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Categorizing SoundGenre and Twentieth-Century Popular Music$
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David Brackett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248717

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248717.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Crossover Dreams

Crossover Dreams

From Urban Cowboy to the King of Pop

(p.280) 8 Crossover Dreams
Categorizing Sound

David Brackett

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the rise of the concept of “crossover” in response to the transformation of radio formats and music industry categories during the 1970s and early 1980s. Country music is examined for its close proximity to the “Adult Contemporary” radio format, and the music for the film Urban Cowboy is analyzed for how it uses a variety of country music sub-genres. The transformation of Billboard’s popularity chart from “Soul” to “Black,” and of the radio format for black popular music from “Soul” to “Urban Contemporary” is examined in relation to the almost all-white format of “Album-Oriented Rock” (“AOR”). Michael Jackson’s breakthrough album Thriller is discussed for its ability to transcend what were widely viewed as impermeable boundaries. In spite of Thriller, however, a recording such as George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” reveals how mainstream popular music remained largely segregated at the beginning of the 1980s.

Keywords:   crossover, radio formats, popularity charts, country music, adult contemporary, Urban Cowboy, urban contemporary, album-oriented rock, Michael Jackson, George Clinton

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