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“The most passionate cover I’ve seen”: emotional information in fan-created U2 music videos

Diane Rasmussen Pennington (Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 9 May 2016



The purpose of this paper is to explore how both producers and consumers of user-created music videos on YouTube communicate emotional information.


In total, 150 filmic documents containing fan-generated versions of U2’s “Song for Someone” were purposively collected. The author used discourse analysis to understand the types of videos created, the communication of emotional information from both the producers and the consumers, the social construction of emotion in the filmic documents, and elements of intertextuality that represented emotion.


Fans created videos containing cover versions, original versions of the song with new visual content, and tutorials about how to play the song. Producers of cover versions communicated emotional information, especially tenderness, through facial expression, their surroundings, and corresponding musical elements. Producers’ visual content expressed emotion through meaningful photographs and sad stories. Producers’ descriptions revealed emotion as well. Emotions were individually experienced and socially constructed. Consumers conveyed emotion through likes, dislikes, and expressive positive comments. Intertextuality communicated passion for U2 through tour references, paraphernalia displays, band photographs, imitating the band, and musical mashups.

Practical implications

Information science can work towards a new generation of multimedia information retrieval systems that incorporate emotion in order to help users discover documents in meaningful ways that move beyond keyword and bibliographic searches.


This is one of the earliest research papers in the area of emotional information retrieval (EmIR).



Rasmussen Pennington, D. (2016), "“The most passionate cover I’ve seen”: emotional information in fan-created U2 music videos", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 3, pp. 569-590.



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