Digital Music: Do you prefer whole albums or are you a cherry-picker?

There are exceptions, of course — but in general, I’m a cherry picker.

After decades of being forced to buy an album of 10 songs when there were two that I liked and eight fillers, I am an unabashed cherry-picker.

I’m a cherry-picker, although there are certain artists that I’ve sampled and then gone back and purchased whole albums from.

Albums for sure!

If the album isn’t good enough to listen to from beginning to end, I usually don’t bother listening to the one or two good tracks in it.

Both actually. I’ll download entire albums from artists I know I like. I’ll also download albums that make lists like “Rolling Stone / Pitchfork / VH1 / Billboard Must Have Albums of Whenever”. I’ll also cherry pick specific songs I hear or occassional download a smart list generated by Rhapsody.

Every now and then, I’ll decide I want to “get into” a particular band. I might download a “greatest hits” CD or a bunch of their singles if they don’t have one.

I mostly get whole albums because of album-only bonus tracks.

I’m definitely a cherry picker. I rarely listen to whole albums and much prefer to just load my MP3 player (or my computer’s media player) with a big ecclectic list of songs and let it shuffle.

Whole albums.

Nostalgia - It’s cool to hear a track and remember that it was #4 on the album with the bitchin’ cover and that I listened to it over and over junior year, etc. In the cassette and CD days I often grew to like songs due to repetition.

When it comes to musicals or concept albums I find that I grow to like songs I didn’t think much of initially just because of the way they advance the story.

Cherry picker. Especially since some tracks are duplicates.

And I usually shuffle-play everything anyway.

Whole albums and I want the songs played in order. An album is a unified concept. A lot of thought went into choosing the songs and their order.
You don’t shuffle chapters in a book and read them. :wink:

Music is a luxury item, so I pick and choose my few songs a year very carefully. The only complete album I’ve purchased since the digital age arrived has been Dark Side of the Moon.

With absolutely no offense intended, this is an assertion I’ve heard before and always found kind of baffling.

The chapters of a book rely on each other to serve their purpose and convey the author’s story. Reading a single chapter of a novel without any previous knowledge of the novel or its characters or its plot (in other words, without reading the preceding chapters) would be confusing and unlikely to lead to any enjoyment of the chapter in question except on a very technical level (this scene was well written, that bit of dialog was clever, etc.)

The songs of an album are much more discrete and self-contained pieces. You could play a single song off an album for a person and they can appreciate the song in a way you couldn’t appreciate a single chapter of a book. For example, if the song tells a specific narrative, they would be able to follow that narrative from just the individual song.

Put another way, you don’t need to hear A Hard Day’s Night (the song) to understand or enjoy I Should Have Known Better, even though it immediately precedes it on A Hard Day’s Night (the album). The whole album may be more enjoyable than the sum of the individual songs, but each song doesn’t require the whole to function the way a novel’s chapters do.

I understand songs can be appreciated individually. I have put together my own hits tracks on my mp3 player.

Albums try to set a mood or tell a story with the songs. The same is true of a set list at a live concert. The artist is trying to create a complete experience for the listener. If its well done the songs should hit all your emotions.

Depending on my mood, I’ll listen to complete albums. Or sometimes I play the compilations I created. I even turn on the radio once in awhile and see whats playing.

The occasional album has a theme, and the order matters. Most, though, are more like a collection of short stories. I don’t read those in order, either.

Mostly true, but I think there are some tracks that are just hard to understand without the bigger context. Think Pink Floyd or The Doors deep cuts.

Whole albums. I download primarily classical music so cherry picking isn’t really an option.

If I’m downloading rock music, it is usually classic albums that are on sale for $5 and under. Cherry picking wouldn’t save too much money that way.

Of course there are some exceptions, but I usually here the “An albums must be played as a whole, in order” thing as a blanket statement about all music which is part of why it baffles me. As I said, a whole album may be more enjoyable than the sum of the individual songs, but acting like that’s the only way to properly enjoy the songs seems silly to me, especially since the book comparisson is brough up so often (to me, at least) and seems to fit so poorly.

I think it is folks of a certain age ( mine, among others ) that are inclined to this POV. The “concept album” emerged in the 1960’s ( for example the rock operas of The Who ) and enjoyed quite a renaissance through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s ( like 1985’s Hounds of Love by Kate Bush ). The vinyl format with its built-in limitations in a sense encouraged artistic creativity in the same way the limitations of B & W film did.

I think it has become increasingly less relevant over time and obviously never applied to more than a minority of albums released in any given year. But it certainly established a hold on the popular imagination for many of that generation(s).

I’d always attributed it mostly to age, as people who grew up with vinyl (and audio cassettes too, I suppose) had their music more or less locked in specific groupings and specific orders. With or without the influence of concept albums, I could kind of understand the mindset becoming firmly rooted if not for music on radio being played by the song rather than by the album. I would think radio had established a firm0 precident for individual songs rather than albums being the basic unit by which music is experienced.

Cherry picking is like reading two random chapters from a book, just because you like them best. If the group can’t fill out an album with good stuff, then their music isn’t worth paying for.