The Outstanding Publication Award

The PMIG Outstanding Publication Award was established in 2012, and exists to acknowledge the best article, essay, or book involving the theory and/or analysis of popular music by a senior scholar.

  • Any work published within two years of the application deadline is eligible.
  • Forthcoming works are not eligible.
  • Previous award recipients are ineligible to compete for the same award in subsequent years.
  • Junior scholars are ineligible for this award.

The Adam Krims Award

Since 2013, the PMIG also grants the Adam Krims Award to a junior scholar with an outstanding publication.

  • This award can go to one who has received a Ph.D. no more than seven calendar years ago (or in the case of someone who does not hold a Ph.D., before the author reaches the age of forty).
  • Any work published within two years of the application deadline is eligible.
  • Forthcoming works are not eligible.
  • Previous award recipients are ineligible to compete for the same award in subsequent years.

Nomination and award process

Self-nominations are encouraged. Nominations are solicited by the PMIG chair in August, at which time a post will be made on the Humanities Commons page with further information on how to nominate.

An Award Committee, consisting of the PMIG chair, the previous year’s winners of each award, and a volunteer scholar appointed by the PMIG chair (if necessary), will determine the awards.

Prizes for both awards will be given at the Society for Music Theory conference during the business meeting portion of the PMIG interest group session.

Prior award winners by year


The winner of the Outstanding Publication Award is Noriko Manabe for her article “We Gon’ Be Alright? The Ambiguities of Kendrick Lamar’s Protest Anthem,” Published in Music Theory Online. This year’s winner has a particularly poetic significance, because it began as a lightning talk for a Pop Music Interest Group meeting in 2016. In this article, Manabe analyzes the meter and intonation of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” in order to contrast the apparent ambivalence in Lamar’s performance with the song’s adaptations as a protest anthem. The committee felt that this article shows Dr. Manabe doing what she does best, combining close and careful music analysis with thoughtful sociocultural observations.

The winner of the Adam Krims Award is Braxton Shelley for “Analyzing Gospel,” published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. Shelley’s article focuses on the vamp section of gospel songs as a space where religious transcendence is articulated and generated through the use of several musical escalatory techniques: modulation, textural accumulation, and inversion of harmonic riffs. The committee found the writing incredibly rich with reference to existing pop music scholarship, music analysis, and cultural analysis, and yet the writing was simultaneously elegant and pleasurable to read.

The committee was Megan Lavengood (George Mason University), Mark Spicer (Hunter College, CUNY, last year’s winner), and Maeve Sterbenz (last year’s winner).


The winner of the Outstanding Publication Award is Mark Spicer for, “Fragile, Emergent, and Absent Tonics in Pop and Rock Songs.” This article was already widely circulated after its debut at a 2009 SMT meeting and its popularity and influence has increased further after its publication in Music Theory Online. Spicer discusses the narrative impact when a songwriter chooses to present the tonic chord of a piece in only a weakened state, and categorizes three methods for achieving this effect. The article can be accessed for free at

The winner of the Adam Krims Award is Maeve Sterbenz for “Movement, Music, Feminism: An Analysis of Movement-Music Interactions and the Articulation of Masculinity in Tyler, the Creator’s ‘Yonkers’ Music Video.” This article approaches the analysis of movement in music videos from a queer and feminist framework that discusses the performance of failure as subversive in a culture that defaults to overcoming narratives. The article is published in Music Theory Online and can be accessed free of charge at


The PMIG Outstanding Publication award went to Alison Stone for her book The Value of Popular Music: An Approach from Post-Kantian Aesthetics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

The Adam Krims Award for publication by a junior scholar went to to Drew Nobile for his article “Harmonic Function in Rock Music: A Syntactical Approach,” Journal of Music Theory60, no. 2 (2016).

The committee was Kyle Adams (Indiana University at Bloomington), Robin Attas (Mt. Alison University), and Nancy Murphy (University of Houston).


The PMIG Outstanding Publication award went to Kyle Adams for his article, “What Did Danger Mouse Do? The Grey Album and Musical Composition in Configurable Culture.” The committee commended this article for challenging the notions of authorship in popular music through an insightful investigation into the act of creating a musical mash up.

The Adam Krims Award for publication by a junior scholar went to Robin Attas for her article “Form as Process: The Buildup Introduction in Popular Music.” The committee was impressed by how this study expands the analysis of meter in popular music, capturing in detail the experience of musical grooves using a process-based approach to musical meter.

The committee was Mark J. Butler (Northwestern University), Dave Easley (Oklahoma City University), and Nancy Murphy (University of Houston).


The PMIG Outstanding Publication award, given to the best publication involving the theory or analysis of popular music written by a senior scholar was given to Mark Butler for his book Playing with Something That Runs: Technology, Improvisation, and Composition in DJ and Laptop Performance, which brings its culture to life for the reader by engaging methodologies as diverse as interview, ethnography, sound studies, and performance studies.

The PMIG Adam Krims Award, given to the best publication involving the theory or analysis of popular music written by a junior scholar, was this year given to Dave Easley for his article “Riff Schemes, Form, and the Genre of Early American Hardcore Punk” in Music Theory Online 21/1. The committee found that, in addition to its theoretical elegance, this article was commendable for its attention to the actual discourse used between the musicians themselves, as well as the fans of this music.

The committee was Brad Osborn (University of Kansas), Steven Rings (Chicago; last year’s winner), and Nick Stoia (Duke University; last year’s winner).


The PMIG Outstanding Publication Award went to Steven Rings, “A Foreign Sound to Your Ear: Bob Dylan Performs ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),’ 1964-2009,” Music Theory Online vol. 19, no. 4 (2013). The panel agreed that this article exhibits a depth of research seldom encountered in a single article, not only providing the kind of close reading needed for such an in-depth examination, but also a method of analysis that could be applied to other singers.

The Adam Krims Award for a publication by a junior scholar went to Nick Stoia, “The Common Stock of Schemes in Early Blues and Country Music,” Music Theory Spectrum vol. 35, no. 2 (2013). The panel agreed that among the article’s many contributions, the manner in which the author deconstructs what is supposedly a single formal structure for the genre, presenting instead a series of discrete formal processes, will likely lead to more nuanced views of the form and genre.

The committee was Robert Fink (last year’s winner), Brad Osborn (last year’s winner and PMIG Chair), and Lori Burns.


The PMIG Outstanding Publication Award went to Robert Fink, “Goal Directed Soul: Analyzing Rhythmic Teleology in African American Popular Music,” Journal of the American Musicological Society vol. 64, no. 1. The panel agreed that this article takes an intellectually broad, musically insightful approach, and has significant implications for our field as well as the broader spectrum of popular music studies.

The Adam Krims Award for a publication by a junior scholar went to Brad Osborn, “Subverting the Verse-Chorus Paradigm: Terminally Climactic Forms in Recent Rock Music,” Music Theory Spectrum vol 35, no. 1. The panel agreed that this article introduces a significant new concept and demonstrates its usefulness across a broad range of recent rock.

The committee was Allan Moore (last year’s winner), Joti Rockwell, and Anna Stephan-Robinson.


The Popular Music Interest Group is pleased to announce the inaugural Popular Music Interest Group Publication Award, which goes to Allan Moore for his new book Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song (Ashgate, 2012). The award committee consisted of Anna Stephan-Robinson (Chair), Nicole Biamonte, and, until his untimely death, Adam Krims.

Executive Board

Executive Board

Chair of the Popular Music Interest Group: Megan Lavengood
Website Editor: Alyssa Barna
Past Chairs

  • 2015-2017: Nancy Murphy
  • 2013-2015: Brad Osborn
  • 2011-2013: Anna Stephan-Robinson
  • 2009-2011: Joti Rockwell
  • 2008-2009: Nicole Biamonte
  • 2006-2007: Mark Butler
  • 2004-2005: Jocelyn Neal
  • 2002-2003: Tim Hughes
  • 2000-2001: Brian Robison
  • 1998-1999: John Covach


Society for Music Theory – our parent organization

PMIG Humanities Commons Site – a collaborative database to assist in the teaching and research of popular music studies. Discussion, announcements, events, and resources are available on this site.

PMIG Examples Database – A editable Google Sheet containing crowdsourced examples of musical techniques in popular music.

American Musicological Society – the largest scholarly association devoted to musicology in the U. S. A.

International Association for the Study of Popular Music – a worldwide body promoting the study of our subject

Society for American Music – an organization that stimulates the appreciation, performance, creation and study of American music in all its diversity

Center for American Music, University of Texas at Austin – a scholarly center that advances the teaching, scholarship, and performance of American music from all traditions

Popular Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology – an intellectual community within the Society for Ethnomusicology whose members share overlapping interests in the study of popular music, both broadly and narrowly defined

Experience Music Project – an interactive museum of popular and other music located in Seattle, Washington

Popular Music – an international multi-disciplinary journal published by Cambridge University Press

Journal of Popular Music Studies – a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to research on popular music throughout the world. Published by Blackwell.

Popular Culture/American Culture Associations – a member of the H-NET Humanities Online initiative. H-PCAACA encourages scholarly discussion of popular/american and world cultures