Metanarratives and Storytelling in Contemporary Mainstream Popular Music: Romeo and Juliet in the Making of the Star Persona

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.13

Keywords:

transmedia storytelling, Romeo and Juliet, music

Abstract

This article analyzes how mainstream artists respond to the dynamics of online fan communities, developing complex metanarratives that interrelate their songs and music videos with their “personal” activity on social media. Audiences analyze in depth and discuss each release, contributing to its viralization on the internet. However, these strategies need strong narratives that allow convincing developments and transmedia storytelling, and this is where literature becomes a significant source of inspiration. I argue that the assumption (or subversion) of popular literary characters and narratives contributes to a positioning of artists in the music scene and facilitates their “reading” by the audience. To illustrate this process, I analyze the references to Romeo and Juliet by mainstream pop artists in the last decade, paying special attention to Troye Sivan’s debut album Blue Neighborhood (2015), considered a homosexual version of Shakespeare’s drama, and to Halsey’s concept album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017), understood as a queer version of the play. Both artists explained their personal reading of Shakespeare’s drama as a way of expressing their own feelings and experiences. These examples of metanarrative storytelling achieved their aim, and millions of fans engaged with both artists, discussing lyrics, photos and music videos related to Romeo and Juliet on social media.

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Author Biography

Eduardo Viñuela, University of Oviedo

Eduardo Viñuela is Associate Professor in the Department of Musicology at the University of Oviedo (Spain). He has published the book El videoclip en España (2009), and has edited several books on popular music and audiovisual media. Viñuela was Visiting Researcher at the universities of Liverpool (2007), Oxford (2014) and República de Uruguay (2015), and Fulbright visiting scholar at Stanford University (2019). He also was Teaching Assistant in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Alicante (2008–10). He has chaired the Spanish branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) from 2009 to 2014 and was Vice-President of SIBE, the Spanish Society of Ethnomusicology (2014–18).

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Published

2020-11-24

How to Cite

Viñuela, E. (2020). Metanarratives and Storytelling in Contemporary Mainstream Popular Music: Romeo and Juliet in the Making of the Star Persona. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (10), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.13