Crossover: Sam Katzman’s Switchblade Calypso Bop Reefer Madness Swamp Girl or ‘Bad Jazz,’ Calypso, Beatniks, Hot Rods, and Rock ’n’ Roll in 1950s Teenpix’

Stanfield, Peter (2010) Crossover: Sam Katzman’s Switchblade Calypso Bop Reefer Madness Swamp Girl or ‘Bad Jazz,’ Calypso, Beatniks, Hot Rods, and Rock ’n’ Roll in 1950s Teenpix’. Popular Music, 29 (3). pp. 437-456. ISSN 0261-1430. (Full text available)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0261143010000255

Abstract

This essay challenges the received wisdom that teenpix of the 1950s were dominated by a soundtrack of rock 'n' roll. I argue that this cycle of film production was marked by a diversity of musical genres, styles and types. Not only rock 'n' roll, but rhythm 'n' blues, folk, rockabilly, swing, West Coast jazz, bebop, Latin music such as the mambo, the rhumba, the cha cha chá, and Caribbean calypsos were all heavily featured in these films. This study is carried out through a focus on the temporal arrangements – fads, cycles, trends – that govern serial production and consumption of movies and popular music. Following Philip Ennis' thesis that rock 'n' roll is best defined by its ability to ‘crossover’ musical boundaries – to move, for example, across the pop, country, and rhythm 'n' blues charts – I argue that the film industry chose not to overly limit the music it had on offer and instead provided a varied package, some of which, it expected, would crossover and appeal to diverse and capricious teenage tastes.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
E History America > E151 United States (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Peter Stanfield
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 15:33
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2014 14:17
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/26189 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
ORCiD (Stanfield, Peter):
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