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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay focuses on English-language popular songs about HIV/AIDS and offers a five-part typology based not on sonic markers of musical genre but instead on lyric content. Its central argument is that song lyrics carry important political messages and constitute a significant and under-studied contribution to the broader culture of arts-based HIV/AIDS activism. In AIDS-themed elegies, protest songs, pedagogical songs, confessional songs, and a small category of songs in bad taste, songwriters and performers translate the official scientific, medical, and political discourses of HIV/AIDS into vernacular speech idioms. In doing so, ideas and ideologies about HIV/AIDS transcend generic boundaries to effectively reach broad and diverse groups of listeners with varying beliefs, attitudes, and stakes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, popular music, song lyrics, social justice, protest song, genre

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