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Defining the Discographic SelfDesert Island Discs in Context$
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Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, and Stephen Cottrell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266175

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.001.0001

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Playlists and prizes: Cultural authority, personal taste, and musical value since the 1940s

Playlists and prizes: Cultural authority, personal taste, and musical value since the 1940s

Chapter:
(p.107) 6 Playlists and prizes: Cultural authority, personal taste, and musical value since the 1940s
Source:
Defining the Discographic Self
Author(s):

Andrew Blake

, Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, Stephen Cottrell
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.003.0009

This chapter offers an overview of changing modes of valuation of music, c. 1945–2015. A sequence of partially overlapping histories charts the rise and decline of critic-led cultural authority in relation to classical and rock musics, and their partial replacement by the personal valorisation of the playlist. The list-based autobiographical musicality of Desert Island Discs can be seen as prefiguring contemporary culture’s personalised, non-hierarchical, non-judgemental tastes, and their display in playlists puts each of us on the desert island. The chapter also explores the residual cultural authority embodied in the cultural prize shortlist, and offers a brief study of the Mercury Music Prize, which celebrated its 20th birthday in 2012, as Desert Island Discs was celebrating its 70th. The conclusion explores the ‘post-playlist’ world of streaming technologies which, starting from the user’s own preferences, move us away from history and memory embodied in both the Desert Island Discs list and the playlist.

Keywords:   music, lists, playlists, shortlists, cultural value, iPod, prize, cultural economy

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