“Conspicuous Listening” at SEM

I heard some amazing papers and had some great conversations at the Society for Ethnomusicology in Denver. The “Decolonizing Disability” panel brought forth some particularly great discussions. I enjoyed being part of the Sound Studies and Disability Special Interest Groups and the Popular Music Section, where I was delighted to accept honorable mention for the Lise Waxer Student Paper Prize for a paper on karaoke I presented last year.

This year I presented a paper titled: “Conspicuous Listening: Lip Syncing and the Performance of Popular Music Consumption.” The paper analyzed new kinds of popular music consumption enabled by Web 2.0 video platforms and apps (from YouTube to musical.ly). I focussed on the ways that they allow people to perform the act of consuming popular music. In watching lip sync videos, we are essentially watching people stage themselves as skilled and virtuosic listeners.