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Lecture 12

Lecture 12

Course Code
MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter

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Music and Popular Culture: Lecture Notes
Lecture 12: April 3 rd
Lecture 11 Recap:
- Record companies consisted of a few conglomerates
- Piracy became an issue
- Recession resulted in angst amongst the British population resulting in the Punk
- Boomers turned into their 30s (no more purchasing power)
- MIDI allowed for the communication between electronics
- There was a switch to the compact disk, a new format that was more durable and more
difficult for piracy to occur
Music Television (MTV)
- MTV emerged in the 80s through cable TV (practically everyone at this point in time
had cable TV)
- It was created by Robert Pittman and was owned by Warner, and important record label
- This was the first every 24 hour music video television channel
- Record labels saw MTV as a way to market their music
- They also attempted to sell their music videos, but this quickly proved to be
unsuccessful due to the unrealistic prices set by the labels
- In all, MTV allowed record labels to package and promote an image of their performers
- They targeted suburban white communities and most of the acts featured on the channel
were initially white.
- There were very few black acts. The few acts featuring black artists were often featured
late at night (2:00AM) and were non-American artists
- There was a discriminatory and racist claim against MTV by the public and this was
answered with Michael Jackson, who broke down this racial barrier
- His album Thriller, was an album that topped the charts for almost two whole years
after its release
- He also upped the anti of music video quality
Music Example: Michael Jackson – “Thriller” (Music Video)
oProduced in 1983, yet the production values still hold up to today’s standards
oBrilliant marketing as zombies and werewolves were very popular in the 80s –
the video reflects the cheesy B-flick horror movies released en masse at the
oAmazing special effects are featured –directed by John Landis (Director of An
American Werewolf in London)
oThe opening sequence of the video is set in the 50s as the 1950s in the 80s
instilled naïve nostalgia
oThe graveyard sequence is voiced over by Vincent Price, a popular villain in
several horror flicks in the 60s and 70s – he was a horror movie icon to teens in
the 80s
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oThe use of Price’s voice was a way to make the video more authentic in the
horror sequences
oThe dance sequences are amazing, featuring impressive choreography
- With MJ, MTV promoted a new dance culture to teens (i.e. Moon walk)- MJ’s dances
moves originally came from James Brown
- Thriller was an album where all the songs featured were released as singles. This was
unprecedented and resulted in an extremely successful release
- The songs were not limited to a single musical genre but spanned many.
- There is something for everyone on this album including disco funk, rock, love songs
and everything in between – this album therefore widely appealed to the public
Music Example: Michael Jackson - “Billie Jean”
oFunk Disco
oGroove build up at the beginning of song
oTeen pregnancy theme
oHook based lyrics with a fast tempo, similar to TSOP which originates from a
motown inspiration
Music Example: Michael Jackson – “Beat it
oMore of a funkie, rock mix
oAnti-gang violence song with the message to not get involved with gangs
oThe image given to MJ in the music video is very non-sexual (Similar to Berry
Gordon’s vision with Motown, where he wished to keep everything non-
oThis song tried to get rid of stereotypes against black people
oThe problem with racism continued well into the 90s
- MTV was also criticized for objectifying women
- Most groups on TV targeted a male audience
- Women were scantily dressed to look sexy
- Madonna was accused of expatiating this notion
Music Example: Madonna – “Like a Virgin” (Music Video)
oThis song is about female sexuality (a topic of taboo at the time)
oThis was one of the first videos to show female sex - represents a shock value
oShe wasn’t even married at the time, and there is no evidence of a relationship
in the video – simple lust where the lion man becomes a tool for pleasure
oThe scene where she tears the white sheet off of the red chair is a metaphor to
represent to tearing of the hymen as a woman loses her virginity
oThis was a rebellious song against traditional sex rules
oIt challenged traditional sexual roles of women to show that women are also
sexual beings by nature
oOther images are the fact that the video takes place in Venice (city of love)
oThe boat going through the bridges is a sex metaphor
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