Session/Séance 4d: IASPM Panel 1 Belonging in Music Videos and Movie Soundtracks

Session/Séance 4d: IASPM Panel 1 Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 9:00AM-10:30AM, EJB 330.
Belonging in Music Videos and Movie Soundtracks
     Moderator: SUSAN FAST (McMaster University)

1. Elmer Bernstein, Norman Gimbel, Meet Disco Duck
     Peter Urquhart, Wilfrid Laurier University

While the direct connections between the music industry and Hollywood predate the conversion to sound at the end of the 1920s (chiefly via sheet music sales), this relationship saw an exceptional flowering in the 1970s, with movie soundtrack albums from Grease (Kleiser, 1978) and Saturday Night Fever (Badham, 1977), as just two representative examples, utterly dominating the charts. The synergies between music and film were obvious and ascendant in this period, and this paper examines the soundtrack album of the Canadian film Meatballs (Reitman, 1979) in this context of synergistic ascendance. Trained as a musician, and on the heels of successfully producing the huge Hollywood hit Animal House (Landis, 1978), Ivan Reitman understood and fully exploited the relationship between music sales and making hit films. Along with producer Danny Goldberg, they calculatedly created a soundtrack album that would contain an element of “old Hollywood” (by hiring Academy Award winning composer Elmer Bernstein to compose the score) and acquired songs they felt had a chance of “hitting” in order to increase audience for their summer-camp comedy film. Using both personal interviews with Goldberg and Reitman and industry discourse, this proposed paper examines the Meatballs soundtrack album as a popular artifact of the late 1970s and as exemplary of the synergies evident at that time between the music industry and Hollywood.

Keywords: music industry, Hollywood, pop culture industrial synergies, Bill Murray

2. Warp’s Music Videos: Affective Communities, Genre, and Gender in Electronic/Dance Music’s Visual Aesthetic
     Mimi Haddon, University of Portsmouth / University of London

This paper focuses on the videos on the “Warp Vision” DVD from 1989 to 2004, as well as archival sources and interviews with Warp’s management and creatives, to provide an overview of the history of Warp’s music videos, and to interrogate the videos’ generic and social identity. The paper is interdisciplinary in approach, combining methods from popular music studies, film studies, and production studies throughout, and is divided into three sections. The first section is concerned with the conditions for the emergence of Warp’s music videos, arguing their emergence has been the result of connections made through informal networks and “affective alliances” (Grossberg 1984). In the second section I discuss the musical and visual aesthetics of Warp’s videos, examining the extent to which Warp can be considered to have a “house style.” I respond to work by both Carol Vernallis (2013) and David Brackett (2005; 2015) to argue that any identifiable “house style” in Warp’s videos is related to issues of genre and identity. In the final section, I explore questions of genre and identity in more detail, seeking to problematise the appearance of Warp as an electronic/dance music-heavy, male-centric label. I do so by looking more closely at the interplay between the micro- and macro socialities of cultural practice and experience (Born 2011: 376). I therefore look at the production process of Warp’s videos at the micro social level, specifically concerning gendered labour and collaborative creativity. My hope is to hold in productive tension Warp’s rich and diverse history as a label and place of work, and the more reified impression of Warp as a label associated with a predominantly white male demographic and a particular genre of popular music.

Keywords: music video, genre, gender, electronic/dance music, Warp

3. Sailing Through the Internet with Lil Yachty
     Kristopher R.K. Ohlendorf, Western University

In less than a year, Lil Yachty (born in 1997) went from recording music in his bedroom in Atlanta to acting as a strong generational voice for an emerging youth. This paper explores the role of the Internet in Lil Yachty’s rise to cultural prominence. Lil Yachty initially gained attention in online rap communities in late 2015 and his career skyrocketed after Lil Boat the Mixtape was released in early 2016. By the end of the year, he had released two mixtapes, was featured on a #5 Billboard Hot 100 hit, and appeared in a Sprite commercial with LeBron James. Lil Yachty proclaims himself the “King of the Teens,” and the last song on his mixtape Summer Songs Part II features voice recordings of teenage fans confessing the considerable positive impact that his music has had on their lives. In the chorus, Lil Yachty himself croons, “So many people ask me how I do it,” to which he admits, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” This paper aims to clear up Lil Yachty’s confusion. I look explicitly at how the Internet has influenced Lil Yachty’s career. His music has been described as “post-regionalist” in how it inhibits digital spaces more than physical ones. Consequently, Lil Yachty acts as a voice for a highly geographically dispersed yet technologically connected generation. I analyze and discuss the role of the Internet in how it strongly influenced both Lil Yachty’s music as well as how his fans relate and understand themselves within it online. This paper concludes by further examining how Lil Yachty acts as a seminal example of the Internet’s aesthetic influence on popular music as well as a means to understand how an emerging Internet-bred generation of music fans creates a sense of belonging online.

Keywords: hip-hop, cloud rap, the internet, online culture, millennials

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