Giving pop the chop


Would anyone choose to slice their vegetables and prepare their meals on a vinyl record? The designers at Joseph seem pretty convinced that many of us would. I received one of these glossy, black (plastic) vinyl-record style cutting boards as a gift recently and am still struggling to accept the item both as a physical artefact and concept. Anyone old enough to remember buying vinyl records might, like me, feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of brandishing a knife near such a thing. Sure, I know it’s not a real record, and I know it’s designed as a work surface saver and so theoretically is built to withstand the scratches and scrapes inevitable in the lifecycle of a chopping board. So should I display it and not use it then? Certainly, as some of its owners on Amazon proclaim, it’s best kept as a decorative item, hopefully bestowing a moderate measure of cultural capital upon its owner and perhaps even adding a little je ne sais quoi to their culinary creations. For me though it’s just another example of what Simon Reynolds has labelled ‘retromania’, a response to the trend which sees us longing for the past, in an age of hipsters, vintage chic and retro fashion. But that’s exactly the problem for me, it’s NOT a record, and it’s definitely not vintage, so how can it bestow value, even as a symbolic item? The semiotics of popular music, along with its many genres and subgenres are complex and ever-changing, but it’s clear that this item is meant to act as an eye-arresting, although hopelessly silent and static, nod to the hip associations of popular music. For me, a vinyl record is one thing and a cutting board is another; I’m afraid to say I’ll be giving this one the chop.


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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