RockPop Fall 16

Rock & Popular Music Fall 2016

Announcements, links, and information. As I add new posts, the old posts will move down the page.


11/17 Last Update

I hope you enjoyed our week on one hit wonders. Now we move on to round out the end of the semester. I’ve really enjoyed our semester together and I hope you feel you’ve learned things you haven’t expected. This final post gives you a calendar, info about make up work, and the final.


  • Tues, 11/22: I’ll have something prepared (either I’ll talk about something or we’ll watch Tommy)
  • Thurs, 11/24: Thanksgiving No Class (enjoy your holiday!)
  • Tues, 11/29: End of Semester Presentations Day One
    • Presenters include Ali, Ja’Maria, MaKayla, and Jaclyn
  • Thurs, 12/1: End of Semester Presentations Day Two All Make Up Work and Revisions due this day
    • Presenters include Sierra, Jonathan, Devin, Lashona, and Kyle
  • Friday, 12/9 3pm: Final
    • Unconference on the following topic: Can Music Improve Society?

Revisions and Make Up Work

If you are planning on retaking quizzes, revising either project, or making up any assignments you missed, the last day to do this is Thursday, 12/1. If you would like to know if you are missing any work or want to know your current grade, let me know. I am happy to give you this information. (Know that I will be dropping your lowest quiz grade for your final grade.)

Final Unconference

I hate written exams. So, I’ve been looking for a way for us to have a final exam period that was actually useful and interesting, or at least wouldn’t cause everyone to stress out (I’ll let your other professors do that.) A format I would like to use is called an unconference.

A conference is a bunch of academics reading and presenting papers to each other where interaction waits for sometimes mean-spirited Q & A. Instead, an unconference is a loosely structured event where the attendees determine the agenda together. Our class has been a version of this in some way, but I’d like to give over our last time together to discuss a single topic: “Can Music Improve Society?” How we actually do this, is up to you.

If you like, you can prepare for the final by researching other people’s thoughts on music’s impact on society and musical examples that you think improve or worsen society. You can also think through how you think music effects our society and come up with some thoughts you would like to share. Even if you would prefer just to show up, make sure you participate, since I have to find a way to grade this. What do you think? We’ll talk about this to make sure everyone understands in class today and in the remaining class periods.

Drop me an email or talk to me before or after class if you have any thoughts or concerns you want to share.

See you in class today and thanks for a great semester!


11/15 One Hit Wonders Reading & End of Semester Presentations

Today in class we’ll talk about the one-hit wonders you looked up. Next time in class we’ll listen to more examples and talk about the following article. This is the last assigned reading.

End of Semester Presentations

Today in class I will have a sign up for your end of semester presentations on 11/29 and 12/1. Here’s some more information for you about what is expected for your presentations.

  • Your presentation is basically like either of our previous projects. Your topic is up to you.
  • The only difference is that you are required to present and that whatever you do outside of the presentation itself is optional (paper, essay, etc. is optional.)
  • Plan a presentation of about 5 to 10 minutes long.
  • Please have a visual aid of some kind (powerpoint, handout, etc.). Make sure you email me your powerpoint, so I can refer to it as I grade afterward.
  • All of the student presentations we’ve had so far are good examples of something you might do.

I’ll talk with you all about what the final will be like on Thursday.

See you on Thursday!

11/10 One Hit Wonders Stuff

I hope you enjoyed our class talking more about the musical we were planning and then talking about how artists create their work and the political ramifications of their choices. Now we move onto our final topic: One Hit Wonders. Below are the listening list for our last quiz and info for the last assignment (due Tuesday). I will also make and pass out a signup sheet for our days of end of semester presentations (which are in a few weeks), and we’ll discuss what to do for our Final next week as well.

One Hit Wonders LISTENING LISt (Last Quiz!)

Your need to remember artist and song title.

Spotify playlist | YouTube playlist

  • Carl Perkins, “Blue Suede Shoes” (1956)
  • Mark Dinning, “Teen Angel” (1960)
  • Kyu Sakamoto, “Sukiyaki” (1963)
  • Steam, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (1969)
  • Carl Douglas, “Kung Fu Fighting” (1974)
  • Wild Cherry, “Play That Funky Music” (1976)
  • Lipps, Inc., “Funkytown” (1980)
  • Dexy’s Midnight Runners, “Come On Eileen“ (1983)
  • Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (1988)
  • Sir Mix-a-Lot, “Baby Got Back” (1992)

One Hit Wonders Assignment (Due Tuesday: Last One!)

  • Due next class Tuesday 11/15.
  • Research a single one hit wonder song and it’s artist/band and make a single handout following our procedure for previous assignments. Here are links to help you find songs.
  • Please choose songs that have truly unknown artists (or artists only known for this song) rather than collaborations of famous artists that only had one famous song.

11/3 No Class on Election Day and More Time on Our Musical on Thursday

I hope you enjoyed our week talking about musicals. We started an in-class assignment today where we come up with a plot, characters, and structure for a musical. We will continue planning this “orphanage cult” musical on our next class meeting (Thursday 11/10). Your job before next class is to come up with ideas for where we would place songs and what they should be about, as well filling in the rest of the story. I’ve shared a google doc with you all you can edit for what we came up with so far today in class. Check your email.

Remember that there are no classes on Tuesday (11/8) because of Election Day. Please vote if you are registered.

See you on Thursday!


10/27 Musicals Next Week

Thanks to Devin and Sierra for the presentations today. I wasn’t expecting to spend the whole class on Epic Rap Battles of History and then Feminism, but I enjoyed both presentations and our discussion very much. We’ll talk about Bob Dylan on either 11/10 or 11/17. In the meantime, we start musicals next week.

Musicals Listening List

Your job is to remember the musical title and the song title. (I’ve given you the composer/lyricist names as well, but you don’t have to memorize them.)

Spotify playlist | YouTube playlist

  • Anything Goes (1934) by Cole Porter
    • “I Get a Kick Out of You”
  • Oklahoma! (1943) by Richard Rodgers (music)  and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)
    • “People Will Say We’re in Love”
  • My Fair Lady (1956) by Frederick Loewe (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics)
    • “I Could Have Danced All Night”
  • Fiddler on the Roof (1964) by Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics)
    • “To Life”
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics)
    • “Superstar”
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1982) by Alan Menken (music) and Howard Ashman (lyrics)
    • “Dentist!”
  • Into the Woods (1986) by Stephen Sondhiem
    • “Agony”
  • Rent (1996) by Jonathan Larson
    • “La Vie Bohème A”
  • Wicked (2003) by Stephen Schwartz
    • “Defying Gravity”
  • Hamilton (2015) by Lin-Manuel Miranda
    • “My Shot”

Musicals Watching (In place of reading for Tuesday)

Instead of reading an article or something, I’m assigning you to watch this video of the 1982 production of Sweeney Todd. It is about 2 1/2 hours, so block off some time to watch it in its entirety.

In addition, I will be screening it in our classroom (CMUS 401) from 1pm to 3:30pm right before class. Please make sure you watch it while noting things about how the musical is shaped and what happens to prepare for our in-class assignment on Thursday. Musicals Assignment (Will Do in Class as a Group on Thursday)

I’m mixing up the assignment for this coming week.

  • Here’s what we’re going to do.
    • In class we’re going to create the plot and structure for a musical either in small groups or as a class.
    • So we’ll sketch out a basic musical structure (when songs will happen, what kind of songs they’ll be).
    • Well’ sketch out a basic plot and characters (where it is, what happens, who does these things and sings the songs).
    • And if there is time, we’ll also try creating one of the songs.
  • What you should do to prepare.
    • Take a musical you know and figure out its structure. We’ll do some of this in class on Tuesday with a famous musical I choose. Also think about how the musical I assign you to watch breaks down into chunks and shapes.

See you on Tuesday!


10/20 Project 2 Due Next Week, Last Set of Topics Chosen, and Next Week

I hope you enjoyed our week on hip-hop and rap music. Here are a couple of video links, if you’d like to learn more.

  • The Hip-Hop Years, a 3-part documentary mini-series on the history of hip-hop. We watched a section in class about how DJ Kool Herc created extended break beats with his dual turntable that began this musical style.
  • Rapping, deconstructed: The best rhymers of all time, a 12 minute video by Vox showing how complex rhyming and rhythms create awesome rapping.

Project 2 (due 10/27)

Remember that your project 2 is due a week from today (Thursday, 10/27). Make sure you include a self-evaluation and cite any sources you use. Also, if you choose to do a powerpoint, you need to present your project to receive full credit. Let me know if you have any questions.

New Topics and Updated Calendar

  • A Couple of One Off Days (No Quiz this week)
    • 10/25 Chris O’Neill Lecture on Punk Music
    • 10/27 Project 2 due Discussion of Bob Dylan’s Lyrics (Winner of Nobel Prize for Literature)
  • Topic 8: Musicals
    • 11/1 Quiz 7
    • 11/3
  • Election Week
    • 11/8 Election Day No Class Please Vote!
    • 11/10 Extra Day
  • Topic 9: One Hit Wonders
    • 11/15 Quiz 8
    • 11/17
  • Thanksgiving Week
    • 11/22 Extra Day
    • 11/24 Thanksgiving No Class
  • End of Semester Presentations (Sign up for Times Soon)
    • 11/29 5 or 6 Presentations
    • 12/1 5 or 6 Presentations All Make Up Work and Revisions due 
  • Final (Will Determine Soon)
    • Friday 12/9 3pm

Next WEek

Chris O’Neill will be with us on Tuesday to talk about punk music, and on Thursday we’ll listen to some Bob Dylan and talk about his lyrics since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature last week.

See you on Tuesday!


10/14 Hip-Hop & Rap Is Next

I hope you enjoyed our relaxed couple of days on TV Theme Songs. Remember that Project 2 is due in less than two weeks (Thursday 10/27). So make sure you start on that soon, if you haven’t already. Now we move on to Hip-Hop & Rap.

Hip-Hop & Rap Listening List

We are returning to you needing to remember the Artist Name and the Song Title for the quiz on Tuesday.

Spotify playlist | YouTube playlist

  • The Sugarhill Gang, “Rapper’s Delight” (1979)
  • Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” (1982)
  • Run–D.M.C., “My Adidas” (1986)
  • Public Enemy, “Don’t Believe the Hype” (1988)
  • Snoop Doggy Dogg, “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” (1993)
  • Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y” (1993)
  • Eminem, “My Name Is” (1999)
  • Missy Elliott, “Work It” (2002)
  • J Dilla, “Two Can Win” (2006)
  • Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta” (2015)

Hip-Hop & Rap Reading (For Thursday)

Since this weekend is fall break and the reading I want to assign is on the long side, you need to read the following article for Thursday’s class. It’s a profile of Questlove, drummer of the hip-hop band The Roots, which is now the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. I think it’s a great example of how artists change (and stay the same) as they age.

I’m going to think of an assignment later, which we will do during class next week.

Have a good break!

See you on Tuesday!


9/29 Movie Scores Next Week

I hope you enjoyed our look at form and harmony this week in class. Next week we move on to movie scores. We’ll spend time talking both about iconic movie songs as well as the music that accompanies the rest of any movie.


I chose to make the listening lists a set of 10 famous movie songs. Your job for this week is to remember the song title and the movie title.

Spotify playlist | YouTube playlist

  • The Jazz Singer (1927) “My Mammy”
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939) “Over the Rainbow”
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952) “Singin’ in the Rain”
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) “Moon River”
  • Shaft (1971) “Theme from Shaft
  • The Harder They Come (1973) “The Harder They Come”
  • The Breakfast Club (1985) “Don’t You Forget About Me”
  • Titanic (1997) “My Heart Will Go On”
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) “Down to the River to Pray”
  • Frozen (2013) “Let It Go”


We will spend a portion of class on Tuesday talking about this interview with John Williams, probably the most well known composer (for film or any medium) alive today. Here he talks with BMI about the newest Star Wars movie.


  • Due Thursday 10/6.
  • Choose a short scene that has music from a movie you like, which you can find online somewhere for free and can link to it for me.
  • Write a short review (about 250 words) where you discuss and describe the function and purpose of the music in that scene and why you think it is successful or not. Make sure you give me the context (something about the plot, why this scene is happening. I don’t see many movies.)
  • Make sure you send me the link and/or include it in your review.

See you on Tuesday!


9/22 Project 1 due One Week from Today; Musical Ideas next week

Today we spend class talking more about covers and your reviews comparing a cover and its original.

Project 1 due 9/29

Here’s a rubric. Make sure you read it. Notice that I ask you to do a self-evaluation with your project. Let me know if you have any questions.

Music Ideas Stuff for Next Week

In order to give you time to work on your first project due in one week (Thursday 9/29), we’ll spend next week on Musical Ideas and there will be no assignment or quiz. So here’s some reading, if you’d like to read about what we’ll talk about in class next week.

An important disclaimer about this information. We’ll be listening to music and talking about musicians (and scholars) talk about making music. My goal is to introduce you to some music theory (the academic study of how music is organized and structured, etc.), but I don’t expect you to memorize it or necessarily even apply it (unless you want you). So, do with it what you will.

Reading for Tuesday 9/27

On Tuesday we’ll be learning about song form. Please read this page on my music resources. You’ll learn about three (of many) ways songs are structured in time and listen to four songs along the way. We’ll apply these ideas to other songs during class on Tuesday.

Reading for Thursday 9/29 (Be prepared to play and Sing music)

On Thursday we’ll be learning about harmony. Please read this page for this class. You’ll learn about two basic progressions. The blues uses three chords, while doo-wop progressions use four chords. You might be surprised how much music is based on looping chords in these short repeated patterns. I’d like to have us make music together this day in class, so if you have a portable instrument, bring it if you like. It should be a lot of fun!

See you in class and on Tuesday!


9/20 Cover Songs Assignment Due Thursday; Project 1 Due Next Thursday

I hope you found our class comparing the original and cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and analyzing the reviews of Swift’s 1989 and Adams’s 1989 helpful for the review assignment that is due for Thursday’s class (9/22). Use these reviews (and others) as a guide to write your own. See the previous post for specifics for the assignment. I mentioned that I would find reviews of critics who are women reviewing Swift. Here are two if you would like to read them.

Also remember that your first project is due Next Thursday (9/22). See earlier posts for information.

See you on Thursday!


9/14 Cover Songs

I enjoyed our class covering singer-songerwriters you chose today. (If you want to watch the SNL Short that features Justin Timberlake “Dick in a Box” that I couldn’t find on YouTube, here’s a link.) Now it’s time for us to look forward for next week’s topic: Cover Songs. Here’s a listening list, readings, and assignment.

Cover Songs Listening List

The following listening list is of 10 covers. I tell you the artists for the original songs, but the originals are not on the playlist, and you only need to know the covers for the quiz.

Spotify playlist | YouTube playlist

  • Joe Cocker, “With a Little Help from My Friends” (1968) [Originally by The Beatles (1967)]
  • Ike & Tina Turner, “Proud Mary” (1971) [Originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)]
  • Devo, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1977) [Originally by The Rolling Stones (1965)]
  • George Benson, “On Broadway” (1978) [Originally by The Drifters (1963)]
  • Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You” (1992) [Originally by Dolly Parton (1974)]
  • The Fugees, “Killing Me Softly” (1996) [Originally by Robert Flack (1973)]
  • Tori Amos, “Raining Blood” (2001) [Originally by Slayer (1986)]
  • Dixie Chicks, “Landslide” (2002) [Originally by Fleetwood Mac (1975)]
  • Johnny Cash, “Hurt” (2003) [Originally by Nine Inch Nails (1995)]
  • Ryan Adams, “Bad Blood” (2015) [Originally by Taylor Swift (2014)]

Cover Songs Readings (For Tuesday)

Ryan Adams made a strange choice to cover the entirety of Taylor Swift’s 2014 album 1989 in 2015. We’ll use these albums as a microcosm to look into cover songs and to read a quintessential kind of music writing: reviews. Please read the following two reviews for Tuesday’s class (9/20).

Cover Songs Assignment (Due Thursday)

  • Due Thursday 9/22.
  • Write a short review (try for about 250 words) of one of our listening list cover songs above.
  • In your review, compare your chosen cover song with the listed original. We’ll be talking about different aspects of songs to write about in class on Tuesday, if you need some guidance on how to compare them.
  • You can also use the reviews you’ll read about 1989 as examples.
  • We’ll use your reviews as aides for our discussion on cover songs on Thursday, and I’ll collect them to read at the end of class.

See you on Tuesday!


9/13 Project 1 Due Date, More Topics, Assignment due Thursday

I hope you enjoyed our discussion of singer-songwriters today. Your assignment covering one singer-songwriter is due Thursday. Follow the same procedures from our Classic Rock assignment (see the previous post below).

Project 1

As we decided today in class, your first project is now due on Thursday 9/29 (rather than the previous due date on the syllabus). Check the syllabus for information about what expected for the project.

New Topics and Updated Calendar

We also chose four new topics today in class. Here is an updated calendar.

  • Topic 3: Singer-Songwriters
    • 9/13 Today (Quiz 3)
    • 9/15 Singer-Songwriter Assignment due
  • Topic 4: Cover Songs
    • 9/20 Quiz 4
    • 9/22
  • Musical Ideas (No Quiz this week)
    • 9/27 Song Forms
    • 9/29 Harmony; Project 1 due
  • Topic 5: Movie Scores
    • 10/4 Quiz 5
    • 10/6
  • Topic 6: TV Show Theme Songs
    • 10/11 Quiz 6
    • 10/13
  • Topic 7: Hip-Hop and Rap
    • 10/18 Quiz 7
    • 10/20
  • A Couple of One Off Days (No Quiz this week)
    • 10/25 Hopefully Chris O’Neill on Punk Music
    • 10/27 Project 2 due

Let me know if you have any questions.

See you on Thursday!


9/8 Singer-Songwriters and Popularity Stuff

Today’s class on the bands and artists you chose to make handouts went really well. Now, here are the materials for our next topic: Singer-Songwriters and Popularity.

Singer-Songwriters Listening List

For this list I chose a very narrow definition of singer-songwriter that focuses on a particular tradition that goes back to folk music origins (Woody Guthrie is an early well-known exponent) to be able to make the list quickly. A broader definition that steps outside of this style could include any musician who sings songs they write (and can even front a band that focuses on this individual). This broader definition would include artists as different as soul master Stevie Wonder, rock legend Bruce Springsteen, country diva Dolly Parton, the jazz-tinged Norah Jones, and the very strange Tom Waits.

Spotify playlist | YouTube playlist

    • Bob Dylan, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (1963)
    • James Taylor, “Carolina in My Mind” (1968)
    • Carole King, “So Far Away” (1971)
    • Joni Mitchell, “River” (1971)
    • Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car” (1988)
    • Jeff Buckley, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” (1994)
    • Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know” (1995)
    • Imogen Heap, “Hide and Seek” (2005)
    • Regina Spektor, “Fidelity” (2006)
    • Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud” (2015)

Singer-Songerwriters reading (for Tuesday)

Please read this PDF printout that includes two articles listed below. Print it if you so choose. Make sure you read the intro sections to get historical context.

      • “Carole King: ‘You Can Get to Know Me through My Music'” by Robert Windeler from Stereo Music Review 30 in May 1973.
      • “Joni Mitchell: An Interview (part 1)” by Penny Valentine from Sounds on June 3, 1972.

Singer-Songerwriters ASSIGNMENT (DUE THURSDAY)

      • Due Thursday 9/15.
      • Please choose one Singer-Songwriter of any era (except Carole King or Joni Mitchell since we are reading about them).
      • Follow the same procedure as this week’s assignment on Classic Rock listed below.

Let me know if you have any questions.

See you on Tuesday!


9/1 Classic Rock Stuff

Now that we’ve talked about YouTube Musicians, we need to prepare to talk about Classic Rock next week. I have three things for you: a listening list, a reading for Tuesday, and an assignment due Thursday.

Classic Rock listening List

For the quiz at the beginning of class on Tuesday, make sure you know each song’s title and artist as listed below. You don’t need the year for the quiz, I list it for context. Notice that I list songs in quotes. Any albums we study will be in italics (ex. The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan).

Spotify playlistYouTube playlist

        • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)
        • The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1969)
        • Led Zeppelin, “Black Dog” (1971)
        • Aerosmith, “Sweet Emotion” (1975)
        • Heart, “Crazy on You” (1976)
        • Journey, “Wheel in the Sky” (1978)
        • The Pretenders, “Middle of the Road” (1983)
        • U2, “With or Without You” (1987)
        • Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’” (1989)
        • Metallica, “Enter Sandman” (1991)

Classic Rock Reading (for Tuesday)

Please read the following web article for class on Tuesday (9/6). Print it if you would like to have it at hand during our discussion in class.

Classic Rock Assignment (due Thursday)

      • Due Thursday 9/8.
      • Please choose one Classic Rock band or solo artist.
      • Your job is to make a handout for your colleagues about your chosen band or artist. How you do this is up to you.
      • Your goal is to fit it on one sided of one printed page. If you need to go onto the back, that’s okay.
      • Make your handout, and either email it to me by 3pm on Thursday 9/8, or make 12 copies and bring them to class.
      • We will discuss your chosen bands and artists in class as a group. You will telling your colleagues about what you learned and sharing songs.

Let me know if you have any questions.

See you on Tuesday,


8/30 YouTube Musicians continued, Practice Quiz Thursday

I hope you enjoyed our first day talking about YouTube Musicians. We’ll spend most of next class talking about your chosen artists and songs.

On Thursday, I will give a practice listening quiz, which will be graded on participation. If you’re there, you get full credit. This is so you get a handle on the format before we do our first graded quiz next week with Classic Rock.

See you on Thursday,


8/25 Topics Chosen, YouTube Musicians next week

I hope you’ve enjoyed our first two days of class so far. [Updated: here’s the “Hound Dog” playlist I made for today’s class.] If you haven’t yet, please take the online survey so I know a little about you and your musical interests. Below are the topics we chose today, and what you need to do before next Tuesday.


We’ve chosen our first three topics. Here they are in order:

      1. YouTube Musicians (8/30, 9/1)
      2. Classic Rock (9/6, 9/8) We’ll do our first listening quiz with this topic.
      3. Singer-Songwriters and Popularity (9/13, 9/15)

To Do for Tuesday (8/30)

Please choose a YouTube musician or two to discuss in class on Tuesday. I’ll ask you for a song example for the ones we talk about, so have a song video in mind for us to watch.

See you on Tuesday!


8/23 Syllabus and First Day Survey

Welcome to Rock & Popular Music! I hope we will have a fun semester together. In the meantime, you have three things to do before Thursday.

      1. Please read the Syllabus linked to at the top of the page. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about it.
      2. Fill out this online First Day Survey to tell my a little about yourself and the music you listen to. This survey is your first assignment. It is graded on participation.
      3. Be prepared to discuss what topics you would like to cover over the next few weeks on Thursday.

See you on Thursday!