Identity Transfers Between Artists Figures and Music Signifiers. A Socio-musical Study of the Creation of Stars in Popular Music

    • IMG_6683
    • Presentation speakers
      • Christophe Magis, Université Paris VIII, France


    Most researchers working on the cultural industries have stated that the field is characterized by a tight control of the marketing and distribution phases of production and a loose control of the creation phases, concluding in low (if any) phenomenon of creation’s determination by marketing (Hesmondhalgh, 2007). This communication aims to question this statement focusing on the identity relations between the figure of stars and their music in the popular music sphere. In popular music, the singer is himself an important part of the song he sings, alongside lyrics and music: he intervenes at the level of the song’s «character» (Hennion, 1982). Of course, the different levels of lyrics, music and character are in constant relations inside each different song and tend to give coherence to a singer’s work (Lahusen, 1996). The construction of Stars – which has a preeminent role in the music business (Curien & Moreau, 2006), as in the rest of the cultural industries (Ryan, 1992) – is based on this «character» level of songs, in relation to lyrics and music. Thus, concentrating on the album «Le Coeur d’un Homme» released in 2007 by the French popular singer Johnny Hallyday we would like to show how the figure of the Star is developed in the music business as cristallysing specific values, most of which are related to identity. These values are claimed in the discourses created for the promotion of the album (websites, TV-show, promotional material) in connection with identitarian signifiers to be found within lyrics and within music, especially in the work of arrangement (as a musicological analysis will show). This presentation will then analyze these complex movements between the public identity of the artist as a Star used to sell records, and the music to be heard in the offered album to see how, finally, the rest of the textual levels of songs (lyrics and music) serve this publicity operating as a reservoir of identity signifiers.