Too Much Too Young: Popular Music Age and Gender

Too Much Too Young: Popular Music Age and Gender

Sheila Whiteley

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 0415310288

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Too Much Too Young investigates how age and gender have shaped the careers and images of pop music stars, examining the role of youth and youthfulness in pop music through a series of themed case studies.

Whiteley begins by investigating the exploitation of child stars such as Brenda Lee and Michael Jackson, offering a psychoanalytic reading of the relationship between child star and oppressive manager, and looks at the current glut of boy- and girl- bands and stars in the mold of Britney Spears to examine the continuing fatal attraction of stardom for adolescents.

Whiteley then considers the star images of female singer-songwriters Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Bjork, whose 'little girl' voices and characterization by the media suggests a girlish feminitity which is often at odds with the intentions of their musical output. She then moves on to explore the rock/pop divide as it affects the image of male performers, considering why male stars usually fall into the category of 'wild boys' such as Kurt Cobain or Jim Morrison, or 'nice boys', like Cliff Richard, The Monkees, and Wham!

Whiteley ends by asking what happens to stars who set so much store by manipulations of youthfulness when they begin to age, and points to stars like Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue and Cher to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve iconic pop status even without dying young.

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make-believe play which draws on the erotic potential of her 15-year-old body. It is this tension between what might be termed an image of imagined childhood and the hidden and problematic perversity of child sexuality that characterises much of contemporary thinking1 about the separate and potentially problematic nature of children. Not least, they do not know the difference between good and evil, only between nice and nasty. S/he is good if s/he does not do anything bad. The ideal of children

performance by Britney Spears2 and its comparison with Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ (1984), itself contextualised by her earlier involvement in soft-porn.3 In contrast, the conflation of girl with babe, baby and mama which has it origins in the blues, informs the sexually knowledgeable exchange between Janis Joplin and her audience in her late 1960s’ live performance of ‘Tell Mama’ If you’re a woman I can only assume you know what you are looking for … I know what you’re looking for, and I figured

poetry, photography and music. Kate, herself, was an avid reader and had taught herself piano at the age of 11. Her musical precociousness is evidenced by the demo tape of ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ (which had been professionally produced for EMI by Gilmour), and was one of two included on The Kick Inside. As a physically attractive woman, her self-awareness was, however, less well-developed. EMI’s promotional poster showed Bush in a tight, sleeveless shirt that emphasised her breasts

popular and folk) has both influenced their own writing while exerting a pressure for excellence (in production, orchestration and arranging). What is evident here is that all three were sufficiently mature to accept the guidance of their early mentors (Kate Bush with Dave Gilmour and Peter Gabriel, Tori Amos with Cindy Palmano – who made many of her videos – and Eric Rosse, whose passion for unusual sound effects created a sympathetic atmosphere for her songs on Under the Pink; Björk with Nellee

an LSD experience and will in some circumstances produce a mystical or ecstatic sexual union which may seem endless. (1969, 130) Thus, while Manzarek and Morrison never discussed the details of their LSD trips (Manzarek, 1999, 123), the shared knowledge of hallucinogenic experience is evident in the trance-like feel of the music. While this is reflected most specifically in the extended solo, it is also suggested that Manzarek’s obsessive noodling around the circle of fifths equally provides a

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