Globalisation, Jamaican Creole, Language Attitudes, Music, performance, singing, Sociolinguistics

Reminder: Rihanna’s Multivocal Pop Persona

cambridge rihanna

Source: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/english-today/issue/8DD6C7875691A13A7BC519F78DA3EEB1 (l.) and LiJa (r.)

Rihanna is a globally successful artist with Caribbean roots who combines different musical styles and the performance codes associated with these genres. Her single “Work” attracted great attention and generated considerable media coverage. On the one hand it was praised for displaying her Barbadian heritage, on the other dismissed it as lyrical gibberish. Interested in how Rihanna works her multivocal pop persona in this single, we conducted a morpho-syntactic analysis of the lyrics and investigated the accent of Rihanna’s singing style in this song to discover how she combines different linguistic resources. Furthermore, we analyzed an accompanying music video to show how Rihanna visually represents her pop persona.

Intrigued? Then read our Cambridge blogpost for more information or directly download the full article here.

Sources:

Jansen, Lisa, & Michael Westphal. 2017. Rihanna Works Her Multivocal Pop Persona: A Morpho-syntactic and Accent Analysis of Rihanna’s Singing Style. English Today 33 (2): 46-55. doi: 10.1017/S0266078416000651.

 

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Language Attitudes, Perception, performance, singing, Sociolinguistics

Published: “Britpop Is a Thing, Damn It”

the language of pop culture

Just recently, Valentin Werner edited and published an intriguing volume called The Language of Pop Culture (2018, Routledge). Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to take part in this project and contribute a chapter.

Said chapter gives insight into a small explorative pilot study that I conducted for my  PhD project. It explores British attitudes towards an Americanized singing style in British music and the American accent in general. You can take a first glance at the book and its contents here and get it for your university or department library, if you are intrigued.

Sources:

Werner, Valentin. (Ed.) 2018. The Language of Pop Culture. New York: Routledge.

Jansen, Lisa. 2018. “Britpop is a thing, damn it”: On British attitudes towards American English and an Americanized singing style. V. Werner (ed.), The Language of Pop Culture, chapter 6. New York: Routledge.

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Globalisation, Morphology, Music, Perception, performance, Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics

Published: Rihanna Works Her Multivocal Pop Persona: A Morpho-syntactic and Accent Analysis of Rihanna’s Singing Style

Pop culture provides rich data that demonstrate the complex interplay of World Englishes

My dear colleague Michael Westphal and I turned our blogpost into a more detailed, refined, and peer-reviewed article for English Today. I am happy to announce that it was published online on February 13th 2017. Below you will find our abstract published on English Today’s First View platform.

Abstract

Singing is a very dynamic and innovative mode of communication through which artists often express themselves with a set of various voices. Today, pop music circulates across national boundaries and English is the main medium of communication in transnational pop culture. In this special context different varieties of English meet at a high density. Rihanna’s single Work is an example of this prevalent multivocality in pop music culture. Her language performance attracted public attention of various sorts as she audibly incorporates several Caribbean English Creole (CEC) features. While some critics describe her lyrics as ‘gibberish’ (cf. Noelliste, 2016), others acknowledge her performance as a ‘reclamation of her Barbadian heritage’ (Gibsone, 2016). The example of Rihanna shows that singers can be transporters of English varieties: she is a Caribbean artist who started a successful career in the US, and whose music today has global reach. Singers, like Rihanna, are thus mobile, transnational linguistic agents. On the one hand, she physically travels the world playing concerts to her audiences. On the other, her persona, music, videos, and further media commodities are part of the global ‘mediascape’ (Appadurai, 1996). In other words, her products easily spread across the globe and are reproduced, transcending national and social boundaries. New technologies (e.g. smart phones, tablets) and applications (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) facilitate as well as accelerate the transnational dissemination of media resources. Moreover, singers show that the linguistic (and cultural) resources as such are mobile. Different language influences are formed into individual linguistic repertoires. Singers often playfully employ certain features to highlight parts of their identity or locate themselves in a particular music genre.

Sources:

 

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