An article on pop songs as monological

Here is an article that was recently published in the magazine Berfrois. It argues that pop music is monological, unlike novels which tend to be heterglossic. The argument concerns the different voices you get in the book or song, and how these voices interact. the argument in Lima’s article is that pop music tends to be monological, and even where there is some dialogue it tends to take one narrative perspective so is only actually one voice. I’m not sure i can agree with this though. Quite a few songs get into more genuine and contradictory dialogue. Think of ‘Fairytale of New York’, or even johnny Cash and June Carter Cash singing ‘Jackson’. Definitely multiple perspectives are layered in these songs (even though ‘fairylike of new york’ is Shane McGowan’s characters memories). But generally pop can be heterroglossia, with contradictions and competing perspectives littering ironic and playful lyrics. Im thinking of hip hop clans interjections with each other, rap battles, punk’s posturing and sarcasm, self doubt in soul, and even songs where perspectives change within the narrative itself (thus the monologue becomes dialogical or heterglossic). As an example of this last instance we could listen to Burt Bacharach’s ‘I just don’t know what to do with myself’. So there are some alternative examples, but of course Lima’s general observation works.

This entry was posted in cultural theory, music and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s