From the age of song sheets in the late nineteenth-century to the contemporary era of digital streaming, pop music has been our most influential laboratory for social and aesthetic experimentation, changing the world three minutes at a time.
In Love for Sale, David Hajdu—one of the most respected critics and music historians of our time—draws on a lifetime of listening, playing, and writing about music to show how pop has done much more than peddle fantasies of love and sex to teenagers. From vaudeville singer Eva Tanguay, the “I Don’t Care Girl” who upended Victorian conceptions of feminine propriety to become one of the biggest stars of her day to the scandal of Blondie playing disco at CBGB, Hajdu presents an incisive and idiosyncratic history of a form that has repeatedly upset social and cultural expectations.
Exhaustively researched and rich with fresh insights, Love for Sale is unbound by the usual tropes of pop music history. Hajdu, for instance, gives a star turn to Bessie Smith and the “blues queens” of the 1920s, who brought wildly transgressive sexuality to American audience decades before rock and roll. And there is Jimmie Rodgers, a former blackface minstrel performer, who created country music from the songs of rural white and blacks . . . entwined with the sound of the Swiss yodel. And then there are today’s practitioners of Electronic Dance Music, who Hajdu celebrates for carrying the pop revolution to heretofore unimaginable frontiers. At every turn, Hajdu surprises and challenges readers to think about our most familiar art in unexpected ways.
Masterly and impassioned, authoritative and at times deeply personal, Love for Sale is a book of critical history informed by its writer's own unique history as a besotted fan and lifelong student of pop.
Adinolfi interviewed a number of exotica greats, and Mondo Exotica incorporates material from his interviews with Martin Denny, Esquivel, the Italian film composers Piero Piccioni and Piero Umiliani, and others. It begins with an extended look at the postwar popularity of exotica in the United States. Adinolfi describes how American bachelors and suburbanites embraced the Polynesian god Tiki as a symbol of escape and sexual liberation; how Les Baxter’s album Ritual of the Savage (1951) ushered in the exotica music craze; and how Martin Denny’s Exotica built on that craze, hitting number one in 1957. Adinolfi chronicles the popularity of performers from Yma Sumac, “the Peruvian Nightingale,” to Esquivel, who was described by Variety as “the Mexican Duke Ellington,” to the chanteuses Eartha Kitt, Julie London, and Ann-Margret. He explores exotica’s many sub-genres, including mood music, crime jazz, and spy music. Turning to Italy, he reconstructs the postwar years of la dolce vita, explaining how budget spy films, spaghetti westerns, soft-core porn movies, and other genres demonstrated an attraction to the foreign. Mondo Exotica includes a discography of albums, compilations, and remixes.