Mononym Mythology is a music video culture newsletter by me, Sydney Urbanek, where I write about mostly pop stars and their visual antics. I’ve been writing it since 2020, and in that time have been lucky enough to see it cited places like the Guardian, MUBI’s Notebook, Vulture, Criterion’s Current, and Adam Nayman’s David Fincher: Mind Games (2021).
I’m interested in anything and everything at the intersection of popular music and moving images—music videos, rockumentaries, artists starring as thinly-veiled versions of themselves in blockbusters, and so on—but especially how artists use those things for mythmaking purposes. Sometimes I dive into a particular video, sometimes I interview an author or director, sometimes I embark on a research project to better understand a piece of history or the industry, and sometimes I just string sentences together and hope for the best.
Outside of this newsletter, I’m a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto, where I was born and raised. My work has appeared in Billboard, the Guardian, CBC Arts, Sight and Sound, Little White Lies, Paste, the YouTube channel Be Kind Rewind, and elsewhere. (Here are some highlights.) I have a Master of Arts in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where I wrote my thesis on surveillance culture in Jonas Åkerlund’s films and music videos—mainly those for Madonna, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga.