Pop Music and Global Culture

Posted: November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

Since the emergence of pop music more than a half century ago, the industry has been dominated by Anglo-American products, leading to widespread criticism of “cultural imperialism”. Since the explosion of the Web, however, the dynamics of global music creation and consumption have changed significantly as pop stars depend increasingly on concert revenues while fans download music for free on the Internet. But even before the Web, the global flow of pop music was a complex phenomenon, both culturally and commercially.

A decade ago, the same week as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Time magazine published a cover story titled “Music Goes Global”. The MTV music channel is often regarded as a vehicle for globalization. See this article from 2002: “MTV’s World“. And for a general background on the history of pop music from its origins to the digital age, see this series on the BBC website, “The Global Music Machine

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A number of notable books and academic papers have been published on the global pop music industry. See for example this paper published in 2010: “Pop Internationalism: Has Half a Century of World Music Trade Displaced Local Culture?” And this paper by Martin Stokes: “Music and the Global Order“.

A great deal has been written about pop music trends emerging from the non-Anglo-American world, from Africa and South America to India and Japan. Below is a non-exhaustive selection of articles on the origins and impact of non-Anglo-American pop music currents.

Capture d’écran 2013-11-05 à 19.37.14On Japanese pop music, this a series of articles here on the J-Pop industry. On Korean pop music, see this article in Time magazine: “Korean Pop, with Online Help, Goes Global”. This article in the Guardian, “Bhangra Spreads Its Empire”, describes the “bhangra” pop music phenomenon, combining music influences from India and British pop. For another article on bhangra pop see here: “The Big Bhangra“.  In Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive a car, the influence of Western music has inspired all-girl pop bands, including one called The Accolade. See this article in the New York TiImes: “As Taboos Ease, Saudi Girl Group Dares to Rock“, and this interview with The Accolade on the NPR site. The popularity of “rai” music in Arab north Africa has come in to conflict with Islamic leaders. Rai is also tremendously popular in France with its large Arab immigrant population. For a general background article on rai, see a Wikipedia entry here. See also this article in the New York Times, “Arab speaking pop stars spread the joy”. American rap music has had an influence on local musical cultures in many countries. See this article “Hip Hop Goes Global” as well as this radio piece on NPR on “Hip Hop’s Gloal Reach”. For a book on hip hop’s global influence, see Tony Mitchell’s Global Noise: Rap and Hip Hop Outside the United States.


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