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Quoted from Media Text Analysis Vol 27 Issue 2

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One of the classic criticisms of the popular music industry is that it trivializes and debases what is otherwise a potentially radical form of affect. Criticisms of this kind are associated in particular with Theodore Adorno, who argued that popular music ‘was bad, bound to be bad, without exception’ (1976: 225). His criticism was fuelled by his belief that popular music, produced in line with capitalist means of production, was merely an appeal to the lowest common cultural denominator and distracted its audiences from the realities of their social subjugation. Adorno argued that the value of more ‘difficult’ classic music was that it demanded that its audiences pay it their full attention. Such acts of concentration were rewarded by being made aware of the possibilities of a world of creativity that exists more or less for its own sake, rather than for the purposes of the reproduction of capital. The ‘right’ kind of music, Adorno insists, has the radical potential of affect, which can influence the conscious and subconscious mind, and bring into being alternative social possibilities. Popular music, on the other hand, uses repetition and predictability to stultify critical faculties, and to support impoverished social and economic institutions.

Downloaded from mcs.sagepub.com at SWETS WISE ONLINE CONTENT on September 5, 2010; 182 Media, Culture & Society 27(2)

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