Internet (James 2013). Artists, genres and events may be removed from these simplified and mythologised media narratives or their significance downplayed in processes of distortion and selection (Powers 2012). The informal mediations of fans and enthusiasts may reinforce such mythologies or actively challenge them by presenting alternative narratives (James 2018). For example, bloggers and non-commercial bootleggers uncover ‘lost’ recordings, make live concerts available to trade, or publish their own interviews and stories that extend beyond the official canon (Anderton, 2016). The chapters in this book will explore and challenge these mediated histories and narratives – to question the basis on which they are constructed, and to highlight other, hidden, histories that have otherwise been neglected. These new perspectives on music history are themselves subject to issues of re-presentation and bias, yet they expand our broader knowledge of the processes involved, and further refine our understanding of the history of music.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherBloomsbury Academic
    Number of pages256
    ISBN (Electronic)9781501357282
    ISBN (Print)9781501357275
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022


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