Hit songs and the dynamics of postcolonial Zimbabwe: a study in popular music trends, 1980-2009

  • Mickias Musiyiwa Stellenbosch University


My intention to analyze hit songs as an embodiment of collective experiences emanates from the special position they occupy in the musical repertoire of any given society. I deliberately avoid examining songs classified under the broad popular music rubric although they never enjoyed any wide appeal. As Charosh (1997: 480) argues, “One may question the practice of identifying songs that languished, unsung on their publishers’ shelves, as music representative of a public’s tasteâ€. Among the songs a particular musician produces on a single album, only one or two, and sometimes none, qualify to acquire the prestigious status of a hit song. Hit songs are a tiny percentage of the huge body of songs recorded during any particular period in a given society. Whereas the vast number of songs that fail to reach hit status are usually forgotten, those few that acquire this celebrated status remain vibrant in the society’s collective memory.