Good Booty by Ann Powers
Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music

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At times, Good Booty's scope is overwhelming. Everything from feminism to technology to David Bowie to AIDS appears in the book...though, Powers superbly balances smart criticism and theory with the primal humanity behind the thump and grind of America's homemade soundtrack.
-NPR

Synopsis

In this sweeping history of popular music in the United States, NPR’s acclaimed music critic examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America’s primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from nineteenth-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-twentieth century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today’s web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans, and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism—not merely sex, but love, bodily freedom, and liberating joy—became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America's anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth, and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect—a magnum opus over two decades in the making—Powers offers new insights into our nation psyche and our soul.

 

About Ann Powers

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Ann Powers is NPR Music’s critic and correspondent and one of the nation’s leading music writers. She began her career at San Francisco Weekly, and has held positions at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Blender, and the Experience Music Project. Her previous books include Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America and Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, which she co-wrote with Amos; and Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop which she co-edited with Evelyn McDonnell. She was also the editor of Best Music Writing 2010. She lives in Nashville. Author Image 1
 
Published August 15, 2017 by Dey Street Books. 453 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Good Booty
All: 3 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
on May 16 2017

A mixed bag, sometimes entertaining, sometimes arid, but full of useful insights; readers won’t look at Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj the same way...

Read Full Review of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Bla... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Jason Heller on Aug 17 2017

At times, Good Booty's scope is overwhelming. Everything from feminism to technology to David Bowie to AIDS appears in the book...though, Powers superbly balances smart criticism and theory with the primal humanity behind the thump and grind of America's homemade soundtrack.

Read Full Review of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Bla... | See more reviews from NPR

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Franz Nicolay on Aug 29 2017

Powers allows herself the veteran rock critic’s slangy informality...which can create a tonal instability when set against historical filler (“By 2000 … people spent more and more time within the virtual realm made possible by a new phenomenon called the World Wide Web”) and quotations from academic sources.

Read Full Review of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Bla... | See more reviews from NY Times

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