In his new book, Tween Pop: Children’s Music and Public Culture
(Duke University Press, 2020), Tyler Bickford
explores how the tween music market rose during the mid to late 2000s. Bickford addresses the ways in which the music industry seized only childishness as a key element in legitimizing children's participation in public culture. Starting with how Kidz Bop and Disney’s High School Musical
(2006), Bickford argues that tween music culture flourished due to the commodification of childhood and the rise of television and pop music stars. Focusing on the ways that femininity and whiteness are markers are innocence and childhood, Bickford examines Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana through a postfeminist discourse of work life balance, Taylor Swift’s longstanding relationship with girlhood and whiteness, and Justin Bieber’s label as child prodigy as a way to cement his position as a super star. In outlining how tween pop imagined and positioned childhood as both intimate and public as well as a cultural identity to be marketed to, Bickford demonstrates the importance of children's music to core questions of identity politics, consumer culture, and the public sphere.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. She is the author of Writing a Riot: Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics
(Peter Lang, 2018). You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.