The Chanson as a Site of Globalization
This chapter investigates the paradoxical process of music critics’ and artists’ sanctioning of the chanson as a distinctly French musical phenomenon just as its aesthetics were changing due to the influx of new foreign influences. The establishment of a canon of chansonniers, built upon the work of Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, and Leo Ferré, occurred just as French rock and roll became a noisy cultural force in France. The meaning of the chanson was rearticulated in contrast to rock and roll, with critics focusing on its lyrical content and its supposedly unchanging traditional nature. But the musical content of chanson was changing, most strongly evident in the work of Serge Gainsbourg, whose omnivorous cultural tastes brought rock and roll, exotica, and art rock into chanson. This chapter surveys the changing definitions of chanson within musical criticism during the 1950s and 1960s.
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