Rock Music Research Papers

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SEX SELLS

Stephanie Stergis
MUS-210-220N: History of Rock Music
Spring 2015

Stephanie Stergis
Professor Todd Campbell
MUS-210-220N
9 May 2015
Sex Sells The history of rock music is filled with sex. From the Psychedelic era in the 1960s, mainstream rock and the rise of punk in the 70s, hair bands in the 80s, to a slew of boy bands and pop princesses in the 90s and 2000s, sex appeal has always been the key to success. Sex sells and the musicians who have taken advantage of their sexuality and chosen to portray themselves in an unconventional manner are the ones who have really stood out over the years, including Elvis, Madonna, and even Miley Cyrus. The 1950s introduced America to a new style of music called hokum blues that featured black artists who used double entendres in their lyrics (Covach, Flory 70). Examples include Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” and Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”. Filled with innuendos and metaphors, hokum blues introduced sexuality into popular music in the black community. The more mainstream, white version of this sexual image in the 50s was, of course, Elvis Presley. After his appearance on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town in 1956, he earned the nickname “Elvis the Pelvis”, due to his suggestive (“inappropriate”) dance moves (Covach, Flory 39).
Elvis had a style
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Fishwick explains, “Madonna helped to invent liberated social values and body-centered living, which captivated America… She has always been a work-in-progress, right up to today, a kaleidoscopic commodity, disrupting and reinvigorating familiar codes.” Other artists during the 1980s that were openly sexual and extremely successful were Michael Jackson, his sister Janet, Prince, and hair bands like Bon Jovi and Poison. Not surprisingly, the Rolling Stones were still keeping pace with these other big names, making them one of the longest lasting and highest grossing sex icons of all

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