Religion and Popular Music

Religion and Popular Music: Artists, Fans, and Cultures

by Andreas Häger

Andreas Häger is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-0147-3 (hardback)

    978-1-3500-0148-0 (paperback)

    978-1-3500-0371-2 (epdf)

    978-1-3500-0149-7 (epub)

    978-1-3500-0159-6 (online)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
Religion and Popular Music
Collapse All Sections

Bob Dylan’s brief overt involvement in Christianity, his Jewish background, as well as the use of biblical material in his works, have led to a continuing discussion among fans and critics regarding his relation to religion. This relation is here studied in the context of the “rock mass.” This is a communion service, which is set to some form of popular music, in this case by Dylan. The material comes from Dylan masses in mainline Protestant churches in Scandinavia and North America. The chapter looks at stated reasons for using Dylan in church, the means through which Dylan’s music is adapted to serve as liturgy, and at various non-verbal practices negotiating the balance between understanding the event in question as a divine service or as a concert.

Through in-depth case studies, Religion and Popular Music explores encounters between music, fans, and religion. The book examines several popular music artists – including Bob Dylan, Prince, and Katy Perry – and looks at the way religion comes into play in their work and personas. Genres explored by contributing authors include country, folk, rock, metal, and Electronic Dance Music. Case studies in the book originate from a variety of geographic and cultural contexts, focusing on topics such as nationalism and hard rock in Russia, fan culture in Argentina, and punk and Islam in Indonesia.

Chapters engage with the central issue of how global music meets local audiences and practices, and considers how fans as well as religious groups react to the uses of religion in popular music. It also looks at how they make these interactions between popular music and religion components in their own identity, community, and practice.

Tapping into a vital and lively topic of teaching, research, and wider cultural interest, and employing diverse methodologies across musicians, fans, and religious groups, this book is an important contribution to the growing field of religion and popular music studies.