Nothing Has Been Done Before Seeking the New in 21st Century American Popular Music

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-10-19
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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Is there such a thing today as music that's meaningfully new? Critics cry that "there's nothing new under the sun" while musicians, PR machines, and media outlets claim every product is new. Despite this, the topic of the new remains surprisingly unaddressed in contemporary criticism and scholarship about American popular music.

Nothing Has Been Done Before instigates a fresh debate about that music-rock 'n' roll, pop, folk, R&B, country, hip-hop-since the turn of the millennium: an era of repurposing, hyperconsumerism, and post-Web 2.0 technology. In prose accessible to educated general readers, the book follows the stories of a diverse cast of musicians as they seek the new, from the dusty roads of Bob Dylan's Love and Theft to the glamorous pop spectacle of the American Wow; from Kanye West's gilded techno-futurism to a Guided By Voices tribute concert in a local dive bar.

Nothing Has Been Done Before is a counter-orthodoxy to current music criticism and the perception of music as merely a product. Arguably what we consider "new" has been degraded or dismissed as a fantasy; either the new is merely code for what's trending, or, in certain postmodern circles, it's considered an unnecessary and impossible ideal. Nothing Has Been Done Before argues for a revitalized understanding of the new in popular music. Neither a jeremiad against nor a slick apologia for all things contemporary, the book claims that, indeed, nothing has been done before, but music must remind us-and we must remember.

Author Biography

Robert Loss is Assistant Professor in in English and Philosophy at Columbus College of Art and Design, USA.

Table of Contents

1. 1949, or Nothing Has Been Done Before
2. Three Versions of "Atlantic City"

PART ONE: Millennial Stitching and the Anxiety of Knowing Too Much
3. Wheel Inside a Wheel: Gillian Welch's Time (the Revelator)
4. "Love and Theft": Bob Dylan's Great Transgression
5. The Anxiety of Influence & Meta Rock: Archers of Loaf, the Wrens, and DBT
6. New Theories of Everything Prompted by Guided by Voices Appreciation Night

PART TWO: The American Wow
7. Spectaglam! Katy Perry, New Adults, and the American Wow
8. Meaning and Meat: Consumerism and Technology in Pop Music
9. The Unrepeatable New
10. Kanye West: Iconoclast
11. Power Up: Janelle Monae and Afrofuturism
12. You'll Never See My Face in Kansas City

PART THREE: Shouting at the Hard of Hearing
13. On the Good Side: Protest Music in the Bush Years
14. Renaissance of Love: Child Ballads, Apoliticism, and Suffering
15. The Dream of the United States and What It May Become: REM's "Driver 8"
16. Revival of Conscience: The New Hip-Hop
17. Bruce Springsteen Shouts at the Hard of Hearing
18. Female Bodies in the River: Tradition and "The Body Electric"

19. Nothing Has Been Done Before, Again

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