The social changes that went along with the political upheaval of 1989/90 in the countries of state socialism were not limited to the political system, economic structures or social conditions. The late phase and the end of state socialism were marked by a far-reaching transformation of popular culture, with global cultural changes becoming an important driver of the post-communist transformation. Up to now, there have been some individual studies on the history of pop in the 1990s and early 2000s with a particular view to the united Germany, the countries of East-Central and South-Eastern Europe and the states that emerged with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but no comprehensive overview of the globally entangled transformation processes in pop culture. The conference hence aims to bring together researchers in the broader field of “pop history” to examine the overarching tendencies of this fundamental socio-cultural change and the protagonists and institutions that determined it from a comparative perspective. The focus of the conference is on pop music and the entire range of pop cultural forms of expression (e.g. film, fashion, literature).
Tag Archives: contemporary history
Fiesta Mexicana und Samba de Janeiro. Konstruktionen ‚fremder‘ Kulturen in der deutschen Popmusik (Projektskizze)
Popmusik rückt die Welt nicht nur näher zusammen, ihr grenzübergreifender Charakter wirkt auch auf Identitäten. Sogar als ‚fremd‘ wahrgenommene und deklarierte Kulturen werden mittels popkultureller Produkte und Massenmedien für das Subjekt erfahrbar und Teil der alltäglichen Lebenswelt. Dies geschieht nicht nur durch die Rezeption ausländischer Bands, sondern vielfach auch durch Thematisierungen und Inszenierungen ‚fremder‘ Kulturen in der deutschen Popmusik. Diese Darstellungen gehören in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts über den Schlager hinaus zum Standardrepertoire deutscher (d. h. deutschsprachiger oder in den beiden deutschen Staaten produzierten) Popmusik.
Frontcover des Albums “Love for Sale” (1977) von Boney M.
In meinem Forschungsprojekt untersuche ich diese Konstruktionen in der deutschen Popmusik in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, ihre Akteur:innen und Rezeptionsgeschichte sowie ihren Einfluss auf die Gesellschaft der Bundesrepublik und der DDR. Continue reading
Dokumentarfilm “Unter Brüdern: Rock und Pop aus dem Ostblock”
Von Michael Rauhut (Autor) und Tom Franke (Regie und Produktion)
Rock- und Popmusik aus den sozialistischen Bruderländern spielte in der DDR eine große Rolle. Der staatliche Rundfunk und das Schallplattenlabel Amiga produzierten deutsche Versionen der Hits des Ostblocks, und auch auf den Konzertbühnen konnte man die Stars von nebenan häufig erleben. Besonders beliebt waren Gäste aus Ungarn und Polen. Sie wirkten weltoffen, besaßen aufgrund liberalerer Verhältnisse größere Freiheiten und Erfahrungen als ihre Kollegen aus der DDR. In den achtziger Jahren stießen Bands aus der Sowjetunion auf ein wachsendes Interesse. Continue reading
Research Project: Punk in the Federal Republic Germany 1976-1990s (English & German text)
Campino, singer of Die Toten Hosen, interviewed the then youth minister Angela Merkel for a special issue of the German news magazine Der Spiegel with the title “Pop & Politics” in 1994. The cover featured a collage which comprised of people like Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bill Clinton playing a saxophone. Among them, Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols glared at the possible buyers in neighbourhood kiosks. In this issue the journalist and pop theorist Diedrich Diederichsen formulated ten theses for contemporary pop culture. Tony Parsons, one of the first journalists to write about British punk from 1976 onwards in the New Musical Express, pondered about the popularity of punk and its relation to mass culture in the 1990s. Punk as a media phenomenon and a lifestyle became part of mass culture and was a topic taken seriously by cultural critics. Continue reading
Research project: Radio Luxembourg and Europe n°1 in the Long Sixties
Commercial radio stations Radio Luxembourg (French and English services) and Europe n°1 are the focal point of my PhD thesis (defended at the University of Luxembourg in November 2020.). They were popular institutions in Western Europe throughout the Long Sixties (1958-1974) working across media and broadcasting transnationally. My thesis Commercial Radio Stations and their Dispositif. Transnational and Intermedial Perspectives on Radio Luxembourg and Europe n°1 in the Long Sixties postulates the existence of an overarching dispositif of commercial radio stations that enabled them to operate on various dimensions and differentiated them from other broadcasters. Continue reading
New publication: Made in Germany – Studies in Popular Music
Made in Germany: Studies in Popular Music serves as a comprehensive introduction to the history, sociology, and musicology of contemporary German popular music. Each essay, written by a leading scholar of German music, covers the major figures, styles, and social contexts of popular music in Germany and provides adequate context so readers understand why the figure or genre under discussion is of lasting significance. The book first presents a general description of the history and background of popular music in Germany, followed by essays organized into the following thematic sections:
- Historical Spotlights
- Globally German
- Also “Made in Germany”
- Explicitly German and
- Reluctantly German.
The cold German: The thermo-aesthetics of Kraftwerk. On the Obituaries on Florian Schneider
Nothing is more German than Kraftwerk, not even Germans themselves. Kraftwerk has long since risen to national myth, with significant help from English-speaking writers with a certain affinity for everything German. The obituaries that appeared after the recent death of founding member Florian Schneider resemble the usual pieces written about the group. All emphasize the numerous popular references to the band and the influence their sounds, beats and melodies have had on the music world: from David Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” and “V2 Schneider” (1977) to the Kraftwerk samples in the early hip hop and techno tracks of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” (1982) and Cybotron’s “Clear” (1983) and the work of Daft Punk and Coldplay. What they do not mention, however, is that Florian Schneider, together with his long-time partner Ralf Hütter, managed to create an image that would prove to be Germany’s most internationally successful pop export: the cold German.
Listening Again to Popular Music as History (CfA, Deadline: Sept. 2018)
Jeffrey H. Jackson and Stanley C. Pelkey open their collection, Music and History (subtitle ‘Bridging the Disciplines’, 2005) by asking: ‘Why haven’t historians and musicologists been talking to one another?’ They suggest that at the heart of this absence is a problem of communication, concerning the distinct methods, knowledge and skills employed in both disciplines: does one need to be able to read, play or even ‘appreciate’ music for instance in order to make sense of it historically? On the other hand, do musicologists need an understanding of historiography to write histories of music? The issue for scholars in both disciplines is the status of the musical object: how to account for music as music, without losing a sense of its historical specificity. Continue reading
Black Feminism et Antiquité dans la pop-music
Ces dernières années, l’Antiquité classique s’est frayée un chemin dans tous les aspects des musiques pop et urbaines : les héros de l’Antiquité et l’architecture classique sont omniprésents dans les paroles, les clips ou sur scène. Ce sont notamment les chanteuses blanches qui se sont approprié des schémas hérités de l’histoire de l’art et du péplum : Katy Perry incarne Cléopâtre, Lady Gaga et Kylie Minogue se disputent Aphrodite… Dans un mouvement parallèle, on repère également de plus en plus fréquemment l’Antiquité dans la communication de chanteuses de couleur, où elle se charge souvent d’un message politique. C’est notamment le cas chez Solange Knowles avec son clip pour Don’t touch my hair, paru en octobre 2016 et à l’origine de mes réflexions sur la question (lire mon premier post sur la question ici).
Negotiating Machismo, ‘Exoticism’ and Feminism on the Dancefloor: Tango Argentino and Transcultural Encounters in the 20th and 21st Century (Review)
In the 20th century, tango argentino, Argentinean tango dancing, became a popular cultural practice in many metropolises all over the world. The image the broader public has of the traditional pair dancing style is, to a large degree, shaped by its depiction in mostly Western, but also Latin American popular culture. Movies such as Tango, no me dejes nunca [English title: Tango] (1998), Naked Tango (1998) and Scent of a Woman (1992) as well as celebrity dancing shows like Dancing with the Stars promote Argentinean tango as a highly sexualized, intimate and exotic dance oozing with stereotypical attributes of masculinity and femininity. In this sense, tango dancing can be fascinating and engaging, but may also be perceived as disreputable or discriminatory, and, thus, repelling. This tension makes for interesting and complicated characterizations of tango dancing, both when it first became a transnational phenomenon at the beginning of the 20th century and from a contemporary perspective. Continue reading
Research project: Estonian punk (1985-1995)
The first punk bands in the ESSR were established at the end of the 1970s. Punk was blacklisted in the ESSR, after youth riots erupted at a September 1980 concert of the punk band Propeller. During the first half of the 1980s the punk movement was small but steady in size. The punk’s main ways of expression were extravagant behaviour and clothes, organizing illegal concerts and social life in Tallinn’s cafés. Nevertheless, being a punk was socially frowned upon and meant problems with family, in school and in public where the youths were ofter arrested by the militsiya. Continue reading
Research Project: ENDZEITOPIA. Forever Celebrating The End. Post Punk, Goth and Avant Garde in East Germany (1982 – 1992)
The punk scene was in a deep existential crisis when post punk, new wave and goth music and fashion trends finally reached East Germany in the Orwellian year 1984. For the punk community in particular, the prevailing mood was indeed a dystopian one (Pehlemann, Papenfuβ, Mieβner, 2015). Punk was not dead (yet), but East German punk (no) future views increasingly contained a sense of pessimist fatalism, while goths escaped any kind of future scenario by playing already being dead. In any case, change was happening within the cultural underground which corresponded with a broader societal change and a spreading Endzeitstimmung (Wirsching, 2006) during the final phase of the Cold War. This ‘global’ existential fear, caused by political, societal and environmental crises, like nuclear threat, AIDS and environmental pollution (for example the ‘Waldsterben‘: dying forests) inspired both avant garde artists and participants in protest movements on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Workshop: “How to Write and Conceptualize the History of Youth Cultures” (Berlin, 30.6.-1.7.2016)
Initially, delinquency and crime provided the lens through which academics discussed youth culture. Studying deviant behaviour ensured that criminologists focused on questions of re-education and the relationship between the newly-branded ‘teenager’, delinquency and youth culture.With the emergence of Cultural Studies in Britain, ‘youth’ was interpreted in generational terms, through which a critical understanding of the changing nature of British society could be inferred. Across the academic landscape of historical studies, however, youth cultures tend to play but a minor role in general overviews and historical narratives of the history of European societies after 1945.
Lectures: Pophistory at the Institute of Historical Research (London, May & June 2016)
British pophistory is not just visible in London’s physical and cultural landscape. Upcoming events related to the history of pop culture at the Institute of Historical Research representing the long tradition of studying the everyday culture of people in Britain: Continue reading
Volume! Special Issue / numéro spécial “Beatles Studies”
Nearly half a century after Luciano Berio praised the Beatles in his ‘Commenti al Rock’ (1967), this special issue of Volume! surveys the research carried out on the band that was, according to John Lennon, ‘more popular than Jesus’. In light of an extensive bibliography covering the first 50 years of what we now call ‘Beatles Studies’, one learns, for example, that the British Invasion originated in Paris, that Popular Music Studies began with the musicological study of popular music, that the theory of harmonic vectors can help analyze pop music or that Marshall McLuhan’s concepts shed an interesting light on albums such as Abbey Road.