MUSIC - Those horrible pop songs that Theodor Adorno hated

Nothing but propaganda according to the Marxist critic, and so damned popular!

During his American exile in the Forties, philosopher Theodor Adorno enjoyed repeating that the radio played “some good bad music, and some bad good music.” Pop songs tinker with childhood memories, with feelings and with the subconscious. That’s why they’re a godsend for advertisers and propagandists of all kinds.

ESPECIALLY FOR YOU — Bonnie Baker (with Orrin Tucker and his orchestra).

“The sheer idiocy of a mass product created especially for you assumes the character of a ghastly necessity. Individual needs have been so ruthlessly eliminated from the product that they have to be invoked like magic formulae (…).” Called by his American colleague Paul Lazarsfeld to take part in research into the effects radio had on its audiences during the Thirties, philosopher Theodor Adorno, a musicologist and Marxist, got his own back. He explained that pop songs are all standardised, childish forms of propaganda. One product among the many advertised on radio.

We are not aware of any reaction from Bonnie Baker, the charming twenty-yearold singer who performed the incriminated verses: “Especially for you that’s all I live for, especially for you that’s all I’m here for, especially for you the birds are singing, especially for you the bells are ringing,” accompanied by a slow swing blues by Orrin Tucker’s orchestra.

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