Blog is now closed for credit

Hi all,

Thanks again for a fantastic semester! While you are more than welcome to continue the conversation here, please note that all blogs posts and comments were due on 12/8. I’ve completed my tally of the posts and comments so far, so any new material posted here won’t be counted for credit. Email me if you have any questions.

Very best wishes for a restful break and a happy New Year,

Prof. Herzog

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Beyonce’s Lemonade: She Dreams in Both Worlds

Oh boy.  The Lemonade visual album itself is a lot to take in so it was also a lot to take in all of the different comments made by the authors.  There are so many different things that you can talk about when talking about Lemonade.  One thing that I found interesting was this:

“Beyonce’s first white-fleshed and white-haired guises, and the painted-white female dancers in the night-lockers, necks snapped back and then forward, as if they had been cut loose from the hangman’s rope.  Later, when an immobile Beyonce intones “Freedom” from a stage, the dangling lights behind her resemble nooses.”

I must have watched Lemonade at least 10 times.  I think I watched it every day for the first couple of weeks that it came out.  I was obsessed!  Any who, never in all of those viewings did I ever think about “hangman’s rope” and “nooses”.  I think it just goes to show how much detail was put into this body of work.  Every single thing has a meaning and serves a purpose.  The visual album isn’t just about infidelity.  It’s about so much more than that.  It’s important to watch it and not just listen to it because so much of the visuals play such an important role in properly portraying the messages that Beyonce wants to show.

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Girls and Subculture by Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber

There was a lot about this reading that rubbed me the wrong way but I think the thing that bothered me the most was when they talked about the “Motor Bike Girl”.

They describe a motor-bike girl to have “matte pan-stick lips, an insolent expression in her eyelined eyes and an unzipped jacket, the model looked sexual, numbed and unfeeling, almost expressionless.”  They said how this image suggested sexual deviance.  They said that this description was more of a fantasy than a reality because women wouldn’t be riding a bike.  Instead, they said that the only way a women could join a bike gang, was if she was dating one of the members.  They said how the women got treated primarily like sex objects.

That just really pissed me off because women are so much more than just a sex object.  It’s dehumanizing.  What’s sad is that there are still so many people who view women as nothing more than sex objects.  It’s really frustrating as a women to try to get people to understand the problem with this.

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The Audio Visual IPod

I can completely relate to the feeling of having music change the world as you see it. When you listen to music while outside, you suddenly feel like you’re transported into your own movie or whatever, depending on what you’re listening to at the moment. For me, I have two kinds of music that I listen to: music with singing and music without (usually video game OST). When I have lyrical music on, I feel like I’m in my own movie or TV show because those are usually the kinds of media that uses singing to create the mood. When I have OSTs playing, I suddenly feel like I’m in my own video game. I feel more energized when listening to video game music and instead of it being like a boring trip going to your destination, it suddenly becomes an epic journey. Music can transform a person so much that sometimes people don’t truly understand the importance of good music.

However, this could also be a little bit of a bad thing because now it’s hard going anywhere without music. I have trouble being anywhere in complete silence I’ll often zone out if there’s nothing to keep me distracted. Silence is such a heavy space to fill and a lot of people can become dependent on music because they don’t know how to deal with extended periods of silence. It makes me wonder how much further we could go beyond ipods, how we could go a step further from carrying music with us everywhere.

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In Defense of Disco Response

In this article Richard Dyer discusses many different things but something I found interesting was the view of capitalism in disco. He points out that disco is “irredeemably capitalistic’ both in how it is produced and how it is expressed. No matter how you look at it the goal is to make money and more money. He does point out that it is produced my an industry that is capitalistic as well which I felt didn’t even need to be explained. The music industry has always been about making money and even the individuals who are in it for pleasure begin to focus more on money making in the end.

He also mentioned tow kinds of music that are set against disco – folk and rock. I didn’t really understand the point that he was trying to make here. though. I was confused, is he saying that folk and rock music are more authentic and genuine when sets against disco. If so, why is it more authentic, he says that they are “produced for the people, but by them”, is disco music not produced by people for people too? Overall, I was just confused by what he was trying to say here.

Jumping back into something I did understand or felt I understood was the issues of Cultural Production in disco. Dyer points out that disco is founded on two contradictions; production for profit and use, and regulation on the latter. Basically even though disco is produced by capitalist, it isn’t meant for capitalist in the end. They create they trends and make money from it but beyond that everything else is left up to consumers.

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Night Club Royal by Josh Eells

This was an interesting read.  I wasn’t aware of how much money nightclubs spend on DJs.  All of these people described in the article, like Afrojack and Waits, have so much money that they can spend on anything.  Afrojack was always described to be in designer clothing, taking private jets, and doing what he wants at his own leisure.  At one point in the article, Waits had someone remove confetti off of him using an air compressor.  That’s insane.  He could have just removed it himself but he had someone do it for him.  At a certain point, Afrojack and Waits joked about the fact that they had all bought new expensive cars.  At one point, Afrojack states that he has all of this money and he doesn’t know what to spend it on.

Another thing I found crazy was how expensive bottle service/alcohol is in these night clubs in Las Vegas.  The article said that a bottle of Grey Goose vodka is usually $45, at a wholesale price.  At a nightclub in Las Vegas, a bottle of Grey Goose vodka is $600.  SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR ONE BOTTLE OF VODKA!  THAT’S INSANE!  Will.i.am said that a hit in “dj land” is how much alcohol is bought.  Will.i.am also said that it shouldn’t be called dance music but instead should be called “look at the dj and get drunk music”.

One thing that I thought was missing from the article, or at least it’s something that I wish was addressed, was why this is a thing.  Why are people willing to spend so much money on alcohol and why are they willing to spend so much money to see a DJ perform?  I think that would make for an interesting research project.  I personally hate going to clubs, especially on nights where a well known DJ is going to perform.  On the one hand, it’s almost guaranteed that the music that night is going to be good.  But the main DJ usually doesn’t show up until really late at night, around 3 in the morning, and they usually don’t play for too long.  To get a table or a booth at a club, you have to pay for bottle service, which is also really expensive.  Going out to a club is just an expensive thing to do.  I really hate it and I try to avoid it.  As a broke college student, it’s really hard justifying spending over $100 on just one bottle of alcohol.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

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Michael Coyle’s “Hijacked Hits and Antic Authenticity: Cover Songs, Race, and Postwar Marketing

In this article, Michael Coyle talks about a few different things.  One of the things he discusses is the concept of “hi-jacking” a hit, which he says is different from a cover.  He said that at the time, the music industry made most of its money through the sales of sheet music.  When multiple singers were making different versions of the same songs, it helped sell more sheet music.  So the music industry had no problem with multiple recordings of the same songs competing against each other, because in the end, the music industry was still making a profit.  Several recording companies themselves would produce multiple recordings of the same song.  At this time, the music wasn’t associated to any particular artist, unlike today.  Today, you associate certain songs with their artists.  For example, when you think of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you think of Queen.  If any other artist were to make their own recording of it, you would still think of Queen.  There’s an association between the song and the performer.  At the time, “The primary concern of any recording company was not the exclusive identification of one song to an artist, but the timely release of its version so as to catch wave of public interest before interest subsided.”  So if a song was becoming popular, artists would then record and put out their version of the song.  Certain artists wouldn’t even record a song unless they knew it was a guaranteed hit.  This became an issue though for a lot of black artists.  When a white artist would record a version of a song, it would go up on the charts, meanwhile the black artists version of the song would fall down on the charts.  

However, what I found most interesting about this was when he spoke about Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, and when he started talking about artist authenticity.  He starts talking about racial authenticity as well.  He mentions how with a song like “Strange Fruit”, no white person could ever hi-jack it because they lack the racial authenticity.  The song, which is about the lynching of African-Americans, is something that no white person could ever sing about and be realistic in their portrayal of it.  It simply cannot be done.  Later in the article, he talks about artist authenticity.  He said how people started not only buying into the song, but also the ideologies of the artist.  There was an expectation that the artist had to live the life that they described in their music.  

I found that really interesting because I think that’s very true, especially in this time.  Without that racial authenticity, without the artist authenticity, the artist winds up looking foolish.  It reminded me of a scene from the parody film, Not Another Film.  In this scene, they are making fun of a scene from the movie “Bring It On”.  One of the teams from San Diego (mostly white) stole a cheerleading routine from another team from East Compton (mostly black).  When the East Compton team accuses the team from San Diego of stealing their routine, they deny it.  In the parody, the team from San Diego denies having stolen the routine.  They then proceed to perform the routine, in which part of the cheer says “We ain’t white”. 

This scene reminded me of what Coyle was saying in terms of the authenticity.  Without that authenticity, the song just doesn’t work.  In the case of the movie, the routine just doesn’t work. The racial and artistic authenticity is important to how the audience will receive it.

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Response to “Across an Invisible Line: A Conversation about Music and Torture” By Suzanne G. Cusick and Branden W. Joseph

I found this article difficult to read, and at first it wasn’t catching my attention. By then Cusick said, “Detainees were not asked questions while subjected to music; they were subjected to music and then sent back to their cells to sleep it off and be interrogated the next day.4 The use of music to manipulate prisoners’ behavior has always been a “condition of detention,” but subsuming acoustical violence at these levels of intensity under that rubric is another sleight of hand.” Her statement immediately reminded me of marketing practices today in grocery stores. “Condition of detention” sounds to me like how malls, grocery stores, etc., play certain types of music to make you stay shopping longer. Of course this is a much less extreme example than Cusick’s example of prison, but I feel the examples relate.

They also go on to discuss how these practices are normalized because this type of audio torture seems less harmful than others, which is why it is often easily dismissed by other’s when it comes to speaking on the topic, but personally I feel it may be a harsher punishment. Physical torture is just that, physical. When torture becomes psychological, I feel it may hurt you in more ways than one, and this doesn’t heal as quickly as maybe a bruise would heal. Audio is also not the only “no-touch” torture they discuss, they also speak about light bombardment, sleep deprivation, and temperature transformations, to which Joseph says could be a minor annoyance but “can transform an annoyance into something physically, psychologically, and even metaphysically devastating,” and I completely agree.

I’m also not trying to say physical torture cannot change a person psychologically, I just believe the damage could be much worse if the intention was to break someone down that way since the start. Considering how important music is, and how it has the power to affect our mood, this form of torture is pretty terrifying especially when you think about how awful it would be to be “forced to vibrate” with music you did not choose.

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The Audio-Visual iPod Response

Reading this article felt like I was reading about myself at times. Once, I put my headphones in the ‘real world’ is basically on mute. Bull quotes Urry in the reading, “Urban citizens frequently ignore the physical environment through which they move.” From personal experience, I can attest to this, my iPhone contains my own personal playlist and I’m wherever I want to be when I listen to it, most times I tend to forget about the physical location of where I am. Listening to a song makes me feel as if I’m painting a picture in my head, or attending my own private concerts – there are not limitations.

My playlist is basically the background music to the movie that is my life, it makes it more intimate and appealing. The reading talks a lot about aesthetics and I definitely see the connect. Many think music is just auditory but there is a large visual component too, that people are just beginning to notice.

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Marketing, Gangnam Style Response

I think Dae Ryun Chang’s 3-point guideline for companies to follow to develop their own “Gangnam Style” is quite interesting. The first point “Make your product or brand more ownable” is different than what many companies are used to. The old (for lack of a better word) marketing formula was all about protecting your creation from being stolen. I did not know that the song was not copyrighted. I do believe that not doing so helped the song reach the audience that it did. The second point “Be open-minded, but in a controlled way”, is a step that I think many artists and companies are already following today. There are more opportunities for fans to have a say in what happens with their favorite artist. Crowdsourcing has become very popular and proves to be quite successful as well; in addition, with social media constantly growing there is a direct line of contact with fans to see what they want. More and more increasingly artists and brands are collaborating with media influential to develop new ways to reach their current audience and expand it as well. Finally, the third point “Find an uncommonly-common emotional denominator that resonates across cultures”, is easier said than done. Psy was able to achieve this because he spoke on something many can relate to, not that everyone understood what was being said. I think these points are interesting but because media and consumers are ever changing I’m not this type of success can be repeated 100%.

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