Ballads: A History of Emotions in Popular Culture

Author: Metzer, David

Publication details: Presented at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, 17 March 2018.


Abstract: Ballads tell us much about how feelings are understood and experienced in popular culture at particular moments. In my book The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé, a larger historical development emerges: a desire to experience feelings in bigger and bolder ways. Important songs and repertoires in this emotional crescendo include Johnnie Ray’s “Cry,” 1960s soul ballads, and the power ballad. Since the 1970s, power ballads have taken this desire to euphoric, giddy heights.