Date of Award
The thesis focuses on a number of specific interconnected cultural and musical trends throughout popular music in the United States, using both conventional analysis and statistical models to examine the impact of notable releases. It opens with a brief explanation of the statistical values and methods I will use throughout the thesis, including Spotify-obtained measurements, as well as a more abstract look into the transformative nature of music commodification, using selected works from Jacques Attali and Terre Thaemlitz as subject matter. The first main section examines the innovative songwriting and production styles surrounding 1960s pop music, the people behind them (particularly Phil Spector and Brian Wilson), and the links between the pressures of dedicating one’s life to the pursuit of commercially successful music and the well-documented personal struggles each musician faced during this time. The second section addresses larger trends in American popular music, including pre and post-9/11, examining how an event with massive cultural impact permeates and permanently reshapes popular culture. The third section explores how, through technological and societal advances, the methods that we share, consume, and create music have reflected changes in our culture. The concluding section brings together the findings of the first three sections and discusses the possible application of my methodology (bridging statistical analysis with the study of cultural context) to current experiences.
Hall, Ethan, "Follow the Sound: Tracking Forms of Commodification and Escapism in American Popular Music" (2020). Senior Theses. 1451.
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