Popular music has apparently gained much in status and artistic legitimacy. Some have argued that popular music criticism has assimilated the evaluative criteria traditionally associated with high art aesthetics to legitimate pop music as a serious art form, while others have claimed that popular music discourse opposes the evaluative principles of high art worlds in favor of a 'popular aesthetic'. Drawing on the theoretical framework of Lamont, DiMaggio and Bourdieu, we compare the critical discourse on popular music in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands and expect that the presence of 'high art' and 'popular' aesthetic criteria in popular music reviews published in elite newspapers varies cross-nationally due to differences in the hierarchy, universality and boundary strength of their respective cultural classification systems. We compare the prevalence of various high art and popular evaluative criteria in popular music album reviews in American, Dutch, and German newspapers. In the US, the boundary between high art and popular aesthetics appears to be weakest, German reviewers take the most high art approach to popular music, while Dutch reviews clearly favor the popular aesthetic over high art criteria.

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doi.org/10.1177/1749975510385444, hdl.handle.net/1765/25820
ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Cultural Sociology
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

van Venrooij, A.T, & Schmutz, V.C. (2010). The evaluation of popular music in the united states, germany and the netherlands: A comparison of the use of high art and popular aesthetic criteria. Cultural Sociology, 4(3), 395–421. doi:10.1177/1749975510385444