The sound of Capitalism. Narratives of money in pop songs

2019 edition

Borja Du├▒├│

This research proposes the systematic and comparative study of the different narratives about money that appear as a recurring motif in pop songs. We understand pop music as a set of genres and styles that are part of the dominant music industry in the framework of Capitalism after second World War, mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom – the leading producers, exporters and consumers of this type of music.

The research is part of the tradition of pop music studies that traditionally have been carried out from fields such as sociology, anthropology, economics, history and music criticism, so our approach has to be interdisciplinary. Primary sources will be the songs – in the form of sound recordings – and secondary sources will be related audio-visual materials, press articles and literature.

The methodology is structured in three phases: first, a data collection from the main music charts of the United States of America (Billboard Hot 100) and the United Kingdom (Official Singles Chart) and the repertoires of the main artists of pop music (according to reference magazines as Rolling Stone and New Musical Express); Secondly, a textual, musical and performatic/visual analysis of the songs with the aim of identifying the various narratives; and, thirdly, an interpretative and comparative phase that would allow us to come to conclusions.

The objectives of the study are to establish how often money appears as the main topic in these songs, to determine what kind of narratives appear and detect its evolution and which are the tendencies of these narratives in each point of history. The hypothesis is that although pop is a music perfectly inscribed within the capitalism system, its narratives are ideologically diverse and will express different forms of power relations that have to do with issues such as social class, sex or skin color. We think that this work will bring a new point of view on pop history which can offer some useful conclusions for later cultural, social or anthropological studies related to youth, music, capitalism and mass consumption.