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Music Embodies Imagined Worlds
Posted on April 24th, 2010 at 5:09 pm by silvercc and

All of this week’s readings discussed different “alternative subcultures” within the music industry. 

In “Technobanda and the Politics of Identity,” Helena Simonett describes Mexican American’s appreciation of technobanda, serving as an example of how diasporic music gives a sense of ethnic pride, identity, and affiliation. One line was so profound and well said that I chose it as the title to this blog, “Music embodies imagined worlds.”

 In “Post-Punk’s Attempt to Democratise the Music Industry,” David Hesmondhalgh gives an overview of the success and failure of Rough Trade, focusing on their use of the democratisation, and how this may have benefited, or disadvantaged them.

In “Just a Girl? Rock Music, Feminism, and the Cultural Construction of Female Youth,” Gayle Wald analyzes the female youth subculture that celebrated girlhood through the songs and lifestyles of female rock stars, “each with her own carefully cultivated star persona.” She discusses popular “girl power” artists such as Riot Grrrl, Gwen Stefani, and Spice Girls, to Japanese female bands such as Shonen Knife and Cibo Matto. The comparison of the Rolling Stone and Spin articles gave informative insight into how the media picks and chooses its stories in relation to their audience and status.

 In “What is Indie Rock,” Ryan Hibbett provides multiple broad, yet differing definitions of independent rock music explaining, “while it marks the awareness of a new aesthetic, it also satisfy[ing] among audiences a desire for social differentiation and supplies music providers with a tool for exploiting that desire.” He further demonstrates this point through his analyses of indie representative Lou Barlow and his home recordings, the ethos of post-rock, indie rock as a social discourse through websites such as soyouwanna.com, and the marketing of indie rock through websites such as Amazon.com. One thing I found interesting in this journal was the notion of “self-deprecation.” Hibbett writes, “As with Barlow’s music, everything must be outwardly downplayed – so carefully constructed as to seem not constructed and therefore ‘pure,’” when describing the rules provided by soyouwanna.com in order to fake being an indie rock expert. This line stood out to me because he defines indie rock as “independent of the economic and political forces” and claims that, “this independence exists in a positive correlation with artistic integrity and aesthetic quality.” However, with my knowledge that quality is commonly based on authenticity, “carefully constructed” outfits and hygiene seems inauthentic to me and lacks “aesthetic quality.” He later clears up that “the intent is not merely to be recognized as “indie,” but to communicate to the non-indie world that you are part of something, or that you know about something… which they are unable to identify.” I thought, “With websites like this that provide a how-to list of rules, how rare can this subculture possibly be?” In conclusion, he makes the argument that “the desire to be different is little more than commonplace, that the indie elite are more numerous than they would perhaps care to think.” Maybe my interpretation was right after all?

 I tried to think of a present-day indie artist and the first that came to mind was M.I.A. I’m not sure if she’s considered indie or not, in “music industry” terms, but I know when I first heard her music, along with her abstract style and use of art, I thought she was an alternative, indie artist. Her music integrates many genres and usually has a political message, representing her own personal struggles living in a third world country. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with M.I.A, here is one of her videos, “Paper Planes.” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewRjZoRtu0Y

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Comments so far:

Link Here | April 27, 2010,

YES– so glad you picked up on the thread I was hoping to use to tie these diverse readings together. The notion of an imagined world seems key to the rap debates from last week as well…

  Amy Herzog |


Link Here | May 19, 2016,

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