Events Calendar

“‘Bad Guy,’ ‘High Hopes,’ and Chill Moods: Post-Probabilist Resilience in Today’s pop Music”

A talk by Robin James.

Free - Abstract: Building on my work in Resilience & Melancholy, I discuss how post-probabilist neoliberalisms—neoliberalisms that depart from the Gaussian, probabilist neoliberalisms I studied in the book—impact contemporary popular music in the US. Using Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” Panic! At the Disco’s “High Hopes,” and Spotify’s “chill” playlists as case studies, I’ll show how the pop music industry and pop aesthetics are adapting to neoliberalism’s transformation of market value into capacity or resilience. I will also show that, in this context, inequality becomes a measure not of abnormality, but of dis/orientation, and explain how this impacts both performances of gender, race, and sexuality, and the use of pop music to regulate and manage mood or orientation for maximum capacity-building.

Bio: Robin James is Visiting Associate Professor of Music at Northeastern for the 2019–20 academic year. Her permanent appointment is as Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte. She is also co-editor of The Journal of Popular Music Studies. Robin is author of three books: The Sonic Episteme: acoustic resonance, neoliberalism, & biopolitics (Duke University Press, 2019), Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, and neoliberalism (Zero, 2015), and The Conjectural Body: gender, race and the philosophy of music (Lexington Books, 2010). Her work on feminism, race, contemporary continental philosophy, pop music, and sound studies has appeared in The GuardianLARBBELT MagazineThe New InquiryNoiseypopulaSoundingOut!Hypatiadifferences,
Contemporary Aesthetics, and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. She loves dogs, gardening, running, and face-melting industrial techno.

Tuesday, November 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Frick Fine Arts Building, Auditorium
650 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15260