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The Ballad in American Popular Music
From Elvis to Beyoncé


  • Author: David Metzer, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Date Published: September 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107161528

£ 36.99

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About the Authors
  • While ballads have been a cornerstone of popular music for decades, this is the first book to explore the history and appeal of these treasured songs. David Metzer investigates how and why the styles of ballads have changed over a period of more than seventy years, offering a definition of the genre and discussing the influences of celebrated performers including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. The emotional power of the ballad is strongly linked to the popular mood of the time, and consequently songs can tell us much about how events and emotions were felt and understood in wider culture at specific moments of recent American history. Tracing both the emotional and stylistic developments of the genre from the 1950s to the present day, this lively and engaging volume is as much a musical history as it is a history of emotional life in America.

    • The first history of the ballad in American popular music, this book explores a well-known but often misunderstood genre, describing the musical and emotional qualities that define it
    • Written in an engaging style, and designed to be accessible to general readers as well as music scholars
    • Surveys songs and trends from the 1950s to the present day, presenting a history of US popular musical culture
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107161528
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: what is a ballad?
    1. The 1950s
    Interlude I: Patsy Cline, 'Crazy'
    2. The soul ballad
    Interlude II: It still hurts …
    3. The power ballad
    Interlude III: Sarah McLachlan, 'Angel'
    Interlude IV: hip hop ballads
    4. Indie ballads
    Interlude V: I confess
    Conclusion: goodbye
    Selected bibliography

  • Author

    David Metzer, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
    David Metzer is a Professor in the School of Music at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He has published widely on a range of modern musical topics, and is the author of Quotation and Cultural Meaning in Twentieth-Century Music (Cambridge, 2003) and Musical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, 2009).

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