Urban Imaginaries in Pop Music: New York's Velvet Underground and Strokes

  • Débora Gomes dos Santos DINÂMIA'CET-IUL


This article starts with the concept of urban as a product and producer of social interactions and practices within everyday life, whose readings and appropriations qualify and mean their environment beyond the predictions of technical activities. In order to do so, we explore the ways in which daily perceptions of space and the links to specific localities are expressed by music, through the analysis of the production of two bands: Velvet Underground and The Strokes. Both groups have their identities tied to the urban space of New York City, but whose historical conjunctures say a lot about the content of their productions: Velvet Underground in the mid-1960s, whose horizon is that of the degraded city, bankrupt and violent; Strokes in the early 2000s, after the full consolidation of the revitalization programs of the city. In this course the themes addressed by the groups are transformed and different stylistic features are emphasized. Velvet Underground lyrics mention the alternative universe as a movement, in passages punctuated by specific and real localities. Strokes' lyrics favour the approach of individual themes, inner feelings and personal passages through incognito sites. The proposal is then to juxtapose such productions with the urban context that encloses them, in order to highlight the extent of the daily relationship-identity-urban space and how it can help connect the practice of urbanism with the experience of urban space.

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