The (Sometimes) Political Machinations of Popular Music

Popular Music IASPM-US Writing

The fall of 2012 was, if nothing else, political. It was, of course, an election year in the United States, a time when substance is often forsaken for slander. Fortunately, the AMS (American Musicological Society) popular music special interest group helped pick up the slack on the substance front. AMS-pop was directly involved in two politically-minded panels at fall 2012’s AMS/Society for Ethnomusicology/Society for Music Theory joint conference in New Orleans: 1). Popular Music and War and 2). Popular Music and Protest.

With a nod to both the political season and the doings of our colleagues in AMS/SEM/SMT, the IASPM-US website ( solicited essays on the (sometimes) political machinations of popular music. Instead of focusing our attention on the overtly political, we wanted to explore the ways in which pop music can become political or, perhaps, ways in which the political can become pop music. Here are the essays we published on the topic.

Interview with Natalie Hopkinson, author of Go-Go Live: The Life and Death of a Chocolate City, by Dorothy Berry

How Much Was That Doggie in the Window? by Philip Gentry

Retro Playlists, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nostalgia, and the Elvis Candidate, by Dana Gorzelany-Mostak

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