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The perpetual busman’s holiday: Sir Cliff Richard and British pop musicals

The perpetual busman’s holiday: Sir Cliff Richard and British pop musicals
The perpetual busman’s holiday: Sir Cliff Richard and British pop musicals
Theodor Adorno's assertion that “popular music for the masses is a perpetual busman's holiday” (Adorno 210–11) suggests to me the Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday (1963). In the film, Cliff Richard plays a mechanic who with some coworkers borrows a bus from their workplace and drives across Europe, serving up a number of wholesome songs along the way. Adorno's rather catchy phrase underlines what he saw as the conservative nature and function of popular music, and Cliff Richard's career perhaps has substantiated Adorno's observation. Starting as a rock 'n' roll singer, Cliff (as he is fondly known in Britain) developed into a unique British cultural institution. He became a born again Christian and spoke in favor of censorship, represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest, and sang spontaneously to the rain-drenched crowd at the Wimbledon Tennis Championship. His status as a key icon of Britain since the 1950s was confirmed by his knighthood in 1996, which was an almost unprecedented acknowledgment of the power of pop music and a confirmation of Cliff's cultural status. In light of his popularity, it seems timely to reassess the earliest period of his career and the part that films played in his conversion from a rock 'n' rolling Elvis look-alike to a mainstream youth figure. The conversion directly reflected the changes in pop music culture, the British negotiation of American youth culture, and the addition of rock 'n' roll to the traditional musical film.
0195-6051
146-154
Donnelly, Kevin
b31cebde-a9cf-48c9-a573-97782cd2a5c0
Donnelly, Kevin
b31cebde-a9cf-48c9-a573-97782cd2a5c0

Donnelly, Kevin (1998) The perpetual busman’s holiday: Sir Cliff Richard and British pop musicals. [in special issue: Popular Film, Television, and Music ] Journal of Popular Film and Television, 25 (4), 146-154. (doi:10.1080/01956059809602761).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Theodor Adorno's assertion that “popular music for the masses is a perpetual busman's holiday” (Adorno 210–11) suggests to me the Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday (1963). In the film, Cliff Richard plays a mechanic who with some coworkers borrows a bus from their workplace and drives across Europe, serving up a number of wholesome songs along the way. Adorno's rather catchy phrase underlines what he saw as the conservative nature and function of popular music, and Cliff Richard's career perhaps has substantiated Adorno's observation. Starting as a rock 'n' roll singer, Cliff (as he is fondly known in Britain) developed into a unique British cultural institution. He became a born again Christian and spoke in favor of censorship, represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest, and sang spontaneously to the rain-drenched crowd at the Wimbledon Tennis Championship. His status as a key icon of Britain since the 1950s was confirmed by his knighthood in 1996, which was an almost unprecedented acknowledgment of the power of pop music and a confirmation of Cliff's cultural status. In light of his popularity, it seems timely to reassess the earliest period of his career and the part that films played in his conversion from a rock 'n' rolling Elvis look-alike to a mainstream youth figure. The conversion directly reflected the changes in pop music culture, the British negotiation of American youth culture, and the addition of rock 'n' roll to the traditional musical film.

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Published date: 1998
Organisations: Film

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 392623
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/392623
ISSN: 0195-6051
PURE UUID: 34b1adda-da50-44a4-9a72-1c9cfe79e966

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Date deposited: 27 Apr 2016 15:23
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 19:14

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