The popularity of jazz–an unpopular problem: the significance of 'Swing when you're winning'

Parsonage, Catherine (2004). The popularity of jazz–an unpopular problem: the significance of 'Swing when you're winning'. The Source: Challenging Jazz Criticism, 1 pp. 60–80.



Robbie Williams' album Swing when you–re winning, released in November 2001, is primarily significant as a fascinating artefact of popular music in the early twenty-first century. The album contains fourteen 'covers' of songs made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr. and Dean Martin and one original song written by Williams with his long-term collaborator Guy Chambers. The 2001 Christmas number one, Somethin' Stupid, on which Williams' duetted with Nicole Kidman, was drawn from Swing when you–re winning, which was also number one in the album chart for several weeks over the Christmas period.

This paper responds to the challenge of writers such as Robert Walser and Derek Scott, who have respectively called for serious evaluation of the popular mainstream and the consideration of mass consumerism as a creative act. This paper develops a methodology for critical analysis of popular music by breaking down the concept of 'significance' into importance (to whom and why), meaning (socially located and constructed) which mediates in the final aspect of meaningfulness (communication and reception). In addition, this paper will engage with the theoretical writings of Allan Moore, Theodor Adorno, Lucy Green, Albin Zak III and Krin Gabbard.

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