pop music

What Puts the Pop in Pop Music?

What Puts the Pop in Pop Music?

As the Beatles learned, good music, even good looks, is seldom enough to break a band into the American mainstream. So what puts the pop in pop music?

1980s Pop Music and the Atomic Pleasure Dome

1980s Pop Music and the Atomic Pleasure Dome

Saturated in apocalyptic fears of the atomic bomb, 1980s music was also danceable and transporting. How can something that was so horrible also be so much fun?

What Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ Did to Brian Eno and Giorgio Moroder (Excerpt)

What Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ Did to Brian Eno and Giorgio Moroder (Excerpt)

In this excerpt from Thompson’s I Feel Love, which explores the far-reaching influence of song and singer, the disco groove moves Brian Eno and Giorgio Moroder.

How Pop Music Mainstreams Religious Weirdness

How Pop Music Mainstreams Religious Weirdness

With its devils and aliens, pop music can be a “window on the weird”, sweeping odd material lodged in subcultural pockets into the broader currents of culture.

Aretha Franklin and Black Music Power

Aretha Franklin and Black Music Power

Aretha Franklin’s superior soul albums, ‘Spirit in the Dark’ and Young, Gifted and Black’, see her stepping up to the ’70s Black Power movement.

Aretha Franklin: Preacher’s Daughter

Aretha Franklin: Preacher’s Daughter

Aretha Franklin, born a musical prodigy, was nurtured by her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, and his numerous houseguests of gospel and R&B renown.

‘The Poetry of Pop’ Stretches the Definition of Pop Generously

‘The Poetry of Pop’ Stretches the Definition of Pop Generously

Adam Bradley’s The Poetry of Pop is academic, literary, and breezy – it works well for what it obviously wants to be, a primer on American popular music.

By the Book: ‘Rocking the Closet: How Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music’

By the Book: ‘Rocking the Closet: How Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music’

Vincent L. Stephens confronts notions of the closet—both coming out and staying in—by analyzing the careers of Liberace, Johnny Mathis, Johnnie Ray, and Little Richard. This excerpt of Rocking the Closet explores the work of "Mr. Emotion", Johnnie Ray.

Lil Nas X’s 7 (EP) Is the Work of a Canny Prankster

Lil Nas X’s 7 (EP) Is the Work of a Canny Prankster

The genre-agnostic "Old Town Road" rapper's lyrics are less interesting than the scenery Lil Nas X drops them in.

A Place for Us: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and the Legacy Captured in ‘Imagine John Yoko’

A Place for Us: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and the Legacy Captured in ‘Imagine John Yoko’

Imagine John Yoko is a beautifully curated recollection of a song, an album, successive films, and the legacy of peaceful idealism from the people who made it happen and carry on with the message.

‘Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.’ Is a Studied but Incomplete Portrait of the Artist and Activist

‘Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.’ Is a Studied but Incomplete Portrait of the Artist and Activist

The new documentary by Steven Loveridge, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., is an imperfect homage to the talents of its star, albeit with brief moments of fascinating inquiry at its center.

David Bowie and Other ‘Strange Stars’

David Bowie and Other ‘Strange Stars’

Jason Heller's Strange Stars, on David Bowie and sci-fi, is an exciting and loving look at a time when infinite wonder had a role in the pop music marketplace.