music as social action :: Blog
Social-action music in the news
A recent trawl through The New York Times picked up a couple of articles relevant to our recent discussions and readings:
1. Superchunk is a pop-punk band (there's one of those cagey hyphens!) that's been around for decades, and in all that time they have never been known for taking overt stances on social issues. Their new album, however, has been getting a good deal of press based on the fact that it is political. The NYTimes' headline is typical of the discourse being circulated by fans (and/or the band's PR): "It took Trump to make Superchunk go political." In the piece, you can read numerous assumptions we've already encountered, such as the idea that "[m]ost protest music is terrible. It’s pedantic, it’s usually preaching to the choir," as well as the expectation that the social upheaval Trump's election would unleash a lot of protest songs. Especially ahead of next week's topics, note the song that Mac McCaughan says is "questioning what good did all that punk rock do?" (The album is streaming temporarily here.)
2. The new Marvel superhero movie, "Black Panther," is generating a lot of headlines about its foregrounding of race within a white-dominant corner of pop culture. That extends also to its soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, which works "to hint at the movie’s story while concentrating on tales of struggle and swagger much closer to home." Consider here how the goals of an individual artist operate through this prime example of the culture-industry machine: where does Lamar's voice end and Marvel/Hollywood commercialism begin, or can that binary even be discerned? (The soundtrack is now on Spotify.)
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