Artur Blaim: “Nowhere Plans for Nobody”: Constructing Utopia in Popular Music
“Nowhere plans for nobody”: Constructing Utopia in Popular Music
I am not so stupid as to have preferred to use those barbarous and meaningless names, Utopia, Anydrus, Amaurotum and Ademus.
As far as can be ascertained, utopia made its first appearance in popular music as part of the name of an obscure doo-wop duo called Mike and the Utopians in 1958. Since then, it has often been used not only in group names but also in album and song titles: the All Music Guide lists over 60 groups ranging from straight-forward Utopia to Fragile Utopia, Utopia Judgment, Utopia Banished, Former Utopia, Flux Utopia, Entropical Utopia, Utopia Research, Bleeding Utopia, Utopia Factory, Utopian Hedonism, Utopic Sporadic Orchestra, Banned from Utopia, and Training for Utopia, with over 220 albums and more than 4,000 songs referring to utopia in their titles.1 Occasionally, as in the case of an Italian jazz pianist Stefano Battaglia, such references are more sophisticated, testifying to some knowledge of the genre, as evident from the album’s title, The River of Anyder (2011) and some of the tracks (“Bensalem,” “Return to Bensalem,” and “Nowhere Song”), even though it would not be easy to semanticise the sounds constituting these compositions, despite the artist’s commentary and quotations from Utopia and New Atlantis included in the ← 29 | 30 → enclosed booklet.2 Other examples of jazz musicians’ use of the name Utopia include Stan Getz’s Utopia (1978), Mal Waldron’s Quadrologue at Utopia...
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