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


This year’s Outstanding Publication Award winner is Zachary Wallmark for his article “Analyzing Vocables in Rap: A Case Study of Megan Thee Stallion,” published in the Music Theory Online in 2022. Wallmark investigates Megan Thee Stallion’s performance of vocal fry with [æ] vocables and shows how this becomes an essential sonic fingerprint of Megan’s artistic brand. Drawing on gender, sexuality, and cultural studies, Wallmark situates this sonic icon in a broader semiotic history by tracing the connection between vocal fry and sexual pleasure, and demonstrates how Megan draws on these codes to perform sexual power.

This year’s Adam Krims award goes to Olivia Lucas for her article “Performing Analysis, Performing Metal: Meshuggah, Edvard Hansson, and the Analytical Light Show,” published in Music Theory Online in 2021. Lucas presents a unique analysis of Meshuggah’s live performance by including the light show as an intrinsic part of the audiovisual experience. Through formal analysis and interviews with light designer Edvard Hansson, she illustrates not only that light shows provide multisensory spectacle and visual cues for formal changes to attuned audiences, but also that planning and “choreographing” a light show constitute novel forms of analytical expertise.


This year’s Outstanding Publication Award winner is Mariusz Kozak for his article “Feeling Meter: Kinesthetic Knowledge and the Case of Recent Progressive Metal,” published in the Journal of Music Theory in 2021. Kozak presents a reframing of meter as an expression of culturally situated kinesthetic knowledge using recent progressive metal as a case study. He demonstrates how meter can be understood as an interplay between bodily inquiry and discovery that is shaped by social interaction between listeners and performers as well as entrainment and familiarity with a particular style or genre.

This year’s Adam Krims award goes to Megan Lavengood for her article “The Cultural Significance of Timbre Analysis: A Case Study of 1980s Pop Music, Texture, and Narrative,” published in Music Theory Online in 2020. Lavengood offers a comprehensive, easy-to-understand model based on binary distinctions (e.g., “Bright/dark,” “Pure/noisy,” “Full/hollow,” etc.) to better understanding timbre, one of the most multi-dimensional and elusive aspects of sound. Her work makes significant advances in analyzing instrumental timbre, specifically to synthesized sounds from the Yamaha DX7, which can easily translate to voice and other instruments.


This year’s Outstanding Publication Award winner is Victoria Malawey for her book A Blaze of Light in Every Word: Analyzing the Popular Singing Voice. Malawey presents a systematic and encompassing conceptual model for analyzing vocal delivery, while drawing on research from music theory, pedagogy, gender studies, and philosophy. She brings new clarity to the relationship between the voice’s sonic content and its greater signification, helping us understand the complexity and uniqueness of singing voices.

This year’s Adam Krims award goes to Edwin K. C. Li for his article “Cantopop and Speech-Melody Complex,” AND to Anabel Maler & Robert Komaniecki for their article “Rhythmic Techniques in Deaf Hip Hop,” both published in Music Theory Online. Li investigates native Cantonese speakers’ speech-melody experience of listening to Cantonese popular songs, and proposes a speech-melody complex that embraces native Cantonese speakers’ experience of the potentialities of speech and melody before they come into being. Maler and Komaniecki address the alignment of rhythm and meter in signed and vocal rap and the conveyance of a repeated “beat” through rhythmic signing in their analysis of tracks by ASL hip-hop artists. Both of these articles work to diversify the repertoire of what is typically thought of as popular music, and seamlessly synthesize music analysis with another field.


This year’s Outstanding Publication Award winner is Robin Attas, for her article, “Music Theory as Social Justice: Pedagogical Applications of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly,” published in Music Theory Online in 2019. This article offers core music theory instructors opportunities to engage with popular music, to discuss theoretical topics not usually considered in the music theory core, and to diversify the range of composer identities included in classroom repertoire. In this widely applicable work, Attas encourages instructors of all backgrounds, abilities, and institutional settings to consider ways of incorporating social justice into their own classrooms.

This year’s Adam Krims Award winner is William O’Hara, for his article, “Music Theory and the Epistemology of the Internet; or, Analyzing Music Under the New Thinkpiece Regime,” published in Analitica: Rivista online di studi musicali in 2018. This piece examines the phenomenon of recent articles in the popular press that use music theory, treating it simultaneously as scientifically rigorous, and arcane and mysterious. O’Hara shows that these writings offer fascinating reflections upon music theory as it is practiced in the academy, particularly as it relates to the growing movement to engage with non-specialist audiences.


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.