In her new book, Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music, NPR music critic Ann Powers chronicles the complex relationship of race, gender and sexuality in these United States as it plays out over 200 years in American pop music, writes Judy Berman.
“Good Booty turns out to be the perfect title,” says Berman, “because the book recounts how a country founded on Puritan values and scarred by slavery has simultaneously expressed and suppressed its libidinal urges over the years.”
As Powers points out, “The real reason American popular music is all about sex is that we, as a nation, most truly and openly acknowledge sexuality’s power through music.”
But, as Berman notes, no one book can possibly “condense two centuries’ worth of dialectic between black and white musicians” without some “egregious omissions,” particularly during the later half of the 20th century when pop music expands and becomes international.
While Powers fails to mention such iconic pop stars as Sly Stone, Grace Slick, Fleetwood Mac, Bad Brains and the Beastie Boys, she has chosen her subjects wisely, Berman insists, and managed to spotlight “musicians and movements that capture each era’s carnal zeitgeist.” And Good Booty ultimately leaves the reader wanting more.