Imperial phase

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The imperial phase is the period in which a musical artist is regarded to be at their commercial and creative peak simultaneously.[1][2] The phrase was coined by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys to describe the group's feelings on their career circa "Domino Dancing" (1988).[3]


"Imperial phase" has been applied by pop music critics and fans to the creative output of artists.[4] While its original usage implied that an imperial phase was a one-time occurrence for a single artist, artists have been referred to[by whom?] as having multiple imperial phases.[5] The term may also be applied to non-musical entities, such as film studios.[6]

Critic Tom Ewing described three criteria for defining an artist's imperial phase: "command, permission, and self-definition". He defined "command" as an artist's ability to push the boundaries of their medium in a way that produces lasting change. "Permission" is the public's goodwill toward and interest in the artist's work. Finally, "self-definition" is the concept that the imperial phase defines the rest of the artist's career; future works will be compared to those from the imperial phase.[1]

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  1. ^ a b Ewing, Tom (May 28, 2010). "Imperial". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  2. ^ "Ariana Grande rediscovers her Midas Touch with new album". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Pet Shop Boys Please & Actually & Introspective: reissues". The Quietus. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  4. ^ Molanphy, Chris (1 December 2014). "Why Is Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" No. 1?". Slate. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  5. ^ Macpherson, Alex (10 January 2019). "Ariana Grande's Imperial Phase As A Pop Star Began In Earnest With 'Thank U, Next'". Uproxx. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  6. ^ Breihan, Tom (8 February 2019). "With Guardians Of The Galaxy, Marvel made household names out of interstellar second-stringers". AV Club. Retrieved 14 February 2019.

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