Good booty : love and sex, black & white, body and soul in American music

by Powers, Ann, 1964-

Format: Print Book 2017
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Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 781.64 POW 2017
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Call Number  781.64 POW 2017
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NPR Best Books of 2017

In this sweeping history of popular music in the United States, NPR's acclaimed music critic examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America's primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from nineteenth-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-twentieth century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today's web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans, and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism--not merely sex, but love, bodily freedom, and liberating joy--became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America's anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth, and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect--a magnum opus over two decades in the making--Powers offers new insights into our nation psyche and our soul.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* The appropriation of other cultures is nothing new in America. Despite the stigma of racial mixing, white society observed African Americans slaves, white musicians adapted African American musical styles, and, subsequently, Americans commingled on the dance floor hence, the inevitable blending of cultures. The introduction of the hootchy-kootch, an exotic and erotic belly dance (basically a white interpretation of the perceived exoticism of the other) at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, further assisted in the loosening of American hips, aiding in the disruption of propriety and hastening the relaxing of social customs. All of these forces come into play in NPR music critic Powers' informative and entertaining analysis of the roots of sex and race in American popular music. Tracking popular music from New Orleans' Congo Square through the blues queens, early rockers like Elvis and (of course) Little Richard, on through the sixties of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, and all the way to Madonna, Michael, Prince, and Beyoncé, Powers reveals an extraordinary breadth of knowledge and insight and has produced an absolutely essential addition to any pop-culture collection.--Segedin, Ben Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In her ambitious history of American pop music, NPR critic and correspondent Powers delves into a diverse range of music forms including Creole love songs and tracks to twerk to on MTV. Above all, Powers (Weird like Us) embraces the profound, and often illicit, influence African-American music had on mainstream culture. Beginning her book in early 19th-century New Orleans, Powers examines the exotic appeal of the city's diverse cultures on the divided nation that absorbed it. From there she speeds through two centuries of music including ragtime, gospel, R&B, rock and roll, punk, disco, and hip-hop, focusing on artists and genres that transformed the way people move on the dance floor and in the bedroom. The sweeping themes and expansive time span make for a daunting endeavor, one that Powers further complicates by tackling big related topics such as marriage and the internet. Broad overviews of musical eras highlight important artists, some well-known (Elvis, Hendrix, Madonna, Beyoncé), others less so (Florence Mills, Dorothy Love Coates, Tribe 8). Powers alternates between basic Wikipedia-level historiography and academic theorizing, focusing on the interchanges between song, identity, and the body. Powers's inevitable neglect of dominant genres (swing-era jazz) and essential figures (James Brown) exposes the impossibility of her undertaking. Still, as an introduction to the racially and sexually charged legacy of pop music in the U.S., this book is well worth a spin. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Popular music -- United States -- History and criticism.
Music -- Social aspects -- United States -- History and criticism.
Publisher New York, NY :2017
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xxvi, 418 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 357-384) and index.
ISBN 9780062463692
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