Featured

In Conversation with Noel Gallagher.

It was a pleasure to interview Noel Gallagher at the iconic venue of Salford Lads Club – which is run by volunteers – with all profits from the evening going to support the youth club and the building itself. Tickets sold out in just one minute.

Former Manchester City player Paul Lake introduced the event.

During his career Noel has mixed with musical legends, one such icon being David Bowie. “He’s one of the all-time greats,” he said. “One of my biggest regrets is that I met him once and I was a bit too stupid to appreciate him. Someone came up to me and said “David would like to see you and I was like, ‘Of course he would!” I wish I had the opportunity to meet him now again.”

As a someone who wrote lasting hits such as Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger and Live Forever (the latter being voted as the Best British Song Ever in a poll by Radio X last year), you’d wonder what was left to achieve for the 52-year-old musician.

“I’m still trying to write the greatest song of all time,” said Noel. “I know that sounds a little pretentious but that’s what keeps me going. I’m not driven by anything other than music. I just want to keep doing it with enthusiasm and I’m still trying to write the greatest song.”

The event was a great success with £8,500 raised for Salford Lad’s Club.

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/funeral-songs-madonna-gatecrashing-50th-17164257

Special Issue Interactions Journal: ‘Dream Factories: Prince, Sign O’ The Times, Box Sets & Cultural Artefacts.’

Special Issue of the Intellect Journal Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture: ‘Dream Factories: Prince, Sign O’ The Times, Box Sets & Cultural Artefacts.’

Deadline for abstracts: Friday 28 May 2021. Deadline for final submission: Friday 8 October, 2021.

The guest editors – Dr Kirsty Fairclough (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Prof. Mike Alleyne (Middle Tennessee State University) – are seeking abstracts for papers that examine the expansive super deluxe Sign O’ The Times 2020 box set.

The essays will explore its multiple levels of musical and cultural significance, while critiquing the value of its presence as a commercial artefact and a signifier of Prince’s creative legacy in the context of previous posthumous deluxe edition reissues. Following Prince’s death in 2016, his estate embarked on a series of reissued albums and new compilations, inclusive of previously unreleased material. In its original form in 1987, Sign O’ The Times became one of Prince’s most critically acclaimed records while also being his second double album and a major commercial success. In this special journal issue, the 2020 box set with eight discs of music and a live DVD provides multiple opportunities for critical reassessment of both the album and its posthumous inclusion of rare and/or previously unreleased items.

This issue will explore the ways in which the box set has become part of a parallel Prince career which allows fans and critics to reassess his output and provides a new lens through which to understand the album as cultural artefact. With this central focus, the specific analytical angles will be left to the individual contributors, defining what they perceive as the key characteristics of this deluxe edition compilation and its comparative relationships to earlier catalogue reissues.

Such discussion will primarily incorporate the following:

• The extent to which the 2020 deluxe Sign O’ The Times box expands and/or enhances our understanding of Prince’s creative process and compositional evolution.

• The relationship of the release to the estate’s ongoing reissue series.

• The resonance of the album’s musical, cultural and other artistic statements several decades later.

• The explicitly commercial transaction integrated into the sale and marketing of previously released or unreleased material.

While authors may theorise across the range of the full range of official posthumous Prince album releases since 2016, each essay must provide comparison and contrast with the Sign O’ The Times album collection as the analytical axis of the project.

The scope of these releases facilitates discussion of compilations, live performances, demos, and customised recordings not originally intended for general commercial issue. To varying degrees, the deluxe Sign O’ The Times boxed set also contains all of these elements and serves as an ideal fulcrum for critical evaluation of the overall existing body of Prince reissues.

Contributor analysis may also consider the status of Prince albums not yet included in the reissue series, contemplating artistic, cultural and commercial matters potentially surrounding their absence to date.

We welcome contributions from academics, practitioners and practice-based researchers. Joint proposals and proposals from emerging scholars are encouraged. The maximum article length is 6,000 words.

This journal edition is scheduled for publication in late February 2022.

In the first instance, abstracts of 250 words with a 100-word biography should be sent to Dr Kirsty Fairclough at Manchester Metropolitan University, K.Fairclough@mmu.ac.uk , and Prof. Mike Alleyne at Middle Tennessee State University, mike.alleyne@mtsu.edu, no later than Friday 28 May 2021. Potential contributors will be contacted by Friday 18 June 2021 and are required to submit the first version of their completed contributions, in full, by Friday 8 October, 2021.

The guest editors of the special issue may be contacted for further information as follows: Dr Kirsty Fairclough: K.Fairclough@mmu.ac.uk Prof. Mike Alleyne: mike.alleyne@mtsu.edu

Podcast Episode: Comms from the Shed – Sam Bleazard in conversation with Dr Kirsty Fairclough, Manchester Metropolitan University.

It was a delight to talk to Sam Bleazard for his Comms from the Shed podcast series where Sam talks to a range of diverse voices about their response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, their health and wellbeing, creativity in adverse times, and our shared hopes for the future.

Prince and Popular Music: Critical Perspectives on an Interdisciplinary Life

After three years of development, I am absolutely delighted to announce the publication of Prince and Popular Music. The book emerged from the world’s first conference on the life and legacy of Prince which myself and Professor Mike Alleyne organised at the University of Salford.

In this text, we provide an academic examination of Prince, encompassing the many layers of his cultural and creative impact. We assess Prince’s life and legacy holistically, exploring his multiple identities and the ways in which they were manifested through his recorded catalogue and audiovisual personae. In the seventeen essays organised thematically, we include a diverse range of contributions – taking ethnographic, musicological, sociological, gender studies and cultural studies approaches to analysing Prince’s career.

Table of contents:

Part One Sound and Vision

  1. Baby, I’m a Star: Prince’s Purple Rain
    Jason Wood, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
  2. Under the Cherry Moon: Prince as His Most Authentic Self
    De Angela L. Duff, New York University, USA
  3. Before the Rain, 1980-1984: How Prince Got ‘The Look’
    Casci Ritchie, Independent Scholar, UK
  4. Prettyman in the Mirror: Dandyism in Prince’s Minneapolis
    Karen Turman, Harvard University, USA
  5. The Sound of Purple: Prince and the Development of Minneapolis Sound
    Maciej Smólka, Jagiellonian University, Poland
    Part Two Purple Performance and Presence
  6. Glam Slammed: Visual Identity in Prince’s Lovesexy
    Mike Alleyne, Middle Tennessee State University, USA, and Kirsty Fairclough, University of Salford, UK
  7. For You: The Neglected Guitar Style of Prince
    Michael Ugrich, University of South Dakota, USA
  8. To Make Purple, You Need Blue: Prince as Embodiment of the Postmodern Blues Aesthetic
    Tom Attah, Leeds Arts University, UK
  9. ‘Tears Go Here’: Commemorating the Minneapolis Prince and the International Prince
    Suzanne Wint, Independent Scholar, USA
    Part Three Gender
  10. Re-Imagining Masculinity: Prince’s Impact on Millennial Attitudes Regarding Gender Expression
    Natalie Clifford, Independent Scholar, USA
  11. ‘We Can’t Hate You, Because We Love You’: A Look at Prince, Queerness, Misogyny and Feminism
    Leah Stone McDaniel, Independent Scholar, USA, and Shannan Wilson, Virginia Union University, USA
  12. “Flying Aboard the Seduction 747”: Prince, Humour and Horizontal Erotics
    Annie Potts, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  13. When Were You Mine?: Prince’s Legacy in the Context of Transgender History
    Joy Ellison, Ohio State University, USA
    Part Four Politics and Race
  14. Prince: Introduction of a New Breed Leader
    Kamilah Cummings, DePaul University, USA
  15. ‘Microchip in Your Neck’: Prince’s ‘War’
    Zack Stiegler, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA
  16. Prince: Conscious and Strategic Representations of Race
    Twila L. Perry, Rutgers University School of Law, USA
  17. It’s All About What’s in Your Mind: The Origins of Prince’s Political Consciousness
    Crystal N. Wise, University of Michigan, USA

Thank you to all of our wonderful contributors for your work in keeping Prince’s legacy alive and introducing him to a new generation.

We are grateful to have have had some wonderful reviews for the book so far.

“Prince and Popular Music interrogates how each changed the other, offering a spectrum of approaches to an iconographic and enigmatic presence who graced any number of vibrant culture scenes with 40 years of innovation and invention. The contributors to this book got the music, and they got the look.” – Benjamin Halligan, Director of the Doctoral College, University of Wolverhampton, UK

“In a detailed examination of one of the most important and eclectic popular artists of all time, Alleyne and Fairclough curate a wide range of perspectives which detail music, aesthetics, representation and politics. This impressively comprehensive study is essential to any study of Prince but is also an important contribution to musicology, celebrity studies, American studies, issues of identity, gender, race and more. The significance of Prince is reflected in the significance of this book.” – Robert Edgar, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, York St John University, UK, and co-editor of Music, Memory and Memoir (Bloomsbury, 2019)

“This collection from the first-ever Prince symposium offers a compelling look into a wealth of interdisciplinary research inspired by and devoted to a pop artist of rare depth and complexity. The diversity of scholarship herein is a fitting tribute to Prince’s opulent creativity and unbound persona.” – Albin Zak, Professor of Music, University at Albany, USA

More information can be found here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/prince-and-popular-music-9781501354656/

School of Digital Arts (SODA)

It feels odd to share good news when so many people are suffering, but it’s now official, I’m moving on from the University of Salford in July. Salford has been such a massive part of my life- over half in fact! Back in 1995, as an undergraduate Media and Performance student, I fell in love with the place and it’s people there and then. Since that time, I moved on to the FE sector and returned to my beloved old Adelphi Building as a lecturer in 2005 and have undertaken a number of roles since, most recently as Associate Dean in the shiny New Adelphi.

But new beginnings are beckoning and I’m delighted to be joining the new School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University as part of the leadership team looking after Knowledge Exchange and Business Development and as Reader in Screen Studies.

It’s been an immense privilege and pleasure to work with so many talented, dedicated people, many of whom are my dear friends and who will remain so.

Supermodels of the World: RuPaul’s Drag Race as International Phenomenon symposium

Due to disruptions caused by the current Coronavirus crisis, we have extended the deadline for abstracts for the 25th September 2020 symposium- Supermodels of the World: RuPaul’s Drag Race as International Phenomenon.

Dependent on further developments, online participation may become our primary method for all to engage in this one day event. We will, of course, update accordingly.

———————

Call for Papers:

Supermodels of the World: RuPaul’s Drag Race as International Phenomenon
A One-Day Interdisciplinary Symposium

School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK.
25th September 2020

Since its 2009 debut, RuPaul’s Drag Race has shifted from a niche American reality show anomaly to an award-winning global success. This one day symposium will examine its international reach with versions of the contest created in the UK, Thailand and Canada alongside, titular host, Rupaul having already hinted at further growth when teasingly asking journalists “how many countries are there?”.

As a major popular culture event, panels will look to ascertain whether Drag Race – as the dominant depiction of drag in this early part of the 21st Century – represents an expansion or the homogenization of this aspect of LGBTQ+ culture. For example, have the geographical diversions within this TV show (journeying from Cameroon to Northern Ireland, South Korea to Puerto Rico) provided an opportunity to showcase localized interpretations, performances or incarnations? Or has this all-conquering drag empire imposed its own hegemony.

We invite abstracts of up to 250 words by Monday 22nd June 2020.

Possible themes could include (but are not limited to):

Race and cultural identities/experiences within Drag Race.
The local, regional and global impact of Drag Race on scenes.
Social media, fandom and worldwide drag celebrity.
International marketing/consumerism of drag stardom: from DragCon to related TV offerings (Dancing Queen, Drag U, The Trixie and Katya Show, Drag SOS, Dragula, etc).
Drag Race and its place within global LGBTQ+ history.
The lexicon of drag and developments of language/vocabulary.

Please send abstracts by 22nd June 2020 to Dr Danny Cookney D.J.Cookney@salford.ac.uk and Dr Kirsty Fairclough K.Fairclough@salford.ac.uk

The Legacy of Mad Men Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television.

In 2016, I co-organised Mad Men: The Conference at Middle Tenneesee State University, near Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The conference brought together scholars from around the world to discuss the cultural impact of the television series. This book is a collection of essays from the conference and is dedicated to the memory of Professor David Lavery, our co-organiser and a renowned television scholar who passed away shortly after the conference and who is sadly missed.

For seven seasons, viewers worldwide watched as ad man Don Draper moved from adultery to self-discovery, secretary Peggy Olson became a take-no-prisoners businesswoman, object-of-the-gaze Joan Holloway developed a feminist consciousness, executive Roger Sterling tripped on LSD, and smarmy Pete Campbell became a surprisingly nice guy. Mad Men defined a pivotal moment for television, earning an enduring place in the medium’s history.

Our edited collection examines the enduringly popular television series as Mad Men still captivates audiences and scholars in its nuanced depiction of a complex decade. This is the first book to offer an analysis of Mad Men in its entirety, exploring the cyclical and episodic structure of the long form series and investigating issues of representation, power and social change. The collection establishes the show’s legacy in televisual terms, and brings it up to date through an examination of its cultural importance in the Trump era. Aimed at scholars and interested general readers, the book illustrates the ways in which Mad Men has become a cultural marker for reflecting upon contemporary television and politics.

Girls on Film Live Podcast Recording

It was a pleasure to join host Anna Smith, BBC Asian Network’s Ashanti Omkar and Waad al-Kateab, director of the incredible documentary For Sama, to review current releases and discuss classic films from a female perspective.

We previewed HOME’s Not Just Bollywood season, Jeanie Finlay’s Seahorse and paid tribute to the great Juliette Binoche by discussing some of her most entertaining and provocative work.

Listen on iTunes here:

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ep-20-for-sama-seahorse-juliette-binoche-bechdel-test/id1439182513?i=1000448831410

SOUND AND VISION: Pop Stars on Film at HOME, Manchester.

Sound and Vision: Pop Stars on Film, July-August 2019

From the relatively early days of cinema, popular music figures have made forays into acting. Sound and Vision: Pop Stars On Film offers an overview of some of the most influential performances from a diverse range of cultural icons.

Co-curated by Dr. Kirsty Fairclough, University of Salford and Jason Wood Creative Director: Film and Culture at HOME.

Thanks:

Barry Adamson, Omar Ahmed, Mark Cousins, Fraser Elliott, Jennifer Hall, Rachel Hayward, Steve Jenkins, Bob Stanley, Andy Starke, Peter Strickland, Andy Willis.

In partnership with MUBI.

Pop Cultures: Women, Music and Celebrity at Celebrity Culture Club, AllBright, Mayfair, London.

It was a pleasure to speak at Celebrity Culture Club at the AllBright, Mayfair on Women, music and celebrity. The evening interrogated women’s status in the music industry from a variety of perspectives. In essence, the panel discussed the ways in which pop music culture circulates representations of women that both shape and reflect their role in pop culture. At both ends of the spectrum it is a site for some of the most regressive gender tropes and some of the most excitingly resistant, norm-shattering responses to them.

I shared the stage with the following fabulous women:

Ayse Hassan, the bassist for Mercury Prize shortlisted, all-female post-punk band, Savages. She makes music in collaborations Kite Base and 180db and solo as ESYA.
Maxie Gedge does Communications for PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading funder for new music and talent development. She is the Director of the record label Gravy, and the drummer for both angry pop girl group Graceland and Current Bond. She has an MMus in Sonic Arts, has worked for festivals, venues and talent development organisations, programmed hundreds of new music shows, and promotes and DJs at queer dance parties.
Carla Marie Williams, Songwriter on Beyonce’s Grammy winning album Lemonade
Chair: Dr Hannah Yelin Senior Lecturer in Media and Culture, Oxford Brookes University.