News/Events Uncategorized

Turn and Face the Change: a Pop Convergence on Music and Flux (2021)

The 2021 Conference theme was “Turn and Face the Change: A Pop Convergence On Music and Flux,” an acknowledgement of the unique circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s reshaping the social world around us. 

The conference/convergence brought together the world’s leading pop scholars, journalists, writers, and musicians for four days of virtual events exploring pop music’s role in mirroring and shaping one of the most disruptive moments in modern global history, from April 22 to 25 2021. The conference was hosted by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts, and was free and open to the public.

Things kicked-off Thursday, April 22 at 6 p.m. ET with a keynote conversation featuring musical polymath Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange), singer-songwriter and producer Róisín Murphy, musician and record producer Rostam (a founding member of the band Vampire Weekend), and singer-songwriter and producer Tamara Lindeman (of The Weather Station). The keynote address, “Fluxed: Making Popular Music in the Midst of Change and Transition,” brought together artists thriving within the highly volatile environment of contemporary popular music to discuss how the spirit and realities of change challenge and inspire them. The keynote was moderated by NPR Music critic and author Ann Powers.

Friday, April 23rd featured 10 daytime sessions and 3 evening events. The daytime sessions included “The Quarantine Boogie: Music In the Times of Pandemics” and the roundtable, “South Gotta Change: Southern Music in a Moment of Transformation.” There was also the roundtable, “Black Critics Matter” which brought together journalists and culture critics Wesley Morris (New York Times), Danyel Smith (ESPN), and Greg Tate (founding member of the Black Rock Coalition) to discuss the central role that African American cultural critics have played in shaping narratives about popular music.  

Friday programming continued into the evening, beginning at 8:15pm ET with a special appearance by the crew of Flower Bomb who normally host a popular Friday night party on the Clubhouse platform where they invite people to share short testimonials about favorite songs by a featured artist. For the Pop Convergence, Flower Bomb joined us on our platform for an hour dedicated to the sound-shaping career of Stevie Wonder. After that, there was a conversation between Jason King, Chair of NYU’s Clive Davis Institute and co-producer of Pop Conference 2021, and DJ, rapper and producer Derrick “D-Nice” Jones, marking the first collaboration between the Pop Conference and the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture Council. We ended Friday with the “Flaming? Midnight Musical,” curated by Pop Conference programmer Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, that included at least half a dozen performers drawn from the gospel community.  

Saturday, April 24th, marked another full day of sessions including “Pop Musicking and Survivance in Native North Pacific Communities” and “Listening Queerly: Sounds of the Asian/American Diaspora in Flux”. The day ended with one of our featured roundtables, “Going, Going, Gone: The Future After Marvin’s Masterpiece,” which looked at the 50 year legacy of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, led by Dr. Shana Redmond and featuring Black music scholars Lynnée Denise, Mark Anthony Neal, Guthrie Ramsey, and Natalie Hopkinson. 

Sunday, April 25th was dedicated solely to an expansive set of seven mentorship sessions. Six were focused on specific topics for aspiring arts, music and culture writers including how to pitch a story, how to launch a book, how academics can engage in forms of public writing, etc. These sessions were open to a select number of direct participants and most were available to general audience members through a webinar format. The mentorship sessions culminated with the public webinar, “Finding Your Voice: A Writing Workshop with Joan Morgan and NYU Students of The Collective Blive Recorded Music Chapter” (a club for rising Black multidisciplinary artists at NYU). 

*** The 2021 programming committee included Oliver Wang (Chair, CSU Long Beach), Timothy Anne Burnside (Smithsonian), Martha Gonzalez (Quetzal/Scripps College), Alisha Lola Jones (Indiana University), Jason King (New York University’s Clive Davis Institute), Michelle Habel-Pallan (Univ. of Washington), RJ Smith (Writer), Brittany Spanos (Rolling Stone), and Melissa A. Weber (Loyola University New Orleans, WWOZ FM).

The 2021 Pop Conference was supported by Critical Minded, a granting and learning initiative cofounded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation and The Ford Foundation to support cultural critics of color in the United States, where they are underrepresented in the coverage of all artistic disciplines.

Full schedule:

News/Events Pop Up Event

“Stuck In My Head” Pop Up Panel

Leading up to the virtual Pop Con this fall, the Museum of Pop Culture has been hosting a series of teaser events. The second, ‘Stuck In My Head’ took place on Thursday, June 25 featuring programming committee members Summer Kim Lee and Iván Ramos as they bring together a group of new Pop Con presenters to explore the songs that stay stuck in our heads from our youth.

News/Events Pop Up Event

“Too Old For This Sh*t” Critical Karaoke Session

Leading up to the virtual Pop Con this fall, the Museum of Pop Culture has been hosting a series of teaser events. The first, ‘Too Old For This Sh*t’ took place on Thursday, May 28 with a critical karaoke webinar featuring a gathering of Pop Con veterans and 2020 programming committee members, including Raquel Gutierrez, Gerrick Kennedy, Sarah Kessler, Emily Lordi, Chris Molanphy, Ned Raggett, Jodie Rosen, Mairead Sullivan, Karen Tongson, and Carl Wilson, reflecting on what, how, and when we confront the limit case—if ever—of our presence in youth culture and pop scenes.

Books In Progress News/Events

Books In Progress Series

This series, a collaboration between Journal of Popular Music Studies, IASPM-US, and the Pop Conference, is meant to offer writers and scholars with books that have recently been published, or books in progress, on all kinds of popular music a chance to connect with a deeply interested community of readers. And to give the rest of us a sense that our intellectual world, however dormant, is far from dead. Email Eric Weisbard to be added to the list of attendees sent updates, Zoom links, and other advance material.

Recordings of previous events can be found here.

Calendar of Events

Time for each event is Tuesdays, 5 pm ET, 2 pm PT, unless specified otherwise.

  • August 18: Emily J. Lordi, The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience Since the 1960s, Duke University Press
  • August 25: Maria Sherman, Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS, Black Dog & Leventhal
  • September 1: Ashley Kahn, editor, George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters, Chicago Review Press
  • September 8: Alex Ross, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • September 15, Martha Gonzalez, Chican@ Artivistas: Music, Community and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles, University of Texas Press
  • September 22, Special Topic: Country Music History with Peter La Chapelle, I’d Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly and Country Music, University of Chicago Press, and Stephanie Vander Wel, Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and Cowgirls: Women’s Country Music, 1930-1960, University of Illinois Press
  • September 29, Ann Powers, Approaching Joni Mitchell, book in progress, Dey Street Books
  • October 6, Franklin Bruno, The Inside of the Tune: The Bridge in Pop from “St. Louis Blues” to “Single Ladies,” book in progress, Wesleyan University Press
  • October 13, Matthew J. Jones, Love Don’t Need a Reason: The Life and Music of Michael Callen, Punctum Books, and Popular Music-Making During the AIDS Crisis, 1981-1996, book in progress, Routledge
  • October 20, Lauron Kehrer, Queer Voices in Hip-Hop: Cultures, Communities, and Contemporary Performance, book in progress, University of Michigan Press
  • October 27, Maureen Mahon, Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll, Duke University Press
  • November 3, Maya Angela Smith, Reclaiming Venus: The Many Lives of Alvenia Bridges, book in progress
  • November 10, 4PM ET, Joshua S. Duchan and Ryan Raul Bañagale, eds., with Don Traut and Kathryn Metz, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”: Billy Joel and Popular Music Studies, Lexington Books
  • November 17: Kyra Gaunt, Twerking at the Intersection: Collapsing Music, Monetization, and Violence Against Girls on YouTube, book in progress
  • November 24, Joanna Love, Turf Wars: Popular Music and Political Resistance at America’s Super Bowl, book in progress
  • December 1, Larisa Mann, Rude Citizenship: Jamaican Popular Music, Copyright and Colonial Power, book in progress, University of North Carolina Press
  • December 8, Kimberly Mack, Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White, University of Massachusetts Press
  • December 15, Michaelangelo Matos, Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year, Hachette Books

Series Organizers

  • Kimberly Mack, University of Toledo, for IASPM-US
  • Eric Weisbard, University of Alabama, for Journal of Popular Music Studies
  • Carl Wilson, Slate, for the Pop Conference
News/Events Pop Talks

Pop Talks: Holly Herndon (Friday, August 14, 2020)

NPR Music x Pop Conference in collaboration with The Museum of Pop Culture present:

POP TALKS: Holly Herndon
Friday, August 14, 2020
3:00 pm EDT 
via Instagram Live @nprmusic

POP TALKS is a new pop-up conversation series on Instagram live. Join NPR Music and Pop Conference for hourlong, thoughtful conversations with today’s most intriguing musicians. 

Experimental electronic composer and performer Holly Herndon talks about her provocative work on Friday August 14th, in an interview with Jason King. 

About Holly Herndon 

Holly Herndon operates at the edges of electronic and avant-garde pop and emerges with a dynamic and disruptive canon of her own. On her most recent full-length album PROTO, Herndon fronts and conducts an electronic pop choir comprised of both human and A.I. voices over a musical palette that encompasses everything from synths to Sacred Harp stylings. The sounds synthesized on PROTO by Herndon, her A.I. “baby” Spawn, and the vocal ensemble combine elements from Herndon’s dynamic and idiosyncratic personal journey: the timeless folk traditions of her childhood experiences in church-going East Tennessee (particularly the prismatic layered practice of Sacred Harp singing), the avant-garde music she explored while at Mills College, and the radical club culture of Berlin, all enhanced by her recent PhD in composition studies at Stanford University, researching machine learning and music.