The stark black and white of Madonna’s “Vogue” and the pinks and sparkles of “Material Girl.” The lavish cinematic spectacle of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and the blatant product placement and in-your-face sexuality of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.” The explosive surprise launches of Beyoncé's BEYONCÉ and Lemonade visual albums. Since MTV’s advent in 1981, hit music videos have made a number of pop songs inextricable from the iconic imagery of their videos; ubiquitous digital devices and the rise of YouTube have only increased the audiovisuality of pop music.
What happens when we look at, as well as listen to, female pop icons? Taking pop music video seriously means getting entangled in fraught questions of agency, representation, race, sexuality/sexualization, bodies, commodification, and capital. In this course, students will gain a vocabulary for talking about both the audio and visual parameters of music video, and they will put this vocabulary to use, engaging with critical frameworks for examining meaning, circulation, and reception in contemporary music videos.