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Popular Music and Contemporary U.S. Culture

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Music in Different Cultures
Popular Music and Contemporary U.S. Culture

Popular Music in its Many Facets In its broadest sense, popular music is an umbrella term referring to a vast range of commercially mass-marketed musical genres contrasting with classical or art music and intended for mass consumption (e.g., rock, rock and roll, hip-hop, grunge, heavy metal, rhythm and blues, punk, soul, techno, funk, rap, house). This wide-ranging term encompasses a plethora of musical styles involving various rhythms, vocal styles, instruments, and technologies. Characteristically, popular music is a global cultural phenomenon and an accessible form of commercial music aimed at a worldwide audience. Traditionally, British and American forms of popular music have tended to dominate the industry. Corresponding to social, economic, and technological change, popular music is intimately linked to the identity of musicians, performers, or artists, as well as audiences and fans. Popular music is ubiquitous; from shopping malls and advertising to gymnasiums/fitness classes and political campaigns, popular music is a common feature of people's everyday lives and a significant aspect of consumer culture. For fans and enthusiasts, popular music can be a leisure-time pursuit occurring on evenings or weekends; alternatively, it can constitute a lifestyle, or way of life (e.g., Deadheads—a group of fans of the American band Grateful Dead who saw the band at as many gigs and festivals as possible from the 1970s onward). For many people, the consumption of popular music is a significant means of identification, affiliation, and belonging. Different forms of popular music can create pleasure and excitement for some and moral panic and dread for others; it is a much debated and important realm of cultural life with significant implications for our...

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