Pop, Rock, and Soul Reading

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Pop, Rock, and Soul Reading

The chapter focuses on the 1980s and provides a snippet on the successful trends in pop, rock, and soul genres of music. The main protagonists are Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen. These three individuals re-defined music by introducing the aspect of performance rather than merely singing. Since going solo, Michael Jackson focused more on his performances both on stage and in his music videos. His music videos were more of mini-films illustrating his evolution as a performer. Similarly, Madonna considered herself more of a dancer and less as a singer as she perfected her art to become one of the best pop artists of all time. Similarly, Bruce Springsteen focused on building his craft as a performer through his live recordings rather than music videos. These three artists illustrate the evolution of music from singing to performing in the 1980s.

The chapter highlights the issue of identity with a particular focus on Michael Jackson. His transformation from a ‘Black’ to ‘White’ man raised questions on whether or not he was ashamed of his African-American heritage. As a young performer, Michael Jackson was hailed as a poster boy for the American-American community when starting with the Jackson Five. Some considered his blanched skin and his disfigured African features as signs of self-mutilation and self-hatred for his heritage (Tate 365). However, it can be argued that Michael was a casualty of America’s race war, leaving him at the center of trying to reach out to all audiences as the leading cause for his actions.

Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean is arguably one of his greatest songs of all time.  The storyline focuses on Billie Jean, an attractive woman who falsely accuses Michael as the father to her children. In the opening verse, Billie calls Michael to the stage. However, it is unclear if the dance offer was a metaphor for sex. Regardless, both fit the theme of the song. She then caused a scene on stage. As such, Michael sheds light on the first bridge that he had warned the girl of his non-committal nature to the relationship (Jackson). In the chorus, he clarifies that Billie Jean was not his lover. Musically, the song is classified in the R&B genre based on the soulful singing, driving bassline, and a steady backbeat. The instrumentation included a drum set, guitar, drum machine, synthesizer, strings, and voices, which emphasized the second and fourth beats. The instrumentation builds up towards the choruses.

Works Cited

Jackson, Michael. “Billie Jean.” YouTube, uploaded by Michael Jackson, 3 October 2009,

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