ORIENTALISM IN POPULAR MUSIC: 1970-current
Orientalism has been surfacing in popular Western music for decades, but has been on the increase since the 1970s through today. It has found its way into many various music genres and has appeared in countless forms. Here, we will look at two of the largest categories: Pop/Hip Hop music and Rock/Alternative music. Although there are overlapping themes in these different genres, there are some substantial differences in how Orientalism is formed and expressed in the songs. Typically, in the Pop/Hip Hop songs Orientalism can be most overtly noticed in the fashion and style of the artists and in the blatant sexualization of the women from the Orient. Although this also occurs within what is referred to as "Raga" Rock/Alternative music, it is not the most prominent occurrence of Orientalism. In this genre, Orientalism tends to arise within the sounds and lyrics of the music itself. Many rock songs try to create a faux Middle-Eastern sound by playing the sitar and including lyrics that are sung in Arabic. Additionally, the songs may dwell on the spiritual enlightenment and idealized utopian environment one may expect when exploring Oriental regions.