Nothing Has Been Done Before: Seeking the New in 21st-Century American Popular Music

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UPC: 9781501322020
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Author: Robert Loss
  • Series: Alternate Takes: Critical Responses to Popular Music
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; Paperback edition (November 2, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501322028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501322020
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

Is there such a thing today as music that's meaningfully new? In our contemporary era of remixing and retro styles, cynics and romantics alike cry "It's all been done before" while record labels and media outlets proclaim that everything is new. Coded into our daily conversations about popular music, newness as an artistic and cultural value is too often taken for granted.

Nothing Has Been Done Before instigates a fresh debate about newness in American pop, rock 'n' roll, rap, folk, and R&B made since the turn of the millennium. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that combines music criticism, philosophy, and the literary essay, Robert Loss follows the stories of a diverse cast of musicians who seek the new by wrestling with the past, navigating the market, and speaking politically. The transgressions of Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft". The pop spectacle of Katy Perry's 2015 Super Bowl halftime show. Protest songs against the war in Iraq. Nothing Has Been Done Before argues that performance heard in a historical context always creates a possibility for newness, whether it's Kendrick Lamar's multi-layered To Pimp a Butterfly, the Afrofuturist visions of Janelle Monáe, or even a Guided By Voices tribute concert in a local dive bar.

Provocative and engaging, Nothing Has Been Done Before challenges nothing less than how we hear and think about popular music-its power and its potential.


"Robert Loss's writing is characterized by unstoppable historical curiosity, true storytelling, and the unusual combination of intellectual ambition and modesty--all qualities that play out with incisive strength in Nothing Has Been Done Before." – Greil Marcus

About the Author

Robert Loss is an assistant professor in Writing, Literature, and Philosophy at Columbus College of Art and Design, USA.