Review of Fabian Holt. 2007. Genre in Popular Music. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press

Keenan, Elizabeth K.

The concept of genre has often presented difficulties for popular music studies. Although discussions of genres and their boundaries frequently emerge from the ethnographic study of popular music, these studies often fail to theorize the category of genre itself, instead focusing on elements of style that demarcate a localized version of a particular genre. In contrast, studies focusing on genre itself often take a top-down, Adorno-inspired, culture-industry perspective, locating the concept within the marketing machinations of the major-label music industry. Both approaches have their limits, leaving open numerous questions about how genres form and change over time; how people employ the concept of genre in their musical practices-whether listening, purchasing, or performing; and how culture shapes our construction of genre categories. In Genre in Popular Music, Fabian Hold deftly integrates his theoretical model of genre into a series of ethnographic and historical case studies from both the center and the boundaries of popular music in the United States.


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August 18, 2022