Tag Archives: Social class

Why ladies love country boys

The emergence of a strikingly cohesive set of gender narratives on country radio in the late 2000s and early 2010s can be linked to the impact of globalization and economic crisis during those years.

In redneck-blueblood anthems, the country boy wins over the wealthy, cosmopolitan woman despite her material success and his limited economic and social prospects. This popular narrative extends the long-standing tradition in which down-home country masculinity is defined partly through its relationship to the character of the upwardly mobile woman who has moved from working-class to middle- or upper-class status.

Whereas some critics view country culture as articulating a form of working-class male abjection or degradation, the redneck-blueblood songs provide a narrative of success that directly reclaims the value of working-class masculinity. This narrative resonates with audiences confronting intensely threatening economic and social dislocation in the global economy.

This according to “Why ladies love country boys: Gender, class, and economics in contemporary country music” by Jocelyn R. Neal, an essay included in Country boys and redneck women: New essays in gender and country music (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2016, pp. 3–25).

Above, a screen shot from Trace Adkins’s Ladies love country boys; below, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s Remind me. Both songs serve as case studies in the article.

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Filed under Popular music

Karaoke and class

Karaoke challenges the hegemony of the status quo by breaking down the received rules of cultural production and challenging binary notions of high vs. low art, live vs. recorded performance, and amateur vs. professional performers.

In so doing, karaoke engenders liveness anxiety—a territorial behavior among social critics, scholars, and performers that comprises a fear of performances that do not fit the template dictated by the wielders of cultural power. Karaoke is a viable site for mounting a lower-class defense against the onslaught of cultural elites; and its multibillion-dollar industry continues to grow every year.

This according to “Liveness anxiety: Karaoke and the performance of class” by Kevin Brown (Popular entertainment studies I/2 [2010], pp. 61–77). Thanks to the Improbable Research blog for bringing this article to our attention!

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Filed under Performance practice, Popular music, Reception