Cover for ZUBERI: Sounds English: Transnational Popular Music. Click for larger image

Sounds English

Transnational Popular Music

Against the background of his own upbringing as a Pakistani Brit, Zuberi explores English popular music of the 1980s and 1990s as a function of the politics of cultural identity in Britain.

Popular music culture serves as an arena for debates on English and British national identity in this lively discussion of English popular music of the 1980s and 1990s. Against the background of his own upbringing as a Pakistani Brit, Nabeel Zuberi deftly combines a detailed account of the development of this music with a sophisticated assessment of its relation to the politics of cultural identity in Britain.

Zuberi looks at how the sounds, images, and lyrics of English popular music generate and critique ideas of national belonging, recasting the social and even the physical landscapes of cities like Manchester and London. The Smiths and Morrissey play on romanticized notions of the (white) English working class, while the Pet Shop Boys map a "queer urban Britain" in the AIDS era. The techno-culture of raves and dance clubs incorporates both an anti-institutional do-it-yourself politics and emergent leisure practices, while the potent mix of technology and creativity in British black music includes local conditions as well as a sense of global diaspora. British Asian musicians, drawing on Afrodiasporic and South Asian traditions, seek a sense of place in Britain as commercial interests try to pin down an image of them to market.

Sounds English shows how popular music complicates cherished notions of Englishness as it activates cultural outsiders and taps into a sense of not belonging. Alert and readable, Zuberi's wide-ranging discussion includes the performers Oasis, Blur, Tricky, Massive Attack, Goldie, A Guy Called Gerald, Roni Size, Bally Sagoo, Funˆdaˆmental, Echobelly, Cornershop, Talvin Singh, and others.

"The twenty-first century in Britain has begun with an endlessly debated "crisis" of national identity. Nabeel Zuberi's Sounds English shows lucidly and with passion that popular music is now the most important site on which the meaning of Englishness in all its liberating and oppressive confusion is being worked out." -- Simon Frith

"A richly multi-layered perspective entirely lacking from most other treatments of the subject." -- Tony Mitchell, European Journal of Communication

"...a superior music journalist's view, with pointed and vivid observations.... translates into a richly multilayered perspective." -- Perfect Beat

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