This is a guest post by Monica Lee and Dan Silver. Monica is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology and Harper Dissertation Fellow at the University of Chicago. Dan is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He received his PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.
For the past few months, we’ve been doing some research on musical genres and musical unconventionality. We’re presenting it at a conference soon and hope to get some initial feedback on the work.
This project is inspired by the Boss, rock legend Bruce Springsteen. During his keynote speech at the 2012 South-by-Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX, Springsteen reflected on the potentially changing role of genre classifications for musicians. In Springsteen’s youth, “there wasn’t much music to play. When I picked up the guitar, there was only ten years of Rock history to draw on.” Now, “no one really hardly agrees on anything in pop anymore.” That American popular music lacks a center is evident in a massive proliferation in genre classifications:
“There are so many sub–genres and fashions, two–tone, acid rock, alternative dance, alternative metal, alternative rock, art punk, art rock, avant garde metal, black metal, Christian metal, heavy metal, funk metal, bland metal, medieval metal, indie metal, melodic death metal, melodic black metal, metal core…psychedelic rock, punk rock, hip hop, rap rock, rap metal, Nintendo core [he goes on for quite a while]… Just add neo– and post– to everything I said, and mention them all again. Yeah, and rock & roll.”