In this presentation, we address a new form of political popular music that has emerged in recent years. Increasingly mainstream sounds with populist messages have gained widespread popularity beyond the confines of far-right extremist circles. We argue that this recent phenomenon of commercially successful and widely received popular music promoting populist agendas has been instrumental in the growing success of populism in Europe.
As we will show by discussing a few poignant examples, this music needs to be understood in its transnational dimension. Common tropes connect different kinds of music with populist elements across European nations. Populist musicians, for instance, tend to cast themselves as “resistant” towards corrupt elites and claim to speak in the name of the oppressed “people.” This rhetoric of subversion and protest, in turn, begs the question: how to resist the resistance?
Mario Dunkel (Prof. Dr.) teaches in the music department of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. He is the principal investigator of a European research project on populism and European popular music (funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, 2019-2022).
Dr. Melanie Schiller is Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Popular Music atthe University of Groningen, where she teaches courses on contemporary audiovisual arts, mediality, narrativity, popular music, politics, and resistance.
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