Welcome to The International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland Branch

Popular Music, Revival & Renewal: Histories, Cultures, Practices

Posted: April 8th, 2024 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | Comments Off on Popular Music, Revival & Renewal: Histories, Cultures, Practices

CFP Special Issue of Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies: https://www.tandfonline.com/journals/ccon20

Contributions are sought for a special issue of Continuum under the theme ‘Popular Music, Revival & Renewal: Histories, Cultures, Practices’ with guest editors Lauren Istvandity, Mengyu Luo, and John Tebbutt.

There is an unusual dynamic to be observed in current popular music: it is so deeply embedded in cultures of everyday life that pop’s legacies crucially shape how we perceive music and its subcultures. In the post pandemic digital society this is increasingly visible. If ‘pop will eat itself’, the spectacle of this feast is contemporary music itself. Here, the terms popular music, contemporary music and ‘pop’, refer in general to products of a global music industry that is as evident in Korea or China as it is in Australia or Europe. Popular music’s cyclic generation of creative product is often fuelled by a sense of ‘looking back’ even as it serves to capture sentiments of modern-day audiences. This is particularly evident in the campaign around Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ project, but it may also be found in the now de rigueur performances built around debut or iconic albums. These musical pasts continue to resonate in a range of cultural practices, however significant shifts in digital streaming, the value of material cultures, and patterns in artistic output and audience consumption raise critical questions about the role of a now extensive popular music history on the trends of pop music in the present.

This special issue asks, how has the cyclic generation of creative product influenced shifts in cultural considerations of past and future; of immediacy and experience; of loss and renewal. The influence of music is notable in discussions of nostalgia as much as the cultural economy of live performance. At the same time, music technologies and mediums have also come to reflect the similar kinds of shifts: the reemergence of vinyl as a popular format along with never ending digital streams of creative product demonstrate how what was once old is forever new again. What is plainly evident is that music, and popular music in particular, is iterative, and works within ongoing patterns of renewal and revival. This can be seen in the revivalist nature of era-defining sounds and pop culture aesthetics, which continue to generate excitement with new audiences in new decades; in social movements seeking to restore a musical practice (Livingstone 1999); or the ways that histories of music and performance can be reimagined in the present through the application of new perspectives, that may be gender or ethnicity, politics or geography. For this special issue we welcome submissions that address the diverse ways in which this global pop music industry has engaged revival and renewal as a driver for content.

While some academic work has sought to conceptualise or comment on trends of renewal in popular music, there is a lack of current scholarship that draws focus to the impact of digital technologies, post-pandemic contexts, and the lived experiences of audiences and artists currently. For example, Andy Bennett’s work in this area, including the concept of ‘heritage rock’ (2009), or the work surrounding the concepts of ‘retromania’ (originally coined by journalist Simon Reynolds in 2011) and ‘technostalgia’ (Pinch and Reinecke 2009) are largely situated in the early 21st Century. Yet in the 15 or so years to date, widespread technological and social changes have impacted on ways that consumer and industry practices play out, in turn influencing how histories and cultures might be perceived, documented, and theorised. The current cross-temporal and cross-cultural contexts in which we now find ourselves provides an opportunity for meaningful scholarship that takes stock of rapidly changing digital cultural environments, to consider urgent questions about the cyclical nature of popular music production and what this means in terms of digital streaming and consumption practices; preservation and copyright issues of music catalogues; the potential originality of new material; and the capitalisation of music nostalgia and memory.

This special issue seeks to bring together essays from emerging and established scholars to extend on previous arguments and examinations at the intersections of popular music and notions of renewal and revival. With intense technological, political, and globalised changes in the 21st Century comes the need for an urgent revision of what was once thought of as ‘popular music history’ but which now constitutes new emerging global patterns of consumption, cultural practice, and theoretical realignment. In reviewing popular music’s revival and renewal within various theoretical frameworks, including cultural critique, postmodernism, media materialism, and identity politics, this special issue encourages deep interdisciplinary dialogues contributing to a more comprehensive analysis of the role of music and music media in society.

The editors seek expressions of interest in the form of 200 word abstracts for papers that consider popular music revival and renewal alongside the following topics, particularly those that propose diverse perspectives, contexts, or geographies:

  • Early Artist and industry approaches to music catalogues, marketing, and streaming
  • Material cultures of popular music in the wake of digital music availability
  • The increased dominance of digital music streaming cultures and technologies
  • Para-musical considerations including those relating traditional and new media formats
  • Fandoms/fan practices regarding renewal or revival of popular music genres or artists
  • The theorisation of iterative practices, such as ‘retro’, ‘nostalgia’, or what is once again ‘cool’ in 21st Century popular music and related cultures
  • The place of music and the music industry in broader socio-cultural concepts such as nostalgia, cultural renewal and the revival of traditions

Early career scholars are encouraged to apply.

To be considered for this special issue, please submit an abstract of 200 words along with author biographies of 100 words by 30 April 2024. Notification to authors will be made by 31 May 2024.

Successful authors must submit full articles (8000 words) for rigorous peer review by 30 September 2024. Accepted articles will be published in ‘online first’ editions, while the special issue will be released in 2025.

Please send submissions to Lauren Istvandity and Mengyu Luo: [email protected]; [email protected]