PERFORMING RITES

ON THE VALUE OF POPULAR MUSIC

A strained and frequently patronizing evaluation of ideological, rhetorical, and sociological elements in popular music. In this study of the relationship of individuals to their favorite performers and music, Frith (Sound Effects, 1982, etc.) takes a relatively simple subject and smothers it with facts and theory. Viewing the act of listening to popular music as a performance in its own right (``we express ourselves through our deployment of other people's music''), Frith identifies how music is categorized for consumption and, in turn, associated—by artists, producers, and, ultimately, by listeners—with larger social and cultural distinctions. But his tone, by turns pedantic and flip (questioning taste, he asks, ``Is the music right for this situation—the Trammps' `Disco Inferno' for a gay funeral? Whitney Houston's `I Will Always Love You' for everyone else's?'') is bound to turn off those readers who manage to keep up with the withering pace of his study. Frith veers off course somewhat in presuming to establish qualitatively and generically the ``aptness of different sorts of judgment.'' He observes: ``We can only begin to make sense of popular music when we understand, first, the language in which value judgments are articulated and expressed and, second, the social situations in which they are appropriate.'' While germane to the dispassionate study of the phenomenon of popular music, this suggestion, and this study as a whole, tells us little about what makes a young fan declare, ``Led Zep rules!''— and why that is in itself a valid judgment.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-674-66195-8

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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