I was in Seattle a week and a half ago for my first EMP Pop Conference ever. Pop Con is an amazing annual gathering of popular music scholars, music critics, musicians, and music nerds of all kinds. Our theme for the long weekend was Sign O’ The Times, a tribute to Prince’s passing one year ago on April 21st and a recognition that his 1987 album of the same name—and the social and political issues that it addresses—continues to resonate 30 years later. Panel after panel, we asked: What if we take popular music seriously as a repository for the affects (both emotions and literally felt experiences) of specific historical moments? What does music offer us as complement to or in excess of the visual? And how is it that music keeps us going during times of frustration and despair? I am grateful beyond words to have joined this community at this particular moment in time and will carry the inspiration from the conference with me until we all meet again next year.
In lieu of a post this month, here is a playlist of sonic and affective protest songs: