Protest music, populism, politics and authenticity
The limits and potential of popular music’s articulation of subversive politics
Political discourses are found not only in speeches and newspapers, but also in cultural artefacts such as architecture, art and music. Turkey’s June 2013 protests saw an explosion of music videos distributed on the internet. This paper uses these videos as a case study to examine the limits and potential of popular music’s articulation of popular and populist politics. Though both terms encompass what is “widely favoured”, populism includes discourses which construct “the people” pitted against “an elite”. Past research has shown how popular music can articulate subversive politics, though these do not detail what that subversion means and how it is articulated. This paper uses specific examples to demonstrate how musical sounds, lyrics and images articulate populist and popular politics. From a corpus of over 100 videos, a typical example is analysed employing social semiotics. It is found that popular music has the potential to contribute to the public sphere, though its limits are also exposed.
Keywords: Popular politics, populist politics, popular music, protest, Turkey and authenticity
Published online: 20 October 2016
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