Author Archives: Kait Williamson

Avicii ‘Woke Me Up’: Intertextuality of Electronic Dance Music

From the readings this past week, I had one type of process that kept coming to mind when dealing with the hybridity and intertextual forms of musical expression. If you’re a fan of music, particularly EDM or Electronic Dance Music, you might be familiar with the popular band Avicii. In the past, they have revolutionized the sound of electronic music in clubs, raves, parties, casinos, etc. Who knew that being so talented at making electronic beats would result in being capable of producing much more?

Avicii’s last album, “True,” came out in September of 2013. It features a total of twelve songs of completely different and mixed styles, feels, beats, and compilations of different artists, all produced by Avicii. When Avicii gave the world a preview of this album in March of 2013 at the Ultra Music Festival, it rendered negative results at first. People couldn’t grasp nor did they like the concept of a band incorporating bluegrass, country, jazz, rock, electric, soul, etc. However, with the negative publicity came positive feedback as well. Many artists supported Avicii’s endeavor to revolutionize EDM around the world, using different sounds and styles one might hear in different genres as well as different time periods.

Millions of reviews, comments, opinions, and articles were written about Avicii’s choice to mix genres and time periods. It’s specifically eye-opening because there are a small handful of EDM artists who could successfully make an album that would sell such a wide variety of sounds on one album, appealing to a large number of consumers (whether they are fans of EDM or not). Furthermore, historically, Avicii is known around the world for strictly being electronic and dance music (Such as “Levels”), and was highly rated around the world. But the mastermind behind Avicii’s name, Tim Bergling, seems to think that house music is now becoming relatively the same. A specific sound is being repeated over and over and he wanted to change things up in order to create something controversial and new. “This quest to provoke has led Bergling to work with artists including Nile Rodgers, Adam Lambert and Mike Einziger, guitarist from forgotten surf-metallers Incubus. It’s a motley crew but one that Bergling is proud to be a part of” (Renshaw).

Avicii’s new album clearly interconnects with other works. One could argue that Daft Punk, David Guetta, and other like artists have pop-ish and rock-ish attributes to some of their songs. Avicii takes it to a whole new level using country, bluegrass, and other genres that are stereotypically seen as the complete opposite of each other. Avicii is specific with each song. Some resemble the normal EDM style, others incorporate jazz, soul, bluegrass, etc. “’People’s expectations were just lowered so much. Country and house? This has got to be a joke,’ the DJ-producer said in a recent interview. ‘Once you get over the fact that it’s country and house, just listen to it as music, a lot of people realized it’s pretty good’…’Wake Me Up’ is Avicii’s proof. The upbeat folk tune has topped the charts around the world. It has peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, where the song is platinum” (Makarechi).

(View ‘Wake Me Up’ Here) ‘Wake Me Up’ Official Video

Avicii also took a big risk in the track, ‘Hey Brother,’ “…Which features the keening vocals of Mr. Tyminski. (How much of a risk is it to use the main voice from an album, the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, that has sold over seven million copies in the United States?)” (Caramanica). ‘Heart Upon My Sleeve’ features a vocal performance from Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons (which is alternative rock), while ‘Shame on Me’ incorporates a solid amount of swing music and that of the jazz genre. ‘Long Road to Hell’ is also a spirited combination of soul, classical, jazz, a little R&B, and EDM.

(View ‘Hey Brother’ Here) ‘Hey Brother’ Official Video

(View ‘Heart Upon My Sleeve’ Here)‘Heart Upon My Sleeve’ Video

(View ‘Shame On Me’ Here) ‘Shame On Me’ Video

(View ‘Long Road to Hell’ Here) ‘Long Road to Hell’ Video Exclusive Mix

Furthermore, because we are so interconnected (thanks to television and the internet) Avicii is able to insert their experiments and music within a wide variety of cultures and countries. The album went gold or platinum in seven countries around the world. Avicii’s work is so monumental because of it’s direction of music. It was rejected at first. But the way this music is ‘new,’ that is, because it incorporates so many genres of opposite taste (especially pertaining to EDM), is why it has reaped success.

In relation to the readings, this new music is a living culture within itself that is growing its roots in the hearts of millions. I think the value of this music is the fact that it’s so hybrid yet a genius combination of compositions that it has intrigued countries and people around the world. It’s a “collage” of music, just as described in Greenberg’s piece on art. A mix of dimensions and new textures that are so opposite that it becomes an oxymoron of appealing art. “By its greater corporeal presence and its greater extraneousness, the affixed paper or cloth serves for a seeming moment to push everything else into a more vivid idea of depth than the simulated printing or simulated textures had ever done” (Clement Greenberg). I feel as though Avicii has done just this, except within the realm of musical phenomena, as well as a mix of time periods and intermingling a nostalgic want for past sounds.

Gunhild’s readings inspired me to focus on the subject that the work is open, quite like the mind, in that individuals like many different sounds even from the past or present. What he calls, “negotiation” is going on all the time in all types of media, including music. The intertextuality is expandable, and for Avicii, this works out perfectly in terms of marketing and sales. Bergling has shaped this text of his album, “True,” with many other texts. Music from music. Singers who are inspired from other singers – in essence, he has created his genre from other genres, an idea that Gunhild recognizes through Bakhtinian concepts. Avicii’s music is also intermedial because of it’s in-between-ness. A hybrid breed.

Genres represent the intertextuality in music frequently. Gunhild states, “Genres perform the function of organizing this heteroglossia and connecting distinctive traits in distinctive genres. The genres tend to assume certain points of view, ways of thinking, and social accents.” So not only do genres represent music but they represent literature, art, time periods, social movements and social views present at a given time in history. Furthermore, the idea of heteroglossia, describes the idea of coexistence of distinct varieties within a single “language” – in this case, the language of music.

Works Cited

Caramanica, Jon. “Global Pop, Now Infused With Country The Swedish D.J. Avicii Releases ‘True’.” The New York Times., 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 3 Feb. 2014. <>.

Clement Greenberg, “Collage” (1959). A classic article on 20th century “collage culture” or the “collage aesthetic,” which carries over into music (jazz and rock) and awareness of popular culture post-1960.

Gunhild Agger, “Intertextuality Revisited: Dialogues and Negotiations in Media Studies.” Canadian Journal of Aesthetics, 4, 1999. [Good overview of theories as they apply to media studies.]

Makarechi, Kia. “‘True’ Review: Avicii Pulls Off An Unlikely Hybrid.” The Huffington Post., 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Feb. 2014. <>.

Renshaw, David. “Avicii’s Mix of EDM and Country Has given Ravers a Wake-up Call.” Guardian News and Media, 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 03 Feb. 2014. <>.

“True (Avicii Album).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Mar. 2014. Web. 03 Feb. 2014. <>.

Fairy Tale Films: Post-Modern Perspectives

There were many examples that came to mind when thinking about post-modernism that we might be in now and how relationships between then and now shape the characteristics of that particular work. The main thing I kept thinking about were Fairy Tales on Film. We have probably seen numerous spin-offs of the various Disney princesses, from Cinderella, to Snow White, to Beauty and the Beast, etc.

First, let me justify why these films (both then and now) are imperative for study. As a young girl growing up, and I’m sure most people would agree, these princesses set the stage for the fairy tale stories that filled our heads, both in books and on tape. Disney was the monopolizing company in what was put into the mind of young girls as far as film is concerned. The messages behind the films especially are what we recognized as the mainstream movie media. As for the boys, I’m sure you all know the stories and watched some of the movies, but maybe you didn’t (or maybe you did) take the stories to heart. It’s the impressionism that took upon young kids when watching these movies that’s important. What messages were represented, and how? How are the messages compared to post-modern films that relay a similar storyline?

Hassan states, “I believe it is a revenant, the return of the irrepressible; every time we are rid of it, its ghost rises back. And like a ghost, it eludes definition…I mean postmodernism to refer to the cultural sphere, especially literature, philosophy, and the various arts, including architecture…” I feel as though these films based upon fairy tales can’t be squashed. It’s something that keeps coming back every few years. Whether it’s with one of the Disney Princesses, a film more focused on an evil character in one of these tales, or developing a plot twist, it all relates back to the original storyline, gaining much of it’s plot from original sources many years ago. Two examples in which I feel embody post-modern attitude is the film, “Mirror Mirror,” a spin off of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and “A Cinderella Story,” a spin off of Cinderella. In essence they are a similar performances of the originals, but with modern touches.

Along with Hassan’s theory that post-modernism is a return of the irrepressible, Jameson mentions a specific idea in his theories called Pastiche. He believes post-modernism is a new type of social life and economic order, and pastiche is the theory that all there’s left to imitate are dead styles in the imaginary museum. What I interpret this as, relates to Hassan’s idea that the ghost rises back – just like the plots of these films. He also mentions nostalgia film, which also ties into the fact that many post-modernist film-works are built upon nostalgia, which applies in this case.

Mirror Mirror takes upon new ideas within the film but sticks to the basic story line (after the death of Snow White’s father, she is forced to live with her evil step mother, who tells her to run for her life through the woods in order to escape death because Snow White was becoming too pretty – magic mirror and huntsman included). Mirror Mirror embodies more of a modern approach with it’s humor and woman empowerment. Snow White is more of her own hero, and even saves the prince from being under a spell, not vice versa like in the original film. Furthermore, animation, costume design, real people, and underlying messages are all different (and quite new) compared to the 1937 film. It’s a hybridized and mixed attempt at a new film accentuating different messages and using modern technology while keeping the plot and design in tact. Furthermore, the music is modern but captures a sound of long ago, almost medieval.

A Cinderella Story is also a film that represents the general plot of Cinderella, but incorporates hybrid and more modern techniques(i.e. the setting is a high school instead of just a home, and the “ball” is homecoming, etc.). It is put in a more modern light in order for young girls to understand the story in a way that could be represented in the present time. Similar to Mirror Mirror, the plot is derived from the past, yet the ideas within the film and the “art” used (music, setting, time, costumes, humor) are all post-modern. Furthermore, just like Mirror Mirror, there are messages within the film that represent more technological realizations as well as the promotion of feminism. Just like the times, the bold messages are changing. Socio-economic and historical representations of gender, class, and race are all in a post-modern shift.

Bourriaud’s work mentions that, “By refilming a movie shot by shot, we represent something other than what was dealt with in the original work. We show the time that has passed, but above all we manifest a capacity to evolve among signs to inhabit them.” This is the perfect depiction of what has happened among fairy tale stories today in the post-modernist era. Prior and contemporary relationships are hybridized and mixed in order to get an outcome that will appeal to audiences today, especially in film. It’s all about the entertainment, yet the ideas are solidly rooted in the eras previous to it.

In essence, between Hassan, Jameson, and Bourriad, I have interpreted that art and film of fairy tales is something nostalgic from the past that we choose to represent in a different light to appeal to modern audiences. Today and in the future, this will include technological advancements within the making of the film, as well as representations within it (i.e. social media in “A Cinderella Story”), as well as post-modernist views of society (race, gender, class, etc.). This hybridization of messages and work full-heartedly represents post-modernism.

“Since the early nineties, an ever increasing number of artworks have been created on the basis of preexisting works; more and more artists interpret, reproduce, re-exhibit, or use works made by others or available cultural products. This art of postproduction seems to respond to the proliferating chaos of global culture in the information age, which is characterized by an increase in the supply of works and the art world’s annexation of forms ignored or disdained until now. what is clear is that today certain elements and principles are reemerging as themes and are suddenly at the forefront, to the point of constituting the “engine” of new artistic practices” (Bourriaud).


Works Cited

Bacchilega, Christina. “Postmodern Fairy Tales: Gender and Narrative Strategies.”Google Books. N.p., 1997. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

“Hayley’s Horror Reviews.” Hayleys Horror Reviews. N.p., 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

Ihab Hassan, “Postmodernism to Postmodernity?” and “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism” (excerpt from his book, The Postmodern Turn [1987])

Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” From E. Ann Kaplan, ed. Postmodernism and its Discontents (London and New York: Verso, 1988): 13-29. His first statement of the argument that appears in his Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

Nicholas Bourriaud: An art historian and museum curator’s interpretation of “post-postmodern” art. Remix Culture as Altermodern (his exhibition at the Tate Britain, London): Bourriaud, “Altermodern Explained: A Manifesto” and Video Interview.

Nicholas Bourriaud, Postproduction (2002). (excerpts, read Introduction and last chapter, “Use of the World.”).

Avatar: A Whole New World?

Among the infinite number of meanings, observations, theories, and conclusions that can be drawn from the world around us there is a constant age of convergence and effort to make further advancements in technology and understanding of cultures. This technology and observation allows us to learn more, putting pieces of different puzzles together around the world. International communications is more important than ever – it brings a different point of view from individuals all around the world. Furthermore this communication and hybridity between countries is only beneficial when one country knows what it needs from the integration of culture with another. It’s almost like the movie Avatar, which, if you haven’t seen it, includes members of Earth attempting to use another world for its resources when it is wholesomely unaware of most of it’s inhabitants.

Until we explore these new “worlds” present in our own planet, they will remain foreign; not in a physical sense, but in a cultural sense. (Trailer to Avatar:

From the readings I have gathered three things I think are important to recognize: Infinite information, understanding of cultural identity, and the power of our own fame are three factors I believe to be the most imperative when it comes to interconnectedness of the world and causes of societal tension.

Privileged countries are used to having an infinite amount of information because of the media and internet. Internet has changed the way the world works. Most things can be tracked, sent, received, looked up, and scene through the invention of the Internet. It’s like the human brain. There’s millions, billions, trillions of connections internationally to technology and foreign places around the world. We should keep in mind that most of Earth’s population isn’t even privy to basic phones or telecommunications services. It’s a privilege to be so globally connected and in tune with any “thing” or current event. Similarly in Avatar their world was one big ball of interconnected messages:

(From Avatar)

Dr. Grace Augustine: What we think we know – is that there’s some kind of electrochemical communication between the roots of the trees. Like the synapses between neurons. Each tree has ten to the fourth connections to the trees around it, and there are ten to the twelfth trees on Pandora…

Selfridge: That’s a lot, I’m guessing.

Dr. Grace Augustine: That’s more connections than the human brain. You get it? It’s a network – a global network. And the Na’vi can access it – they can upload and download data – memories – at sites like the one you just destroyed.”

Next, understanding (or lack thereof) of a country’s cultural identity can be quite detrimental. Without fully understanding the concepts of another country’s culture leaves a weakness and possible liability for political and cultural domination. In today’s world, in order to excel, one government must make somewhat of an effort to understand the other, and know what type of influence they hold. For example, in the readings, polyglot tv and media was mentioned. Within media we integrate different languages and cultures, but in a way, it can be filtered to a certain way to view another country or society. “The fact that we proiect ‘ourselves’ into these cultural identities, at the same time internalizing their meanings and values, making them ‘part of us,’ helps to align our subjective feelings with the objective places we occupy in the social and cultural world” (Hall).

Furthermore, “In the modern world, the national cultures into which we are born are one of the principal sources of cultural identity. In defining ourselves we sometimes say we are English or welsh or Indian or Jamaican. of course, this is to speak metaphorically. These identities are not literally imprinted in our genes. However, we do think of them as if they are part of our essential natures… We only know what it is to be, “English” because of the way “Englishness” has come ‘to be represented, as a set of meanings, by English national culture’ It follows that a nation is not only a political entity but something which: produces meanings – a system of cultural representation” (Hall). In essence, we label ourselves and separate ourselves because of traditions and norms within our allocated habitats around the world. If you understand others’ traditions and habitats, you will have a better chance at communicating with them and lessening any current/possible tension. This example links to the movie Avatar, because Earthlings made little attempt to find the meanings and traditions of the natives of Pandora. The people of Pandora did not have much opportunity to know much more than what we made ourselves look like – barbarians with big machines in the movie. It took an Earthling (Jake Sully) in order to communicate between the two since he integrated himself into the Avatar’s world. He was then able to communicate, looking past stereotypes and other cultural barriers, taking tension away from the relationship between the two groups for a while.

Lastly, power of our own fame is something I thought of when reading Fagerjord, when he talks about, “Remix of Power: Who gets the Podium?” With infinite information and understanding culture, many individuals figure out what people want and how to manipulate that want with what is posted on the Internet. Many medias have converged into one, so that anyone around the world can watch the phenomenon of Youtube, or posts on Facebook. Fagerjord says, “Convergence as a development must logically end at some point either because media cease to converge, or because all media have converged into one, or have reached a limit where further convergence is impossible.” I do not think that this limit has been reached, but I do think that it has been so combined that we can pretty much create most things we desire online. Which leads to our own fame. Everyone is somebody. It’s a matter of attention. Anyone can create a “movie,” do the cover of a song, be Tumblr famous, or the next worldly renowned photographer or model. So, basically, has it has taught us that attention is power? If we are only famous by the attention we receive online from the content we know to post (because we have infinite possibilities and understand the culture of our audiences) then doesn’t the power of our own fame interconnect us? In the movie Avatar, the Earthlings had all the means to understand the people of Pandora, but failed to do so. With utilizing infinite information, understanding cultural identity, and then using the power of their own fame to appeal to what the people of Pandora wanted, could they have manipulated their audience completely?

With these three factors discovered from the readings, globalization, interconnectedness, and relief of societal tension between parties may/may not be achieved in a positive way. But, with the right motives, globalization can be looked upon as a way of learning, and a way of broadening the world’s knowledge, possibly taking us to a higher understanding that we are unable to comprehend in today’s society.