Original Ideas explores Liverpool’s musical magnetism – from The Beatles to Taylor Swift

From the Fab Four to Taylor Swift, this episode takes a look at the research activities within the University’s Department of Music and Institute of Popular Music as Taylor TownTay Day and the Eras Tour arrive in Liverpool.   

Dr Holly Tessler and Dr Mike Jones, along with Dr Amy Skjerseth and Dr Samuel Murray, join Gavin Freeborn to discuss Liverpool’s rich musical heritage and what we can learn from the many different perspectives of popular music. How has it changed society in the past, and how will the music industry evolve in the future? How do we explain the cultural phenomena of ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Swifties’? 

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Dr Amy Skjerseth, Lecturer in Audiovisual Media, Department of Music said: 

“It’s not just music, it’s not just sound that we listen to. It’s also the whole personas behind the celebrity. It’s how they reproduce themselves in media.” 

Dr Holly Tessler, Senior Lecturer in Liverpool’s Department of Music commented:  

“Without the Beatles there would be no Taylor Swift, with all of the bands in between, the Bay City Rollers and New Kids on the Block and all the 90s boy bands, and McFly, Busted and all of them.  

It’s all in a spectrum, Taylor Swift in particular is known for reaching out to her fans directly and interacting with their lives and I think that’s what the difference is. In the 60s and you know all the way up through to when we had social media, there was always that barrier, those gatekeepers, you would have to read about them in a magazine or a fan newsletter or listen to them on the radio.  

You couldn’t just put a tweet out and say, “Hey Taylor, can you come to the prom with me”, as fans do now. So, there’s that direct opportunity for connection, which I think drives fandom in a very new direction now.” 

Dr Mike Jones and Dr Sam Murray talk about the huge importance that place and culture play when it comes to music and live events. They explain how immigration, technology and socio-economic factors shape music, and how musicians interact with their audience.  

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