Medium Cool

Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones

Medium Cool

Book Pages: 360 Illustrations: 51 b&w photos, 4 tables Published: September 2007

Cultural Studies, Media Studies > TV, Music > Popular Music

Music videos are available on more channels, in more formats, and in more countries than ever before. While MTV—the network that introduced music video to most viewers—is moving away from music video programming, other media developments signal the longevity and dynamism of the form. Among these are the proliferation of niche-based cable and satellite channels, the globalization of music video production and programming, and the availability of videos not just on television but also via cell phones, DVDs, enhanced CDs, PDAs, and the Internet. In the context of this transformed media landscape, Medium Cool showcases a new generation of scholarship on music video. Scholars of film, media, and music revisit and revise existing research as they provide historically and theoretically expansive new perspectives on music video as a cultural form.

The essays take on a range of topics, including questions of authenticity, the tension between high-art influences and mass-cultural appeal, the prehistory of music video, and the production and dissemination of music videos outside the United States. Among the thirteen essays are a consideration of how the rapper Jay-Z uses music video as the primary site for performing, solidifying, and discarding his various personas; an examination of the recent emergence of indigenous music video production in Papua New Guinea; and an analysis of the cultural issues being negotiated within Finland’s developing music video industry. Contributors explore precursors to contemporary music videos, including 1950s music television programs such as American Bandstand, Elvis’s internationally broadcast 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert, and different types of short musical films that could be viewed in “musical jukeboxes” of the 1940s and 1960s. Whether theorizing music video in connection to postmodernism or rethinking the relation between sound and the visual image, the essays in Medium Cool reveal music video as rich terrain for further scholarly investigation.

Contributors. Roger Beebe, Norma Coates, Kay Dickinson, Cynthia Fuchs, Philip Hayward, Amy Herzog, Antti-Ville Kärjä, Melissa McCartney, Jason Middleton, Lisa Parks, Kip Pegley, Maureen Turim, Carol Vernallis, Warren Zanes


Medium Cool will be indispensable for those studying music video, as well as of interest to anyone interested the effect the internet and third generation mobile phone technologies on how audio-visual material is accessed. It may also be of general interest to fans of the music video form, and the fact that many of the videos analysed in Medium Cool are available on YouTube makes reading this book a great pleasure. This, as much as anything else, marks this book as initiating a new era in music video scholarship.” — Matthew Campora, M/C Reviews

“A timely volume. . . . Medium Cool features two excellent essays on the audio-visuality of Elvis Presley.“ — Darren Tofts, Screening the Past

“The essays are intriguing and draw on a combination of music-video scholarship, television studies, popular music studies, and popular musicology. . . . This is a book for those interested in intersections between music and visual cultures and aesthetics. Highly recommended.” — M. Goldsmith, Choice

“Perhaps most intriguing is how this collection illustrates the possibilities for music videos to enlarge our understanding of the potential for the construction of meaning via their particular forms of narrative. . . . Medium Cool helps us see how the music video, by pairing song and visual, opens up new perspectives on postmodern criticism.” — J. O’Neill, Afterimage

“Roger Beebe and Jason Middleton’s omnibus of thought-provoking—and in several cases canon-altering—essays are poised to correct the ‘‘myopia’’ of long-entrenched scholarship on the music video. . . . This is a refreshing and pleasurable compilation which should revitalize and reposition discussions of the music video.” — Michael T. Spencer, Popular Music and Society

“This book, well documented and carefully edited, seems to be a major contribution to the literature of popular music and its visual forms. One comes away from it with a greater appreciation for the innovativeness and the challenges involved with this art form.” — Jack Estes, Journal of American Culture

“What makes Medium Cool particularly interesting for scholars and relevant for music video studies is its combination of historical grounding and theoretical innovation in a wide variety of contexts.” — Paula Cordeiro, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

“What makes this anthology especially interesting is its long historical view to the 1950s’ predecessors of what would become the music video.” — Chris Sterling, Communication Booknotes Quarterly

Medium Cool reopens the long-dormant field of music video studies in sharp and insightful ways. With a keen eye on questions of history, aesthetics, and globalization, the essays collected here lay out a bold new map for how future scholars should approach the study of music video in the post-MTV age.” — Gilbert B. Rodman, author of Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend

“Roger Beebe and Jason Middleton’s Medium Cool is a valuable and timely anthology that moves the scholarly discussion of music video beyond MTV, exploring the past, present, and future of the medium. It also introduces readers to important new voices in music and media studies.” — Gayle F. Wald, author of Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

“This lively collection brings music video studies up to date and expands its analytical horizons. One of the book’s great strengths is the methodological clarity of the articles assembled here, making this a very useful collection for teaching purposes. Even more impressively, this book moves beyond MTV in several important directions. It charts the international circulation of music video, provides background on understudied historical ancestors of the video clip, and introduces readers to emerging genres of audiovisual expression. This volume will be the new standard work on music video.” — Will Straw, author of Cyanide and Sin: Visualizing Crime in 50s America


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Roger Beebe is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the English Department at the University of Florida. He is a coeditor of Rock Over the Edge: Transformations in Popular Music Culture, also published by Duke University Press.

Jason Middleton is an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies in the English Department at the University of Rochester.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Index 345

Introduction / Jason Middleton and Roger Beebe 1

Music Video and Synaesthetic Possibility / Kay Dickinson 13

Illustrating Music: The Impossible Embodiments of the Jukebox Film / Amy Herzog 30

The Audio-Vision of Found-Footage Film and Video / Jason Middleton

Art/Music/ / Maureen Turim 83

Strange People, Weird Objects: The Nature of Narrativity, Character, and Editing in Music Videos / Carol Vernallis 111

Dancing to a Pacific Beat: Music Video in Papua New Guinea / Philip Hayward 152

Visions of a Sound Nation: Finnish Music Videos and Secured Otherness / Antti-Ville Karja 174

“Coming to You Wherever You Are”: Exploring the Imagined Communities of Muchmusic (Canada) and MTV (United States) / Kip Pegley 200

Elvis from the Waist Up and Other Myths: 1950s Music Television and the Gendering of Rock Discourse / Norma Coates 226

Elvis Goes Global: Aloha! Elvis Live Via Satellite and Music/Tourism/Television / Lisa Parks and Melissa McCartney 252

Video and the Theater of Purity / Warren Zanes 269

“I’m From Rags to Riches”: The Death of Jay-Z / Cynthia Fuchs 290

Paradoxes of Pastiche: Spike Jonze, Hype Williams, and the Race of the Postmodern Auteur / Roger Beebe 303

Bibliography 329

Contributors 341
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4162-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4139-0
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