Mark Spicer specializes in the reception history and analysis of popular music, especially British pop and rock since the 1960s, and his writings have appeared widely in scholarly journals and essay collections. His book Sounding Out Pop, co-edited with John Covach, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010, and he has since edited the volume on Rock Music for the Library of Essays on Popular Music series from Ashgate. Spicer’s article “Fragile, Emergent, and Absent Tonics in Pop and Rock Songs” (Music Theory Online, 2017) won the 2020 Outstanding Publication Award from the Society for Music Theory. Among his current and ongoing research projects, he is working on a book that will explore how certain pop and rock musicians since the early 1970s have confronted their anxiety of influence towards the Beatles, provisionally titled In the Beatles’ Wake.
Prof. Spicer served for ten years (2005–15) as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music at Hunter College, and was the 2015 recipient of Hunter’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. In addition to his scholarship and teaching, he maintains an active parallel career as a professional keyboardist and vocalist, having worked with several groups in the US and the UK since the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he was a founding member of the critically acclaimed group Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks, and can be heard on their first two CDs, On the Blank Generation (1991) and World of Fireworks (1994). He continues to take the stage most weekends with his own “electric R&B” group, the Bernadettes, and with the Christ Church Choir in New Haven.
“The Electric Light Orchestra and the Anxiety of the Beatles’ Influence.” In The Pop Palimpsest: Intertextuality in Recorded Popular Music, ed. Lori Burns and Serge Lacasse, 106–36. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018.
“Fragile, Emergent, and Absent Tonics in Pop and Rock Songs.” Music Theory Online 23.2 (2017).
Associate Editor, Music Theory Spectrum, Vols. 35–37 (2013–15).
Editor, Rock Music, The Library of Essays on Popular Music. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2011.
“Introduction: The Rock (Academic) Circus.” In Rock Music, ed. Mark Spicer, xi–xxix.
“(Per)Form in(g) Rock: A Response.” Music Theory Online 17.3 (2011).
Sounding Out Pop: Analytical Essays in Popular Music, co-edited with John Covach. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010.
“'Reggatta de Blanc’: Analyzing Style in the Music of the Police.” In Sounding Out Pop, ed. Mark Spicer and John Covach, 124–53.
“Strategic Intertextuality in Three of John Lennon’s Late Beatles Songs.” In A Music-Theoretical Matrix: Essays in Honor of Allen Forte (Part I), ed. David Carson Berry, Gamut 2/1 (2009): 347–75.
“Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live.” In John Covach, What’s That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and Its History, second edition, 434–35. New York: Norton, 2009. (Revised third edition, 400–01. New York: Norton, 2012.)
“Genesis’s Foxtrot.” In Composition and Experimentation in British Rock, 1966–1976, a special issue of Philomusica Online (2007).
Review-essay of Walter Everett, The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul. Music Theory Online 11.4 (2005).
Review of Progressive Rock Reconsidered, ed. Kevin Holm-Hudson. Twentieth-Century Music 1/2 (2004): 285–93.
“(Ac)cumulative Form in Pop-Rock Music.” Twentieth-Century Music 1/1 (2004): 29–64.
“Large-Scale Strategy and Compositional Design in the Early Music of Genesis.” In Expression in Pop-Rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays, ed. Walter Everett, 77–111. New York: Garland, 2000. (Revised and expanded second edition, 313–44. New York: Routledge, 2008.)
Review of Edward Macan, Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. In American Rock and the Classical Music Tradition, Contemporary Music Review 18/4 (2000): 149–58.