Baudrillard on Broadway: bio-musicals, the hyperreal and the cultural politics of 'simuloquism'

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Abstract

This article considers the nature of vocal hyperreality in bio-musicals: a form of musical theatre in which actors simulate the voices of well-known pop singers or groups in theatrical retellings of their lives and careers. To do so, I employ the four successive stages of simulacrum found in Jean Baudrillard’s ‘The Precession of Simulacra’ (1981) to consider the potentials and limitations of such vocal simulation in the act of (re)authoring pop singers for the musical stage. Considering the way in which such performances mask or denature their source material (the ‘original’ voices of pop singers and artists), while at the same time employing a dual temporality of cultural memory and current experience, I offer a neologism that may help articulate the complex experience for audience members who attend these productions. The final part of the article considers the peculiar convention of releasing Original Cast Recordings of these works, arguing that these may be symptomatic of Baudrillard’s simulacrum, as popular culture reaches a terminus from which it is unable to progress without regression, intertextuality or manufactured nostalgia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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