Power ballads, parlour songs, torch songs

METZER, D. (2016). The Power Ballad and the Power of Sentimentality. Journal of American Studies:


As is evident in their popularity and uses in television and film, power ballads have been prized for their emotional intensity. That intensity results from the ways in which the songs transform aspects of sentimentality developed in nineteenth- and twentieth-century repertoires, particularly parlor songs and torch songs. Power ballads energize sentimental topics and affects with rapturous feelings of uplift. Instead of concentrating on individual emotions like earlier sentimental songs do, power ballads create charged clouds of mixed emotions that produce feelings of euphoria. The emotional adrenaline rushes in power ballads are characteristic of larger experiences in popular culture in which emotions are to be grand, indiscriminate, and immediate.”

Gustave Le Bon, in his preface to The Crowd (1895):

“A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself immediately calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first. . . . Our reason shows us the incoherence there is in these images, but a crowd is almost blind to this truth, and confuses with the real event what the deforming action of its imagination has superimposed thereon. A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images evoked in its mind. . . .
Whatever be the ideas suggested to crowds they can only exercise effective influence on condition that they assume a very absolute, uncompromising, and simple shape. They present themselves then in the guise of images, and are only accessible to the masses under this form. These imagelike ideas are not connected by any logical bond of analogy or succession.”

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