Mononym Mythology is a newsletter by me, Sydney Urbanek, where I’ve been writing about various intersections of popular music and moving images since 2020.

I’m a freelance writer/speaker/editor best known for my work on pop icons—not necessarily mononymous ones, I just like alliteration—and I specialize in how they shape their mythos through movies and music videos. Before I was an adult who professionally weighed in on Madonna and Prince, I was a kid whose imagination was shaped by Britney and Shania, and a teen who spent obsessive hours online with Gaga and Beyoncé.

This newsletter is some combo of crate-digging, reporting, storytelling, and shooting the shit—whatever I’m most feeling that day. Sometimes I’ll go back through decades of history and narrativize it, sometimes I’ll interview a director or author or even dancer, and sometimes I’ll simply string sentences together and hope for the best. I gravitate towards artists who take big swings and try to cause trouble, and my usual suspects are musicians who also consider themselves filmmakers and/or engage cinephiles in some other way.

I write this newsletter from Toronto, where I was born and raised, and typically edit it out loud for my Weimaraner Roy, who loves the animals in Janet’s “Together Again” (1997). I also 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 work.

You can reach me at sydneyurbanek@gmail.com, and I’m also on X and Instagram.