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Cliff Richard’s self-presentation as a redeemer

  • ANJA LÖBERT (a1)

Although tremendously popular, Great Britain’s long-term icon Cliff Richard has been widely neglected by popular music studies. This article aims to correct this omission by introducing an argument that claims that Cliff Richard portrays himself to a considerable degree as a saviour figure. Evidence for this thesis will be drawn from three meaningful dimensions in popular music: song lyrics, pictorial self-representations, and image components. These three areas can be shown to be semantically concordant in presenting Cliff Richard as a redeemer. While the promise of redemption by the singer persona is a recurring motif in his song lyrics, this assurance gets repeated in pictorial representations that make allusions to Jesus Christ (through posture, lighting, and elevation) and is further reinforced by a number of components of Richard’s image such as the (apparently) incorruptible body, the asexuality, and the demonstrative benevolence towards the sick and poor. The combination of these sign-complexes creates a meaningful pattern around the singer that sets him apart as a surrogate saviour.

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Popular Music
  • ISSN: 0261-1430
  • EISSN: 1474-0095
  • URL: /core/journals/popular-music
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