You know you are part of a subculture when… (Sunday Sociological Song)

Emo-goths, campus jocks, hardcore rockers, leather queers, computer geeks, superhero buffs… you probably know at least one member of a subculture. Hell, you probably ARE a member of a subculture.

Well, in social sciences we’ve been studying you and your friends for years. We even have a set of established theoretical references. Antonio Gramsci’s ‘cultural hegemony’ (1930). David Riesman’s cultural majority/subversive subcultures split (1950). Dick Hebdige’ ‘style’ as an identity-building device (1979). Serious stuff, you see. And then we have Pixies frontman Black Francis, who in 1991 wrote this song, which pretty much summarizes the entire research field in a simple message: “It’s all about the clothes you wear to impress the person you fancy, and the drugs you use to facilitate sexual intercourse”. Damn straight social analysis.


What has country music ever done for urban sociology? (Sunday Sociological Song)

Ready for another installment of our cross-blog Sunday Sociological Song? This week, I was looking for a song illustrating Nels Anderson’s classic, The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man (1923).  Now of course, the first thought goes to Like a Hobo by Charlie Winston. But sincerely, that was too obvious a choice.

Instead I picked an old Merle Haggard‘s hit, I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am. I’m sure you will appreciate the irony of a country musician so thoroughly conveying the atmosphere of the “urban jungle” of Chicago.


This week in Anomie (Sunday Sociological Song)

Quick background information: after Tom Leher delivered his infamous “Sociology” song, we were pretty much sure that music and social science did  not really belong together. Luckily for us, a couple of years ago, people at Scatterplot blog came up with a nice idea: trading sociologically-meaningful songs.  How would you deal with – I dunno – social stratification or racial segregation in musical terms?

The seed was planted and, as of last July, Josh McCabe started a Sunday Sociological Song series on his Sociological Imagination blog. Following the example of SocProf, who himself contributed a song, I’m willing to submit an old piece by anarcho-punk British band Crass: Reject of Society is, in my opinion, a pretty literal illustration of Durkheim’s anomie – one that could be used safely in undergrad teaching. Anyone willing to explore other topics?


If you miss the sound of vuvuzelas, try listening to Die Antwoord!

I, for one, am not much of a football fan. But I have to admit that this year’s World Cup has been a mesmerizing spectacle. Not because of the actual playing (and not because of French team debacle, so aptly analyzed by SocProf), but mainly because of the soundscape. For me vuvuzelas were, like, you know, Luigi Russolo’s “Art of noises” and emergentist theory of human action rolled into one. Don’t get me started on that, because I could go on and on for days and – beyond this blog, you know, I have a life.

So, for those of you that miss that disturbing, spitty, heartfelt, proletarian sound, here’s a – seemingly unrelated – piece of South African culture: rap-rave music, as instantiated by Die Antwoord, the hottest band of the moment [of course, mildly NSFW].

Taxijam presents Die Antwoord from taxijam on Vimeo.

“Here in South Africa the taxis play rave music fokken loud my bru. You can hear it from the next city when the taxi comes through, you hear DOOM DOOM DOOM—they gooi the rap-rave megamixes pumping like a nightclub. So my main inspiration is the taxis. The whole album is based on the sound it’s gonna make when it’s pumping through a taxi—It’s that high energy shit you can’t compare.”

[Watkin T. Jones (aka “Ninja”), lead vocalist of Die Antwoord, interview in Vice Magazine]

Ps. On Die Antwoord’s official website you can listen to their entire first album $O$. It’s definitely worth it, especially if you are not planning to take a Cape Town taxi anytime soon. They are presently touring Europe and the US, so another thing that you might want to do is go to one of their live shows. With a vuvuzela, to blow along with their despicable zef-gansta rhymes…

Hidden track #7 : CCCP – épatez vos amis avec du punk philo-soviétique

Les chanteurs siamois d’Amanda Palmer ? Le crust-ska des Leftöver Crack ? Die Antwoord et la nouvelle scène zef afrikaans ? Admettez-le : à un certain moment, cela devient difficile de trouver quelque chose de vraiment nouveau pour épater vos amis mordus de musique. D’autant plus que, si vous vous mettez à explorer des trucs nouveaux sur Spotify ou sur, vous risquez de bousiller vos stats… Mieux vaut s’orienter carrément vers des groupes défunts, genre des formations pratiquement méconnues à la populace, qui n’ont influencé pratiquement personne, et qui ne risquent pas de vous faire suggérer du Lady Gaga la prochaine fois que vous vous pointerez sur iTunes.

Nom : CCCP – Fedeli alla linea (“URSS – Fidèles à la ligne”). Année de création : 1981. Pays : Italie. Genre :  art-punk philo-soviétique avec influences folk, disco et world.

Un petit morceau représentatif de leur production la plus originale : Valium Tavor Serenase, vignette d’aliénation pharmaceutique, mélangeant rock dur et “liscio” (une espèce de valse du nord de l’Italie).


Alberto Camerini, prophète du spaghetti cyberpunk

1983. Le magazine Time attribue le prix “personnalité de l’année” à un ordinateur. William Gibson travaille encore le manuscrit de Neuromancien. Steve Jobs regarde dubitatif le prototype du premier Mac. Les hackers du Chaos Computer Club de Berlin préparent l’hold-up électronique de la Hamburger Sparkasse. Donna Haraway se demande qu’est-ce qu’un cyborg.

Le chanteur Italien Alberto Camerini, compose “Computer Capriccio”, chanson qui préfigure les communautés virtuelles, les MMORPG et les médias sociaux.

Voilà un extrait live (en playback, Eighties obligent)


Hidden track # 3: The World/Inferno Friendship Society linkfest

Take a broken-hearted Jersey-born Brooklynite, a bearded saxophonist, an accordionist, a rude chick playing bass guitar, The Dresden Dolls former drummer, a bunch of other wierdos and put them on stage. Bring in an audience of emo-prone kids dressed in their best clothes and ready to mosh and slam and sweat and swear. Make them play a mix of punk rock, Weimar cabaret, pop, kletzmer, and whatever else you can come up with. Shake energically. There you are: Ladies and Gentlemen, the WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY!!!


* The World / Inferno Friendship Society – Zen and the art of breaking everything
* The World / Inferno Friendship Society – Paul Robeson
* The World / Inferno Friendship Society – Fiend in Wien

* The World / Inferno Friendship Society – My ancestral Homeland, New Jersey
* The World / Inferno Friendship Society – Just the best party

Via Deezer.