Want to learn more about other 33 1/3 bestsellers? Here's a smattering of pop culture-friendly hits from Bloomsbury's line of short books about popular music.
It may be just under three minutes of music, but the sounds that accompany Italian plumbers Mario and Luigi as they try to rescue a princess from an evil king in the Mushroom Kingdom are unforgettable. The score of the 1985 video game put to rest an era of bleeps and bloops, replacing it with one in which game sounds constituted a legitimate form of artistic expression.
Andrew Schartmann, a faculty member at the New England Conservatory, explores the distinct "Mario Sound" in this volume, explaining how Koji Kondo redefined video game music, creating something that still makes our hearts dance to the “primitive” 8-bit tunes of a bygone era.
The breakout 1982 LP from the Birmingham-born band represented new wave at its height, arguably better than any other album. In this slender volume, freelance journalist Annie Zaleski explains how the retro-futuristic sound of Rio left its mark on everything from disco to glam, and put Duran Duran at the center of an MTV-driven second British invasion.
Pegged by conservatives as the proof of the decline of family values, championed by gay men (still reeling from the AIDS epidemic) as a celebration of sexual culture, and intended by its creator to be scandalously press-worthy, Madonna's 1992 album is, according to Beloit College assistant professor Michael Dango, more sentimental than porgnographic.
Whatever the intention, the album was-and is-central to a developing consciousness about cultural appropriation. While Erotica may have been offered up as a key entry in the 1990s culture wars, Dango argues that it speaks more urgently to the culture wars of today.
In the 1970s, something interesting started happening with music marketed to tweens and teens. It began challenging the status quo it was created to represent. As male pop stars like David Cassidy appeared in suggestive spreads in popular magazines and Cher landed her own TV show, their music allowed young people to believe they had something all their own. There was an authenticity to it, dressed up in glitter and satin, blue jeans and boom boxes, torn fishnets and safety pins.
In this 33 1/3, author and journalist Lucretia Tye Jasmine explains how liberation, and a true counterculture, can be possible through music.