The aim of the paper is to examine hits lists and radio programs as a means by which canons in popular music are established and maintained. A canon is a form of cultural sacralisation of values, manifested as music taste and opinions concerning records, songs, artists and media broadcasts rated as the most important by a given group (as canons are relative by definition). In popular music a canon stems from the mass media activity which publish reviews and opinions on artists and their music: journalists and authors, by giving the best grades to selected albums, artists, or music events, sacralise and provide them the extraordinary canonical status. As a result, canons serve as factors by which cultural hegemony of dominant discourse is spread and they provide a means of symbolic control over values important for a human group. 

In the above context I discuss the examples of radio programs led by influential music journalists in Poland of the of 1980s, namely, Lista Przebojów Programu 3 (The Hits List of Polish Radio Program 3), Zapaszamy do Trójki, Mini Max and other programs on Radio 3. The station was very popular in the 80s., shaping music taste of Polish intelligentsia throughout the 80s, 90s and later. As a result, the music programs on Polish Radio 3 became special institutions creating music canons and reproducing hegemonic discourse concerning popular music, but also they petrified music taste of the middle class intelligentsia closing it in a certain aesthetic “bubble”. Radio presenters and journalists working for the program effectively influenced the reception of music not only in aesthetic but also in axiological way, imposing socially shared definitions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ music, as they aired and promoted some sub-genres of popular music and excluded or ignored others.


prof. dr hab. Marek JEZIŃSKI, PhD, works at the Philosophy and Social Sciences Faculty of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (Poland), he is the head of Communication, Media and Journalism Dept. He published six monographs and almost 150 academic papers on popular music, political science, political language, sociology, popular culture, new social movements, contemporary theatre and performance. Also he is an editor of several academic books on popular culture, art, media and communication, journalism, cultural anthropology and political sciences. His main hobby is music: he plays in the experimental/industrial/improvised band Tacuara Nod, and in dark-industrial-cyber punk duo Der Birken.

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