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Issues in popular music

1) Choose a particular artist or band and discuss the ways in which their music/lyrics/image resist or
reinforce stereotypes (of race, gender, sexuality, etc).
2) Interrogate the branding of a particular artist or group. (Issues could include commercialization,
industry control, changes throughout their career, authenticity, etc).
3) Discuss multiple versions of a song (through covering, sampling, etc.), and interrogate changes to
the song’s meaning in its different contexts.
4) Discuss a song/artist/genre within the context of globalization.
5) Interrogate gender representations in music videos (focus on a specific genre, artist, or even time
6) Explore the ways in which a particular artist or band has supported a political ideal or discussed
political issues via their music.
7) Discuss the association of a specific musical genre with a subculture.
8) Discuss the issue of race in the context of a specific musical movement or genre (e.g. rap music,
50s and 60s crossover, 80s crossover, jazz, etc.).
9) Discuss the effect of technology on popular music production OR reception
Please choose one of the following topics as a starting point in developing a critical argument. You will
notice that these topics are broad enough to allow you to focus on music that you are interested in as
well as formulate a critical argument of your own. Your paper should reference at least one theory
discussed in the readings. I strongly encourage discussion about the music (for example, characteristics
of a particular genre, how an artist adheres to or deviates from conventions of the genre, etc).
You must cite at least four sources, not including the textbooks (although you may also cite them). Two
of these must be scholarly sources and the remaining two can be either scholarly or journalistic. Use one
of the following citation styles: Chicago or APA. In-text citations or footnotes are required as well as a
The paper is to be between six and seven pages long, double spaced, 12-point font Times New Roman
(not including lyrics, examples, bibliography, etc). Do not add extra space between paragraphs. The
paper must be single-sided.


Last Updated on February 10, 2019

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