Pop Conference 2017

A melting pot for fans, musicians, scholars, and journalists.

  1. 2016 MoPOP Pop Conference participants shared personal reflections and wrestled with artists' legacies at a special "In Memoriam" panel, organized in tribute to recently passed artists including Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister, and others.

    Photo by Nat Seymour.

  2. Moderator Ann Powers (NPR Music) explored the role of voice in music with singers Merrill Garbus, Valerie June, and k.d. lang at the 2016 Pop Conference keynote panel.

    Photo by Brady Harvey.

  3. Sonic Boom took the winning title against teams from Everyday Music, Spin Cycle, and Easy Street at MoPOP's first-ever Record Store Showdown, where a few of Seattle's independent record stores put their encyclopedic knowledge of music to the test.

    Photo by Brady Harvey.

The annual Pop Conference at MoPOP, first held in 2002, mixes together ambitious music writing of every kind, in an attempt to bring academics, critics, musicians, and dedicated fans into a collective conversation.

APRIL 20–23, 2017 AT MoPOP

Music tends to anticipate politics—young people give a dress rehearsal of what’s to come, building movements or prefiguring new worlds. No less powerfully, music is shaped by politics, from rules of copyright, drinking ages, and noise volumes to crises of war and social injustice, rents in the fabric. Music’s connection to politics goes beyond sloganizing lyrics; it organizes, stirs, performs possibility.

This year’s diverse presenters explore the intersection of music and politics on many levels, from torch songs about degradation to funky future fantasias, from Morrissey’s relationship to disability culture to the queer, Mexican icon Juan Gabriel.

Special artist panels feature an interview with David Byrne on Thursday at 4:00pm and a roundtable with Tanya Tagaq, Meredith Graves (Perfect Pussy, MTV), and Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) at 6:15pm on Saturday.

In addition to Pop Con’s regular schedule, informal “soap box” talks will take place in Sky Church Saturday, April 22 in the afternoon. Please contact organizer Eric Weisbard to get involved.


Program Committee Members

José Anguiano (Cal State, Los Angeles); Sarah Dougher (Portland State University); Jasen Emmons (Museum of Pop Culture); Daniel Goldmark (Case Western Reserve University); writer, director, and activist dream hampton; Charles Hughes (Rhodes College); Tavia Nyong’o (Yale); Ann Powers (NPR); writer Laura Snapes; writer and music producer Andy Zax


About the Conference

The conference was held at MoPOP from 2002–2010, then traveled to UCLA in 2011; NYU in 2012; and simultaneously at USC, NYU, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Tulane University, and MoPOP in 2013; before returning to MoPOP as the sole venue in 2014. Three books of conference writing have been published: This Is PopListen Again, and Pop When the World Falls Apart.

Questions? Email Questions? Email Pop_Conference@MoPOP.org

Support for the conference is provided by the University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences, on behalf of the Department of American Studies.