Summer’s Gone: Late Style and Popular Music

Graham, Stephen. 2021. Summer’s Gone: Late Style and Popular Music. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 146(2), pp. 315-333. ISSN 0269-0403 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The Beach Boys’ 2012 album That’s Why God Made the Radio is typically nostalgic, filled with seemingly sunny reminiscences and retreads that hark back to the 1960s. And yet other parts of the album look back in a more critical fashion, exploring unresolved melancholy through a rich musical language. What makes this even more complicated is the fact that it is possible to hear these two ‘sides’ of the album differently, for the retreads to feel like eerie simulations and the melancholy parts to align with earlier, similarly complicated Beach Boys music. This ambivalence embodies the album’s dual relationship with what I describe as the primary strains of late style: Goethean serenity and Adornian intransigence. In exploring this contention and in applying late style to other examples of popular music, notably David Bowie’s 2016 album Blackstar, I argue that the late-style lens helps to shed new light on popular music’s increasingly complicated knots of nostalgia, ageing and death.

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This article has been published in a revised form in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © The Author(s), 2021.

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6 December 2019Accepted
16 September 2021Published Online
November 2021Published

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15 Jan 2020 09:39

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2021 13:46

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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