;

popular culture



  • The Case for Blondie as the Sound of the 70s

    by Kevin Dettmar

    While the decade's pop scene was undeniably eclectic, there's an argument to be made that the New York group was at the center of the most lasting trends of the 1970s. 



  • Who Gets to Sing About Revenge in Pop Music?

    by Jewel Wicker

    Do the racial politics of musical genre explain why songs about revenge are celebrated in country music and turned into evidence for the prosecution against hip hop artists (even when the songs in question are fiction)?



  • Stax Records Co-Founder Jim Stewart Dies at 92

    Stewart's label in its heyday trailed only Motown Records as a purveyor of soul music, and the label's house bands created a distinctive and enduring style associated with Memphis. 



  • Stevie Wonder's "Talking Book" at 50

    Musical collaborators and artists later influenced by Stevie Wonder's declaration of musical independence explain the album's creation and impact. 



  • Lizzo Talks About the Flute

    The pop superstar touches on numerous subjects, including making history belong to everyone and the historical relationship of racist and sexist stereotyping of Black women's performances looking back to Josephine Baker. 



  • What Lizzo Can Teach the Right about History

    Commentator Mona Charen writes that Lizzo's embrace of an artifact of the founding generation should be welcomed by conservatives, who claim to stand for a history shared by all Americans without regard for identity. 



  • How True is the History in "The Woman King"?

    "'The Woman King' chooses to make resistance to slavery its moral compass, then misrepresents a kingdom that trafficked tens of thousands as a vanguard in the struggle against it."


  • Songs for Sale: Tin Pan Alley (Excerpt)

    by Bob Stanley

    American popular music didn't start with Elvis. It emerged when musical fads onstage converged with a new mass market for in-home record players to make song publishing big business. 



  • "Rings of Power" Speaks to a War-Hungry Audience

    by Daniel Bessner

    Inspired by Tolkien's experiences in the Great War, his fantasy books have been taken as allegories for the fight against Nazism, the Cold War, and the War on Terror. The new series reflects the anxieties of an American empire with neither a clear enemy nor the imagination to abandon militarism. 



  • Eve Babitz's Archive Reveals the Person Behind the Persona

    by Kevin Dettmar

    "What could the personal documents of a writer who was so public about her private world teach us about her work? How much of that persona was a performance and how much a reflection of her real anxieties and ambitions?"



  • "Bridgerton" and Its Blind Spot for Colonialist History

    by Trishula Patel

    In nodding to contemporary British diversity by casting actors of color in roles originally written as "white," the program misses the bigger opportunity to examine the histories of colonialism that brought people of Indian and African descent to Britain during the Regency period.