(1980). The content of popular recordings. The Journal of Popular
and Society, 7(3), 140-158.
A previous paper (Rice, 1978) discussed how the mass medium of
recordings may perform many of the social and cultural functions
with other mass media. It has also been argued, as does Gerber in his
of TV’s symbolic content (1972, 1976), that the content of a mass
can be considered indicators of our cultural and symbolic environment.
As such indicators, popular recording lyrics might be analyzed to
upon 1) the images of the dominate (sub)cultures in a society, or 2)
popular imagery reveals about various issues. In changing images,
recurrent sets appear. Specific popular recordings are similar to the
news or a TV series in that those played on the radio change from day
day; they underscore change, impermanence, and spontaneity. At the same
time the symbolic presence of Chuck Berry, Walter Cronkite, Ann
westerns and love songs remains constant and provides security and
to the rapid changes in our social surroundings.
As for mass appeal, over $2 billion were spent on all records and
tapes (of which our categories of popular music were a large portion)
1972, not including the $150 million committed to concert attendance.
figure grew to $2.7 billion in 1976 (Chapple and Garofalo, 1977) and to
nearly $4 billion in 1978. These figures can be compared to $600
spent on professional sports and $1.6 billion in movie revenues in
Over 50 pop music stars were earning form two to five million dollars
year in 1972 (Atkin, 1973), while a year later, CBS Records group
for 20 percent of CBS’ total sales (Chapple and Garofalo, 1977). The
interconnections among film, TV, record and radio business are
underscored by the media activities of stars such as John Travolta.
This paper will review the previous content analysis of popular
and include new research, in an effort to acquire a sense of the
content and span of the symbolic indicators of this mass medium.
here for PDF copy of publication