Flight of the Conchords: recontextualizing the voices of popular culture

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Folk‐comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords, have become one of New Zealand's most successful musical exports, having attracted a large international audience through their American‐produced TV series. One of their central comic devices is to stylize well‐known singers and their music. This article focuses on how Flight of the Conchords shift their phonetic style towards that of various target personas, and how they maintain their own voices as comedians in the process. An acoustic analysis compares Flight of the Conchords’ pronunciation of four vowels (kit, dress, trap, and goat) to the pronunciation of the pop singers being stylized. Both Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie manipulate their vowel production towards that of the targeted personas. They also maintain some distance from their targeted roles through a range of devices including the use of exaggerated phonetic style. Through their performances, Flight of the Conchords recontextualize and parody a range of popular cultural products, continuing the enregisterment of certain phonetic styles with the voices of well‐known characterological figures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-626
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • performance
  • comedy
  • NZE
  • singing
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • indexicality
  • pop culture
  • intertextuality


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