Digital Journal for Philology
Sonderausgabe # 5 (2.2021)
How is Pop music political? The genre’s diverse audience, its reach and creativity make Pop music an equally well-fitted medium for critique and subversion as well as for propaganda and populism. The lines, however, are often blurry. This issue seeks to investigate this spectrum Pop music offers to take a look at the ›political poetics‹ of the genre. Primarily, the articles collected adress issues of style, rhetorics and poetics of ›the‹ political in Pop music. In particular, the articles focus on Pop music’s ability to create identities and political entities, Nationality, ›Heimat‹, Gender, ›Gemeinschaft‹ to name a few. Pop music has indeed a ›natural‹ inclination towards discussing and constructing ›identities‹, the articles of this issue mainly revolve around a specific set of questions: How does Pop music draw from and engage with feminist concepts, with deconstruction and critique? How does it deal with, benefit from, or portray topics such as antisemitism, sexism and racism?
Pop music’s political dimension can be explicitly discussed and negotiated in an ›engaged‹ way: For example, bands like Feine Sahne Fischfilet are not just entertaining their fans, they are clearly communicating political positions and attitudes. However, pop music can address the political more implicitly by performing the processes of social negotiation itself. In this case, pop deals with questions of identity and sexual coding, while making political actors and problems visible and audible. In this introduction, the divergent sites of negotiation in pop are taken into account and analysed regarding their function for the political.
Up to this date, the relation between pop music and German Schlager remains unclarified and charged with bias. Since aesthetic judgment cannot be avoided, the paper will take as its starting point the author’s personal judgment and seek to substantiate its argumentative core in historical and systematical perspectives. Schlager and pop, thus, turn out to be part of the same paradigmatical structure, both sharing components of entertainment and existential offers. So, can we rightfully speak of Schlager as the evil in the system of pop?
In the noughties, German-language indie pop groups increasingly made use of the manifesto. Groups like Tocotronic and Ja, Panik inscribed themselves fairly eagerly into the genealogy of the avant-gardes via the manifesto as a political genre. There exists a dearth of pop-feminist manifestos in German-speaking countries, constituting a conspicuous gap in the discourse. This article highlights this contradiction by focusing on two texts written by the pop feminists Kerstin and Sandra Grether, contextualizing them within the early 2000s’ cultural discourses.
Although Feine Sahne Fischfilet understand themselves as ›left‹ and Frei.Wild position themselves as ›right‹ on the political spectrum, they both rely on topoi from the German ›Heimat‹-discourse by modelling positively-connotated concepts of ancestry and belonging.
This article shows how both bands create different models of the political using a shared discursive material.
This article explores the relationship between ambiguity and political messaging in rap lyrics. Stubenrauch’s novel approach to political messaging in rap lyrics pays particular attention to the proximity of ambiguity to political points of reference, thus reconstructing the historical and semantic dimensions of rap music. This proximity is the motivation for different attitudes in rap reception that classify playful subversive tendencies emphatically as ‘political,’ while devaluing unambiguous subversive tendencies as ›dangerous‹. Stubenrauch’s analysis of such valuations and of the ambiguising strategies in the work of rapper Kollegah considers the rhetorical and visual transformations beginning with the Hoodtales-series to the end-time scenarios Armageddon and Apokalypse, discussing the connection between ambiguity, political pop, and taboos of memory politics.
Due to the latest album by K.I.Z Rap über Hass (2021), hate in rap is increasingly discussed not only within HipHop, but also in the feature sections of national German-language newspapers. This raises the question of whether this hate is new and what function it takes on. And is this what is called hate in rap and made productive hate at all or rather anger? In order to answer these questions, I will examine where rap comes from, why it is genuinely political, and what connection exist between rap, the political, and hate in general. Based on some German-language rap songs, it will be shown that hate as an existential feeling has, among other things, a cross-border effect and can thus be used, for example, affirmatively, to direct attention and for demarcation.
In the second episode of our podcast »Philology under Discussion«, Immanuel Nover (Koblenz-Landau) and Kerstin Wilhelms (Münster) discuss the political dimension of pop music, addressing questions raised by the current special issue »The Sound of Germany« and discuss the German rapper Sookee and the rap-collective 187 Strassenbande. By putting these two side-by-side, Nover and Wilhelms read the political as a process of social negotiation, which considers the songs’ lyrical content but also the specific aesthetic techniques and processes that constitute their form.