…is short for Unpopular Popular Music, which I wrote about in my recently completed dissertation for the University of Iowa Department of American Studies. The term refers to music (folk music, punk rock, rock and roll as it is remembered if not as it was) that is distinguished in the popular marketplace by the understanding that it is somehow apart from or transcendent of market imperatives. Its the quality of realness, and is also dominant paradigm for the rhetorical relation between pop music and the market for most of the last half of the Twentieth Century so much so that its obverse–a loud and proud and only slightly ironic fakeness—is sometimes hailed as an even more dramatic expression of authenticity in that it honestly admits the difficulties of claiming such a status.
I will be exploring unpop and other themes and ideas (mostly) from my dissertation, Crossover Narratives: Race, Genre, and Unpopular Popular Music in this space. I want it to use this space to present my professional work, but also for working through ideas and talking out loud. Most of those ideas will be related, broadly speaking, to U.S. pop and vernacular music making, or to the South, or both.