The Poetry Of Pop by Adam BradleyThe Poetry Of Pop by Adam Bradley

The Poetry Of Pop

byAdam Bradley

Hardcover | March 28, 2017

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From Tin Pan Alley to the Beatles to Beyoncé, "Mr. Bradley skillfully breaks down a century of standards and pop songs into their elements to reveal the interaction of craft and art in composition and performance.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Encompassing a century of recorded music, this pathbreaking book reveals the poetic artistry of popular songs. Pop songs are music first. They also comprise the most widely disseminated poetic expression of our time. Adam Bradley traces the song lyric across musical genres from early twentieth-century Delta blues to mid-century rock 'n’ roll to today’s hits. George and Ira Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm.” The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” These songs are united in their exacting attention to the craft of language and sound. Bradley shows that pop music is a poetry that must be heard more than read, uncovering the rhythms, rhymes, and metaphors expressed in the singing voice. At once a work of musical interpretation, cultural analysis, literary criticism, and personal storytelling, this book illustrates how words and music come together to produce compelling poetry, often where we least expect it.
Adam Bradley is professor of English and founding director of the Laboratory for Race & Popular Culture (RAP Lab) at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop and coeditor of The Anthology of Rap.
Title:The Poetry Of PopFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:424 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.12 inShipping dimensions:9.25 × 6.12 × 1.12 inPublished:March 28, 2017Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300165021

ISBN - 13:9780300165029


From the Author

Why study the poetry of pop music?   You could go a lifetime without thinking about why pop songs do the things they do with words and music. Many of us do. But if you’re the kind of person who takes pleasure in figuring out how things work, then the poetry of pop is for you. We should aim to take pop seriously without being too serious about it. That’s why the goal of my book is to preserve the pleasure of pop while training our attention on the words that inhabit the melodies and the melodies that inhabit the words.   Is all pop music poetry?   All pop is poetry, but not all pop songs are good poems. Usually when you hear a pop artist—say, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen—labeled a poet it’s meant as an honorific. That’s not how I’m using the term. Song lyrics are poetry simply because they are made of much the same stuff as page-born poems and respond to many of the same habits of appreciation and analysis.   Who are the most under-appreciated pop musician poets?   Some songwriters write lyrics that can masquerade convincingly as poems for the page. You can sit down with some Joni Mitchell lyrics, some Stevie Wonder lyrics and be quite satisfied. The revelation for me in writing this book has been in how much I’ve come to appreciate the craft of those song lyrics that are more dependent on their music—say, the little bit of difference that makes the incessant repetition at the end of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” not just tolerable but sublime. Sometimes the originality and skill of a lyric’s poetry is only apparent in performance. Praise for The Anthology of Rap: "An English major's hip-hop bible, an impossible fusion of street cred and book learning. . . . Reading [it] was the most fun I've had with a book in many months."—Sam Anderson, New York Magazine "As ambitious and intelligent as anyone might want, and more enjoyable than anyone might think. . . . If you want to hear how the latter part of the twentieth century sounded, you can't do better than this book."—Kevin Young, Bookforum "[The] editors of The Anthology of Rap supply a much needed injection of energy and enthusiasm into our analysis of hip-hop's lyricism."—Quentin B. Huff, PopMatters

Editorial Reviews

"Bradley skillfully breaks down a century of standards and pop songs into their elements to reveal the interaction of craft and art in composition and performance."—Dominic Green, Wall Street Journal"Adam Bradley is unafraid to blur the boundaries . . . he can be warm and insightful. He highlights differences between modern poetry and pop music by arguing that if you showed an ancient Greek or an Elizabethan Ashberry’s poem 'by an Earthquake' alongside Taylor Swift’s 'Blank Space,' the time travellers would identify the neatly rhyming Swift as the poet."—Victoria Segal, Sunday Times (London)"A sort of readers’ manual for pop, calmly taking the reader through the different aspects of analysing songs, and thereby appreciating them better. . . . What elevates The Poetry of Pop, though, is the continuous animating presence of Bradley’s humour, intelligence and eye for detail. . . . I have never read a smarter, clearer or more compelling guide to reading poetry."—Tim Smith-Laing, Daily Telegraph"Bradley deploys a formidable set of skills. He has an acute ear, dazzling command of seemingly the entire history of pop and a pleasingly wide range of taste, drawing on examples from Gershwin to Guns 'n' Roses to make his points. His prose has precision and clarity when discussing even the most recondite of literary terms. As with all good teachers, his passion for his subject animates his writing and makes his enthusiasm nearly communicable."—Michael Lindgren, Washington Post"Having wrestled with the poetics of rap and hip-hop in his earlier tomes, Bradley here buckles the reader into place for a trip through the myriad effects of pop. . . . Along the way, the language of serious poetry criticism is put to engaging use . . . [and] makes for some interesting insights."—Dickon Edwards, The Wire“I’m not sure what to call The Poetry of Pop, beyond superb.”—Kevin Dettmar, American Literary History"Author Adam Bradley finds the poetry in a century of popular music, from the tunes and lyrics of Bob Dylan and Rihanna to Beyoncé and the Beatles."—Parade magazine“I’m not sure what to call The Poetry of Pop, beyond superb. . . . [The book] is a towering achievement: it provides a structure and a wealth of rich, close readings to make us all better critics of rock and pop. All those trying to do that work owe Bradley a great debt.”—Kevin Dettmar, American Literary History"This book mounts a powerful defense of pop music’s artistry. Bradley’s book is filled with provocative claims, offered clearly, intelligently, and persuasively."—David Caplan, Ohio Wesleyan University"Adam Bradley ingeniously unknots an argument ongoing since the first listener spun down the AM dial in search of the right song: what is the relationship between the words and notes in pop music? With accessible virtuosity, Bradley examines pop music’s motifs and lyric gestures in new and wholly unexpected ways. This superb book is a must for all of us who love the language of music and are moved as much by the lyrics as by the guitar solos."—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke"Idiosyncratic and infuriating, refusing systems and standards, this mad little book is irreplaceable for its appendices alone."—Stephin Merritt, The Magnetic Fields"A groundbreaking study. Its critical mélange of literary criticism, musicology, neuroscience, and songwriters is especially apt, imaginative, and noteworthy."—Anthony Bolden, University of Kansas