Following Lady Gaga’s performance at the Super Bowl several weeks ago now, people were sending comments and tweets across the Internet praising her for leaving politics out of her performance. This interpretation of her song selections unknowingly or perhaps even willing erases the extremely political nature of her Super Bowl Halftime Show. Lady Gaga performed parts of many protest songs. And, considering the scope of United States History, having Lady Gaga perform is a political act in and of itself.
Since this performance, I have seen many other comments suggesting that music is frequently apolitical.
Music, however, is always political.
Even when it is “political” in terms of the “the personal is the political” philosophy.
We can read the lyrics and the instruments as texts and then examine relevant intertextualities and contexts. Song lyrics constantly respond to hopes and fears. Frequently, they take very specific stands. They provide a certain kind of measurement for change over time if we consider the difference between Sounds of Silence in the classic The Graduate and between Where is My Mind? in the classic Fight Club, as articulated here, for example. For some detailed comments as they relate to a specific song, please see my comments about God Bless the USA here.
That’s all for this post. Wanted to get this out there! This might be the start of a series focused on interpreting music.
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda