Catherine RUDENT, Understanding a "hit": Tostaky by Noir Désir

How can one analyze a "hit", i.e. music sold to a large audience, with the support of the contemporary music industry with its technical and financial resources? The academic prejudice against the seemingly common and coarse must first be overcome. One must recognize that the meaning of a song, of an album, must be looked for not only in the lyrics, but also in the sound itself and the meaning it acquires. The acquisition of meaning involves the collective action of the numerous listeners. Nevertheless, it is very obvious and particularly easy to observe within the transitional discourse of the media. In this paper we propose to decode the meaning of an album, Noir Désir's Tostaky, a best seller since its release in 1992. We will combine musical analysis and a study of magazines and newspapers, the latter demonstrating that musical meaning is constructed with both compositional choices and ways of conceiving and perceiving these choices.