This is the first issue of our thirtieth year publishing the Journal of Popular Music Studies and it marks a new proverbial chapter for us. We have a new publisher—University of California Press—and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with them. JPMS, like the field of popular music studies itself, has changed dramatically over the past three decades, and we feel this new partnership marks a new era for where the journal can and will head.
In that sense, Issue 30.1-2 is a soft relaunch. It’s not a dramatic shift—though we are quite fond of our new cover design—but as you’ll see in our table of contents, there’s new and expanded content that we see as a reflection of the new kinds of pop music work we want to champion. For one, our Amplifier section, created and edited by Karen Tongson, was always meant to include music criticism and journalism, and we’re happy to publish two album reviews written by some of the brightest pop music scholars in the business: Taylor Black, musing on Amy Ray’s Stag, and Shana Redmond taking on Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear. Expect to see much more in the Amplifier section in future issues, including long-form music journalism pieces and other examples of writing that showcase how close the kinship between pop music criticism and scholarship can be.
Our next relatively new section is what we’re dubbing “Field Notes.” Here you’ll find speeches, roundtable dialogues, and reflective essays that engage with the past, present and future of popular music studies. We’ve published these kinds of pieces in the past, but we’re committed to making them a regular part of our issues, rather than occasional one-offs.
For this issue, we invited Amy Coddington to revisit the first few volumes of the journal. She brought our attention back to Venise Barry’s prescient “Crossing Over: Musical Perceptions Within Black Adolescent Culture,” originally published in JPMS 5.1 (1993). Coddington writes a thoughtful response that considers what has (and has not) changed regarding the politics of “crossing over” during the intervening quarter century. We’re also honored to publish Nadine Hubbs’s keynote address from last year’s IASPM-US conference, “Country Music In Dangerous Times,” a call to reimagine country music as part of a progressive, rural, working-class culture that maps cross-race, as well as queer, intimacies and queer alliances. Finally, Eric Weisbard has put together a whirlwind of a special essay for 30.1-2, drawn from his current research on American popular music writing, going as far back as the eighteenth century. That survey, he argues, teaches us that the field of popular music inquiry is at its best when it makes room for outsiders and iconoclasts, for the self-taught and the amateur, for piecemeal methods and provocative departures from academic convention.
Expanding JPMS to include new formats, contributors, and constituencies, however, shouldn’t require us to abandon our role as the journal of record for popular music studies in the U.S. Lest you think we’re stretching too far from our roots, fear not; 30.1-2 offers five outstanding examples of peer-reviewed, contemporary popular music scholarship. These include Jose Anguiano’s ethnographically driven discussion of the listening habits of working-class immigrants in Santa Barbara, CA; Colin Gunckel’s article on the influential queer punk scene of late ‘70s/early ‘80s Los Angeles, and Sharon Hockhauser’s serious investigation of the humorous side of heavy metal. JPMS has always drawn a dynamic array of pop music scholarship that reflects the global diversity of the discipline. Based on the content we have lined up for this and future issues, you’ll see how much the field is continuing to grow.
On that note, as always, we close with our book reviews section, edited by David Suisman. This issue has four robust reviews, including one by Managing Editor Meghan Drury about J. Griffith Rollefson’s new Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality.
Whew! There you have it, 30.1-2, the first issue of our third decade. We are so excited finally to bring it to you, and we hope it marks an auspicious beginning to the next 30 years of popular music studies.