Practical Criticism No. 68 — Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter

Practical Criticism is back with its first episode of 2024—on Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter. In it, Rebecca Ariel Porte plays the opening track of the album, “American Requiem,” for Ajay Singh Chaudhary, who, as usual, doesn’t know what the object will be. Their conversation then commences with a question: Beyoncé is far from the first to undertake the ambitious task of deconstructing country music’s many musical debts—but does she actually succeed in doing so? Along the way, they discuss the history of Black country music (and listen to Linda Martell), the convergence of aesthetic and commodity forms (is the album so slick as to slide into parody?), conflictual aspirations to iconicity and iconoclasm, the courage of conviction it takes to betray an older version of one’s own aesthetic commitments, and more.

You can download the episode by right-clicking here and selecting “save as.” Or look us up on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Practical Criticism is an occasional series of the Podcast for Social Research, which is produced by Ryan Lentini. If you like what you’ve heard, consider subscribing to Brooklyn Institute’s Patreon page, where you can enjoy access to all past and future episodes of the podcast.

Practical Criticism No. 68—Cowboy Carter
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