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COMM 142: Popular Music

Music, possibly more now than ever before, is a central and pervasive part of our everyday lives. Through both live performance and recorded media it embeds itself into lived everyday practice and experience through advertising, ringtones, scores and soundtracks, commuter radio, portable music devices, and concerts. The very everyday pervasiveness of music tends to naturalize it to the point where it is not critically reflected upon. The point of this course is to change that for you. This course supplies key terms and concepts from cultural studies and political economy as tools for your own analysis of popular music. We will go beyond surface description of current pop music, and discuss the historical, economic, and cultural underpinnings of one of the most dominant forms of popular culture, one that ultimately shapes our larger experience of the world. You will also produce professionally oriented products, such as live performance reviews, that the music industries depend on in their day to day operation.

Required Materials

A comprehensive word processing or layout program: For integrating images and text. Microsoft Word is sufficient. You are responsible for knowing enough about your word processing software to combine text and photographs in a single document and save as a PDF file. A media player: Apple iTunes or VLC. You can download either for free if you don't already have one. Depending on what you already have, you may need to purchase music and videos for your collection over the course of the semester. In particular:: For Lesson 3: Michael Jackson's This Is It [videorecording]. This may be available at your local library. For those in Chapel Hill, there is a copy in the Media Resources Center at UNC-Chapel Hill's Undergraduate Library for in-library viewing. It is available to 'watch instantly' on Netflix, for re The Music Industry Handbook: Media Practice; ISBN: 9781138910508; Author: Rutter; Edition: 2nd; Year: 2016; This book is can be rented or purchased electronically. a high-speed Internet connection. : You will need to access YouTube videos and a film via Netflix or other service, as well as multimedia websites and online course readings.



Course Type



UNC Chapel Hill




2nd Summer 2019


Elizabeth Melton


Communication Studies

Credit Hours