Sexual Subversion and the Subdominant: The Case of Suede

Smith, KM ORCID: 0000-0001-7414-9180
(2017) Sexual Subversion and the Subdominant: The Case of Suede. Music Analysis, 36 (01). pp. 116-137.

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The first two studio albums from Suede (in America, ‘The London Suede’), fruits of a collaboration between Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson, served as the erotically twisted underbelly of early 1990s Britpop, adding bizarre, seductive alternatives to the relatively normalised sexual experiences described in the songs of Pulp or Blur. A vital part of the band's aesthetics, Suede's harmonic progressions prove to be extremely dexterous, with sinuous voice leading and meandering key changes, often based on common‐tone modulations and parsimony rather than any sense of dominant‐to‐tonic resolution. Using a range of songs from an extensive corpus study, I theorise the chord patterns that were to become recognisable Suede clichés (the ♭VI–V progressions and the III/♭VII/♭II dominant substitutes). In doing so I posit a sense of substituted functionality (T , S or D ) and a sense of flow in a D ‐wards or S ‐wards direction. Uncovering a strong predilection for the latter, I return to examine their earlier work in a new light with readings of ‘Sleeping Pills’ and ‘Pantomime Horse’ from their debut album, Suede .

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Special Issue on Popular Music
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2016 10:50
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:36
DOI: 10.1111/musa.12087
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