Dave Stewart tweeted this link to a 1995 publication entitled : Authorship, gender and the construction of meaning in the Eurythmics’ hit recordings.  The article includes analysis of Sweet Dreams, There Must Be An Angel and I Need A Man along with 5 other tracks.


Pop songs are often interpreted, by fans, critics and even academic analysts, in relation to traditional notions of ‘authorship’. But in recent pop, such as the Eurythmics’ hits, these notions are at the very least in tension with a more fragmented construction of subjectivity. This article seeks to develop a method for analysing such constructions, both generally and in specific Eurythmics songs.

The method draws on Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogic theory of subjectivity and meaning, presenting the various parts of songs (i.e., both textural lines and structural sections) as interactive ‘voices’, each with its characteristic style-features. Such features are always culturally marked, through their multiple associations and their different positionings within various discursive domains. It is possible, therefore, to locate the styles, their features and their interrelations on a range of discursive axes (gender, ethnicity, etc.), making up a ‘map’ of the musico-discursive terrain, then to place the ‘dialogue’ constructed in a specific song in relation to these axes, this map.

For the Eurythmics, the gender axis is the most (though not the only) important one. It functions through the differential positioning of constituent styles (pop, blues, soul, disco, ballad, etc.) on this axis; in relation to other axes of meaning; through articulation in the specific socio-historical context of 1980s British pop; and via interaction with visual images (e.g., on accompanying videos).

After an analysis of eight songs, the article concludes with some implications of the method for the interpretation of gender — and more generally of the construction of subjectivity — in music.

1 An earlier version of this article was presented to the annual conference of the Royal Musical Association at Southampton University, March 1993.

You can read an excerpt of the passage here :