Journal of World Popular Music, Vol 4, No 2 (2017)

https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.35119

https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.35119

Simone Krüger Bridge, Sarah Baker and Raphaël Nowak

Editors’ Introduction

Welcome to issue 4.2 of the Journal of World Popular Music, an academic peer-reviewed journal that welcomes interdisciplinary perspectives and is dedicated to the dissemination of research on popular musics in different international and sociocultural contexts. Over the last four years in its existence, JWPM has sought to bring together the critical voices of people from around the world, placing specific emphasis on contemporary, interdisciplinary and international perspectives on international popular musics. The success and popularity of JWPM within and beyond the academic community is evident in our growing subscription rates and its inclusion in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)/Thomson Reuters, and SCOPUS, which is clear testament to our commitment to the highest possible publishing standards.

As the twenty-first century unfolds, Latin American popular music plays one of the central roles on the contemporary world popular music stage, and yet there is a general lack of studies on the role played by popular music in everyday life in countries in Latin America. Understanding this vast and complex music cultural expression is thus crucial and urgent. Issue 4.2 of JWPM brings together contributions by outstanding academics and younger scholars for a sustained exploration of popular musics in Argentina and Brazil, while focusing on three key categories in Latin American debates: popular, subalternity and periphery in a special issue entitled Music and Subalternity in Argentina and Brazil. Guest-edited by Pablo Alabarces and Felipe Trotta, the special issue explores the question of “the aesthetics of the periphery” and, in that regard, provides discussions as to how popular music in countries such as Brazil and Argentina mediates issues of social class, ethnicity and gender. In Latin America, the notion of the “popular” takes on a context-specific meaning, usually existing outside the scope of the large corporations, and so the authors question the relationship between popular music and society, and how different popular music genres are evaluated by the media, cultural and government institutions, and people from different social and ethnic backgrounds. We believe that the insights, theories and methods of Latin American popular music studies presented here provide illuminating and creative insights into diverse musical styles, genres and practices, including Brazilian funk carioca (Simone Pereira de Sá and Simone Evangelista Cunha), Argentine cumbia (Malvina Silba), Argentine jazz and Brazilian soul (Berenice Corti and Luciana Xavier de Oliveira), Argentine tango (Mercedes Liska), Latin romantic pop (Carolina Spataro), and the Beatles in Brazil (Gustavo Alonso).

In the second part of issue 4.2 of JWPM, we are pleased to present three Disciplinary Perspectives on Popular Music, written by prominent academic colleagues from ethnomusicology and popular music studies. Opening this section is Michael B. Bakan’s engaging keynote paper, “The Moral of the Story: Making Ethnomusicology Matter in the Twenty-first Century”, which he presented at the Annual Conference of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology in April 2017 and kindly agreed to publish in our journal. Bakan is motivating his readers to newly think about what ethnomusicologists do and why they do it, and to consider how ethnomusicology can support the fundamental values and principles that underscore the discipline at large. Bakan is taking “Tradition Today” as a point of departure to reflect on Jewish vocal and Balinese Beleganjur traditions today, George Clinton’s music, and the ethnomusicology of autism. Following is Bruno Nettl’s “Notes on Popular Music in my (Professional) Life”, which sketches the author’s fifty-something years of experience with popular music as a student of music and ethnomusicology in the United States, and as a professional in this field. The position paper provides fascinating personal insights into the role of popular music in the history of ethnomusicology, particularly in the Society for Ethnomusicology, in the history of American musical academia, and the reasons for its initial neglect, and Nettl recalls some incidents he regards as turning points in the eventual acceptance of popular music by both ethnomusicologists and historical musicologists. The final paper by Motti Regev, “Pop-Rock as Musical Cosmopolitanism”, explores the concept of cultural cosmopolitanism as it manifests itself through the “pop-rock aesthetic”, an idiom that interconnects a number of styles, and which is “applied” to popular music genres and has dominated the realm of popular music for more than half a century. If music is to be understood as omnipresent in contemporary society, Regev argues, individuals all over the world have become literate in the musical idioms characterized by the pop-rock aesthetic. Regev’s position paper offers a compelling case for the global development of the world’s popular music in the last few decades.

To end the issue we present a series of reviews on the theme of popular music and national identity. The section begins with Iván Darías Alfonso’s review of Geographies of Cubanidad: Place, Race and Musical Performance in Contemporary Cuba. Written by Rebecca M. Bodenheimer, the book looks at “the implications of music and musical practices in terms of defining place and region”, particularly in relation to how “music becomes a useful marker to theorize about local and regional differences and about the interplay and national identity” outside of official discourses. This study of Cuba is followed by Nabeel Zuberi’s review of Irene Morra’s Britishness, Popular Music, and National Identity: The Making of Modern Britain, a book he describes as “a sustained and incisive dissection of Britishness and Englishness in and through music”. The book is particularly “compelling and prescient” in the context of the current Brexit crisis and as Zuberi states, “Morra’s archaeology of nationalistic and patriotic music commentary in some of the most popular media shows that a nostalgic white male Britishness is firmly institutionalized and hegemonic”. Travelling across the channel from Britain to France, Ben Green then provides an overview of Sounds French: Globalisation, Cultural Communities, and Pop Music, 1958–1980. In this book, Jonathyne Briggs demonstrates that “music is not only significant to existing communities, such as those based on nationality or region, but also generates new communities”. As Green asserts, Sounds French “is a well-researched and well-argued consideration of how in the latter half of the twentieth century, popular music both broke down and reinforced existing social and cultural boundaries while enabling new forms of identity and belonging”. We then head to the Balkans, with Dijana Jelača’s review of Turbo-Folk Music and Cultural Representations of National Identity in Former Yugoslavia. Uroš Čvoro’s book provides a detailed analysis of a genre which has “in critical reception, been closely tied with Slobodan Milošević’s nationalist war machine” and which, if considered as a “conceptual category”, has had a wide-ranging influence on such things as “contemporary art, architecture and sculpture, as well as cinema”. Finally, our issue concludes with a double book review from Peter Mills who tackles two edited collections from 2013 which focus on the Eurovision Song Contest: Dafni Tragaki’s Empire of Song: Europe and Nation in the Eurovision Song Contest and Karen Fricker and Milija Gluhovic’s Performing the “New” Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest. Mills notes that each of these “avidly pro-Eurovision” books indicate that “there are strongly contested areas of interpretation and indeed ownership over the competition”. By covering a significant number of chapters from these two books in some detail, Mills draws out a multitude of connections between the music and musical acts of Eurovision and the performance of national identity.

We hope you enjoy and learn from this marvellous and rich panorama of papers about a wide range of fascinating and important topics on world popular music. Please consider how you might contribute to future issues of Journal of World Popular Music, with articles, interviews, reviews, position papers, audiovisual essays, or else. Our next regular issues will come out in summer 2019, with a double special issue on Global Hip Hop planned in 2018, so please submit material in mid-2018 to allow plenty of time for editing and publication. And as always, please do recommend JWPM to your peers, students, librarians, friends, and others with an interest in world popular music. Thank you for your continued interest and support!

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