World’s first academic book on Prince

The career of the prolific pop artist Prince has become inextricably intertwined with the history of popular music since the late 1970s. This multi-instrumental icon, who remains one of the highest-grossing live performers in America, has been called a genius for his musicianship, composition and incredible performances. But Prince holds iconic status for more than his music. Best known for his racial blurring and extravagant sexual persona, Prince’s music and visual iconography has always chimed with the ambiguity of subjectivity at any given moment. ‘Prince’ the sign offers a space for fans to evaluate and reconfigure their attitudes towards their own identities, and towards their position as subjects within the socio-cultural sphere. This much-needed interdisciplinary analysis is the first of its kind to examine critically Prince’s popular music, performances, sounds, lyrics and the plethora of accompanying visual material such as album covers, posters, fashions, promotional videos and feature films. Specifically, the book explores how and why he has played such a profoundly meaningful and significant role in his fans’ lives.

Contents: Preface; Introduction; The making of the authentic pop icon; Inscription of otherness: dandyism, style and queer sensibility; A god of earthly pleasures; Voicing the erotic and the sublime; ‘Take me with u, Prince’: female identifications with a male pop icon; The Princian sonic universe: matters of compositional and performative proficiency; The live experience: performance and performativity at the O2 Arena; Selected discography/filmography; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author: Professor Sarah Niblock,  Head of Journalism, Brunel University, London, UK.Professor, Stan Hawkins, Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, Norway

Reviews: ‘It’s about time! Prince, pop’s SEXY MF, has long been a subject of fan praise and speculation. While acknowledging these deep veins of adulation and conjecture, Hawkins and Niblock critically rewrite them through refined interdisciplinary inquiry. The result is a rich account of the intertwined complexities of Prince’s profound musicianship, performance verve, and positioned subjectivity.’Steven Feld, University of New Mexico, USA

‘In Prince: The Making of a Pop Music Phenomenon, Stan Hawkins and Sarah Niblock have written a thorough, scholarly and insightful study of the cultural impact, iconic status, and the work of Prince. They have explored the psychology behind Prince’s writing and behind the perception of his work by the public and by critics in a way that is engaging, convincing, and exceptionally well researched. This is a book that every serious student of popular culture (and especially of Prince) should read.’ James E. Perone, Author of The Words and Music of Prince


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