Poetry of Pop

"Music's Biggest Night" is coming up later this month, so this week's review breaks down the intricacies and (perhaps) surprising depth behind popular music

The Poetry of Pop

Bradley, Adam. Yale, 2017
414p index, 9780300165029 $32.50, 9780300165722

The Poetry of Pop book cover. Vinyl records cover the floor. Book title and author name in neon red and blue, respectively.

Already acclaimed for his studies of lyrics in rap and hip-hop, Bradley (English, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) expands his scholarly focus here to include the lyrics of various kinds of popular songs dating all the way from the early 20th century to the present. He delves into how song lyrics affect people’s reactions to and appreciation of songs. Considering such things as whether a certain song’s poetry can stand alone or makes sense only if heard in musical context, he ventures into territory that music scholars might not consider. Bradley is clearly familiar with a wide variety of popular repertory, and he subjects examples of its poetry to the kind of literary analysis that is not often accorded to popular music, revealing more depth than casual observers might expect. In the process of investigating the poetry, he also provides an insightful study of the culture that evoked it. A valuable book for those interested in music or popular culture.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.
Reviewer: D. Arnold, University of North Texas
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Music
Choice Issue: Sep 2017