Vivid Versions: Cover Songs, Contexts, and Subjectivities
Edited by Mike Alleyne and Lori Burns
~Call for Proposals~
The covering of an iconic song has long been a popular music strategy for an artist’s expression of identity and musical subjectivity. Such song adaptations often entail the traversing of borders that articulate significant contexts for social and musical identities. We summarize these potential contexts in the following list, in no particular order of critical importance:
1. place and space, history, and politics;
2. gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, age and ability;
3. authenticity, authority, and performative agency;
4. influence, intertextuality, and lineage;
5. genre, production, and sonic imprint.
These factors contribute to the shaping of a distinctive cover version and it is through these contexts that an artist negotiates social, cultural, and musical space to articulate their own place in the genealogy of popular music. We shall refer to the convergence of unique and specific attributes as the vividness of a cover song. Vivid aspects of a new version have the potential to submerge or uncover original elements through re-presentation of the recorded text, attenuating the thematic and/or sonic emphases.
Engaging with the rich scholarly discourse that already exists on the topic of cover songs, the proposed collection of essays will explore a range of cover versions that articulate social and musical border crossings to reveal the full range of possibilities expressed, relocated, or recontextualized by the covering artist or band.
As we invite contributions to this collection, we ask that the cultural impact, relevance, and significance of both the original song and cover version be critically centered to validate their inclusion. In addition, analyses should prioritize commercially available recorded studio versions over live interpretations. What makes the original song definitive in popular music history, and how does the covering artist mold the expressive sonic character of the version to become distinct, vibrant, and weighty—vivid—in its own right?
We encourage authors to propose analyses that will mobilize elements from the contexts identified above as a framework for interpretation.
350-word abstracts for 6500-word essays will contain:
1. Title of the original song(s) and cover version(s)
2. Contexts, and justification of the selection of music
3. Analytic goals and focus
4. Methodology and analytic techniques to be applied
Please also include a brief biography.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: March 15, 2023.
We would be pleased to receive declarations of interest by February 22, 2023.