Pop manifestos and nosebleed art rock: What have post-punk bands achieved? | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2044-1983
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3706



‘Post-punk’ has been defined in a variety of ways. Some commentators view it primarily as a reaction to punk, with distinct musical features. Others debate whether its organizing principle can even be found in a stylistic unity. Ryan Moore has described how punk responded to a ‘condition of postmodernity’. In his view, postmodernism represented an ‘exhaustion of totalizing metanarratives’. Within this context punk used bricolage to ‘turn signs and spectacles against themselves, as a means of waging war on society’. For the purposes of this piece post-punk is broadly considered a response to punk’s response to postmodernism. This article addresses how manifestos came to be used in various examples of post-punk music. It uses, as a starting point, Julia Downes’ description of musical manifestos in riot grrrl as a ‘key way to define … ideological, aesthetic and political goals’. A series of chronological case studies investigate the key components and aesthetics of the post-punk manifesto, which include the use of lists, itemization and direct second-person address. Given Simon Reynolds’ view that post-punk ‘tried to make politics and pop work together, but failed’, this article examines whether the goals of post-punk manifestos were at all achieved. Were manifestos in the main, promotional or self-motivating exercises? Do recent ‘post-punk’ manifestos, such as those by the band Savages, both acknowledge and move beyond the limitations of earlier models, to increasingly alter how people consume music?


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): bricolage; identity; manifestos; performativity; post-punk; punk; subcultures
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