Musicology meets Samantha Fox: exploring an everyday aesthetics of popular music

Adrian Renzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Musicological research on popular music has received criticism for not adequately capturing how 'everyday listeners' approach music. This article responds to such critiques by analysing the music tastes of an 'everyday listener', de-identified here as 'HP'. As an 'everyday listener', HP diverges from established approaches in musicology: he listens primarily to music which has not been legitimated by the Anglo-American rock press or the academy (for example, his music collection privileges Samantha Fox over the Beatles); he is drawn to ephemeral 'moments' rather than engaging with each track holistically; and he openly ridicules some of his favourite songs rather than treating them as 'quality' music. The article argues that this kind of perspective is important for the study of popular music. HP's careful attention to specific musical details - details that he himself hears as fleeting, banal, or smutty - demonstrates that it is possible to engage with popular music without necessarily canonising it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-349
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Aesthetics
  • Canon
  • Listening
  • Musicology
  • Popular music
  • Sociology


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