She?s the Music: U of A Pop Music Student Vies to be Next MuchMusic VJ

October 22, 2009 (Edmonton) &ndash; Self-proclaimed pop-culture junkie and U of A student Elma Mehmedbegovic decided to enter the MuchMusic VJ search on a whim. <br>&nbsp;&ldquo;I was at home watching t

23 October 2009

October 22, 2009 (Edmonton) – Self-proclaimed pop-culture junkie and U of A student Elma Mehmedbegovic decided to enter the MuchMusic VJ search on a whim.

 “I was at home watching television when the commercial came on and I thought to myself: ‘hey, I could do that.’”

She called up a friend with a video camera, spliced together a witty audition tape demonstrating how life without music would be like a terrible experience at the hairdresser, a classroom without students, a hot chick who just shot you down (you get the idea) and sent off her application to be the next great Canadian VJ.

One of 4,000 applicants from across the country, Elma had no idea whether she’d make it through the first round of cuts. She’d prepared for bad news by stocking the freezer with ice cream but, when Much Music called to tell her she’d made it to the top 16, she put the spoon down and created an online social profile for herself.
“The communications director with MuchMusic called me and explained how I needed to profile my social capital by creating a Twitter account, Facebook fan page and my own YouTube channel,” explained Elma. “The second leg of the competition is all about how you can build and connect with an audience.”

As someone who’s been fascinated with pop culture from an early age, Elma brings a world view and critical eye to how she understands and talks about music.
Born in Bosnia, Elma and her family moved to Germany at the height of the Bosnian War where they spent five years before eventually moving to Canada.

“When I was young and we were living in Bosnia, I was surrounded by folk music: Slavic, Russian, Ukrainian,” said Elma. “When we moved to Germany, I found myself listening to a lot techno and trance – mostly because it was what was popular at the time; and then, of course, when we moved to Canada I had the opportunity to listen to – and love – an even wider variety of music.”
Elma gained a critical appreciation for music while studying Popular Music in the Department of Music.

“I needed fine arts credits for my degree and discovered the Popular Music class taught by Michael MacDonald,” she said. “I immediately fell in love with the class – not only did it provide a comprehensive history of music but it also taught me to identify recurring trends in popular music,” Elma explained. “Now, when I look at a music video and see scantily clad women dancing in the background, I know that’s a trend carried over from the flapper era at a time when those women were considered risqué.”
Driven by MacDonald’s passion for music and penchant for directing his students to find their own words to describe music as an aspect of the social world, Elma expanded what she thought was an already robust understanding of music.
“I've always been fascinated by pop culture and been on top of everything in the ‘now,’” said Elma. “Studying pop culture helped me understand the birth of it all: a deeper understanding of where it all began and how it developed, from ASCAP to Motown all the way to new wave. These are things I didn't grow up with, but thanks to a class on pop music culture, I was able to further my knowledge in something I thought I was an expert at.”
After taking the first installment of Popular Music, Elma continued her music education by enrolling in an upper level class.

“I’m currently taking the senior Popular Music class and am learning how to apply critical thought to popular music: I’ve learned to question the motivations behind the music - how is popular music intertwined with history? How does popular music shape the world around us?” she asked. “My hope of becoming a VJ is highly influenced by the fact that I want to mix a little of the old with the new, much like is done in my pop music culture class.”
The only Albertan to make the cut in the competition, Elma is now concentrating on building her fan base in hopes of making it to the top eight.

“I’ve asked all of my friends and family to please, please vote,” she said. “My parents even learned how to use a laptop just so they could vote for me!”
Though she still has a long way to go before the competition is over, Elma is just happy to be a part of the experience.

“Despite the fact the process is a little nerve-racking, it’s been so rewarding at the same time,” said Elma. “Every night, I go to bed and give myself a little pep-talk – I tell myself its okay to fail, and while I’m hopeful I’ll make it to the end of the competition, I know I’ll always have the ice cream.”

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