As we write this note in the middle of May, Little Richard, Florian Schneider, Betty Wright, and Andre Harrell have all just passed, nobody in the U.S. has been to a club or a live show in almost two months, musicians and venues are struggling to reinvent themselves online and take care of their staff, academics are wrapping up a term of emergency remote instruction, the IASPM-US meeting later this month has been postponed until 2021, and thousands of mostly black and brown people in the U.S. are dying every day from the worst pandemic in a century. Given all the loss and change over the past two months, it's a challenge to imagine what September will be like.
For now it’s business as usual at JPMS, and we are excited to bring you another issue full of fantastic and innovative popular music scholarship. This issue marks the debut of our three new associate editors: John Villanova is in charge of Amplifier Reviews, Roshanank Kheshti helms Amplifier’s Artist & Industry feature, and Sara Marcus runs Field Notes. In our Amplifier Review, “Precarity, or, Halsey: How Manic Comes Apart Like a Millennial,” Stephanie Burt considers if and how the singer’s latest album positions her as “the voice of a generation.” The Artist and Industry section features J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (aka DJ Pineapple Krush) interviewing British post-punk musician Rachel Aggs; their conversation ranges from The Bush Tetras to Brexit to gender and DIY. Field Notes features reports from two fall conferences. Brian Wright, Amy Coddington, and Andrew Mall wrote up a comprehensive summary of the AMS Popular Music Study Group-sponsored pre-conference symposium they organized on “The Future of Pop: Big Questions Facing Popular Music Studies in the 21st Century,” and in “Chicana/o Sounds: Field Notes from the Chicana/o and Sound Studies 2020 MLA Panel,” José Navarro reflects on the panel at this past year’s MLA that was co-organized by the MLA’s Executive Committees for Chicana/o Literature and Sound Studies.
There are four peer-reviewed articles in this issue. In “Campus Rock: Rock Music Culture on the College Campus during the Counterculture Sixties, 1967–1968,” James Carter digs deep into the scene at Drew University in New Jersey, which he argues is an example of “the relationship between the growth of rock culture, the college campus, and the counterculture sixties.” Staying on the topic of pop music and higher ed, Sara Hakeem Grewal’s “Hip Hop and the University: The Epistemologies of “Street Knowledge” and “Book Knowledge”” argues that the hip hop epistemologies exhibited in Method Man and Redman’s 2001 film How High and the rapping of Kanye West and J. Cole provide a needed corrective to the “hierarchical and colonizing” epistemologies often used to study hip hop culture in the academy. In “Sonic Necessity and Compositional Invention in #BluesHop: Composing the Blues for Sample-Based Hip Hop” Michail Exarchos (aka Stereo Mike) uses an auto-ethnographic analysis of his hybrid hip hop/blues compositional practice to explore the synergies and tensions inherent in attempts to combine hip hop’s sample-based aesthetics with the blues’ emphasis on original composition. Moving from #BluesHop to jazz fusion, Brian Wright’s “Jaco Pastorius, the Electric Bass, and the Struggle for Jazz Credibility” studies electric bassist Jaco Pastorius’s struggle to position his work as “real jazz” and offers a cautionary tale about the ways ideas of “authenticity” can be used to police pop music genres and scenes.
Kathy Peiss’s review essay considers Dale Cockrell’s Everybody’s Doin’ It: Sex, Music, and Dance in New York, 1840–1917 in fusion with Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheavals to highlight otherwise secondary themes in each: the former’s identification of women’s participation in Victorian-era dance music cultures and the latter’s discussion of music’s role in the black women’s lives Hartman narrates. According to Jeffery Melnick, Aaron Cohen’s Move on Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power carefully explicates how “the politics and poetics of Chicago soul a[re] mutually constitutive.” In her review of Joanna K. Love’s Soda Goes Pop: Pepsi-Cola Advertising and Popular Music, Alyxandra Vesey argues that Love’s analysis of Pepsi’s partnerships with pop stars in the 1980s offers “a vivid and useful cultural history of pop music and advertising’s growing mutual dependency.” James Deaville finds that in the collectively authored and unorthodoxly researched Spotify Teardown, “the results might have been secondary to the methods used to obtain them.” And finally, Barry J. Faulk argues that Casey Rae’s William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock’n’Roll blends biography with rock history to craft a passionately enthusiastic account of the author’s influence on twentieth century rock music and musicians.
Whether you’re working on campus or from home, we hope you enjoy this issue.