For freaks and others: Alien pop, electric guitars and queerness in the work of Annie Clark

Rogerson-Berry, Megan (2017) For freaks and others: Alien pop, electric guitars and queerness in the work of Annie Clark. IASPM-ANZ 2017, Massey University, Wellington, 4-6 December, 2017. (Unpublished)

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Abstract or Summary

“I’d like to extend a special welcome to the others, freaks and weirdos here.” (Hennessy, 2014). With this greeting, offered on her Digital Witness tour in 2014, Annie Clark (St. Vincent) acknowledges queerness and otherness as key identity markers amongst her audience. Queerness is also present in the musical texts and performance style of Annie Clark, specifically in her self-titled album of 2014 and Digital Witness tour. This paper explores the ways in which Clark subverts and resists stereotypical gender identities, and queers notions of normativity through her use of electric guitar, songwriting and arrangements, music videos, and choreography. This is most striking in her creation of what she terms “alien pop” music – concurrently dissonant and highly catchy, with Clark’s angelic voice juxtaposed against the uncomfortable, other-worldy sounds of her electric guitar. Additionally, as part of Clark’s Digital Witness tour, choreographer Annie-B Parson, “developed a set of mechanistic movements for Clark and her band to perform on cue, in a winking acknowledgment of the artifice that goes into seemingly spontaneous performances” (Weiner, Rolling Stone, 2014), thus queering notions of normativity by exposing the unnatural and technological nature of performance. This paper concludes by briefly examining the political and cultural impact of St Vincent’s musical and performing style, centering around the notion of a style and lineage of music and performance that continues to subvert and resist heteronormativity in popular music.

Item Type:Paper presented at a conference, workshop, or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Keywords that describe the item:Conference Paper, Gender, Popular Music, Queer Theory
Subjects:M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions:Schools > School of Media Arts
ID Code:5575
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Deposited On:11 Dec 2017 01:35
Last Modified:19 Dec 2018 20:46

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