Hearing Luxe Pop explores a deluxe-production aesthetic that has long thrived in American popular music, in which popular-music idioms are merged with lush string orchestrations and big-band instrumentation. John Howland presents an alternative music history that centers on shifts in timbre and sound through innovative uses of orchestration and arranging, traveling from symphonic jazz to the Great American Songbook, the teenage symphonies of Motown to the “countrypolitan” sound of Nashville, the sunshine pop of the Beach Boys to the blending of soul and funk into 1970s disco, and Jay-Z’s hip-hop-orchestra events to indie rock bands performing with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. This book attunes readers to hear the discourses gathered around the music and its associated images as it examines pop’s relations to aspirational consumer culture, theatricality, sophistication, cosmopolitanism, and glamorous lifestyles.
Hearing Luxe Pop Glorification, Glamour, and the Middlebrow in American Popular Music
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Publication of this book was supported in part by a grant from the H. Earle Johnson Fund of the Society for American Music.