Challenges to London-centric music criticism in the quality press 1981 to 1991

london underground

“Evidence drawn from a series of interviews which I conducted with prolific English broadsheet music critics back in 2006 suggests that during the period 1981 to 1991 an intricate melange of factors converged to dramatically alter longstanding preconceptions of London as the epicentre of quality live music performance in England.  Supported further by qualitative and quantitative analysis of a sample of English broadsheet newspaper articles, this paper investigates how the political climate of Thatcherism, the arrival of The Independent, the rise of broadsheet popular music coverage, the decline of the overnight concert review and the demise of Fleet Street transformed the way in which the English quality news press approached live music performances within the city of London.  Finally, the paper will consider the possible legacies inherited from this period, particularly in terms of London’s musical identity and status, as least as it is depicted within the English quality press.”

Abstract of the research paper which I presented at the 2012 annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (UK and Ireland); ‘Imagining Communities Musically: Putting Popular Music in its Place’.  University of Salford, Media City, September 5-7th 2012.


Published by Dr Jennifer Skellington

In 2010 I completed my PhD thesis entitled ‘Transforming Music Criticism? An examination of changes in music journalism in the English broadsheet press from 1981 to 1991’, at Oxford Brookes University. My research entailed face to face interviews with fourteen long-standing music journalists representing all music genres from the English quality press, the construction of a database cataloguing and analysing all music-related content from a sample of quality newspapers from the period 1981 to 1991 and the detailed discourse analysis of a sample of live music reviews. My key area of expertise is music criticism and music journalism, particularly relating to popular music (including rock, pop, jazz, world music), however my broader teaching and research specialisms cover a wide range of popular music related topics, particularly those associated with popular music and identity (race, gender, nationality, subcultures) and popular music and film. Since completing my PhD I have held associate lecturing posts at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford University, Solent University, Brunel University, the University of Bristol, Bucks New University, the University of Northampton and the University of Worcester.

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