A few years ago, a friend introduced me to William Onyeabor's infectiously feel-good early synth-funk song, “Fantastic Man.” I was equally intoxicated by the electric organ solos that seemed to go on a little too long and Onyeabor's elusive backstory: he emigrated from Nigeria to New York in the late 1970s, self-produced a series of recordings that influenced the burgeoning underground hip-hop scene, and later rejected music altogether to become a pastor in Nigeria. I searched used record store bins for one of his long-lost self-made pressings, grooved along to a low-definition MP3, and felt cool. A real, authentic cool—not like those hipsters a few chairs down from me in the coffee shop wearing their 90s fashion simulacra. I was not like everybody else. Several months later, all of my illusions of coolness shattered when I heard fragments of “Fantastic Man” featured alongside a lighthearted barbershop scene in an Apple...
Review: I'm Not Like Everybody Else: Biopolitics, Neoliberalism, and American Popular Music by Jeffrey T. Nealon
Natalie Farrell is a Ph.D. student in music history/theory at the University of Chicago. Her work has been published in Music and Letters and The Flutist Quarterly, and she has presented in conferences across the Midwest and Toronto. In 2017, she received a grant from the Eastman School of Music's Paul R. Judy Center for Innovation and Research to explore “hip consumerism” and the Indianapolis Symphony/New Amsterdam partnership. Her interests include cruel optimism and the art music industry post-1990, sound studies, trauma theory, and traditional dance music in Northern Ireland. In her free time, she likes to knit and spend time with her dog (who is named after Leonard Bernstein).
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Natalie Farrell; Review: I'm Not Like Everybody Else: Biopolitics, Neoliberalism, and American Popular Music by Jeffrey T. Nealon. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 March 2020; 32 (1): 130–132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2020.32.1.130
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