Do you mourn the death of the album?

I’ve got 50+GB of music on my hardrive. I think i’m gonna get an Ipod to have it all with me in my car. I’ve been a holdout on this particular technology. I still burn Cd’s.

But my question to everyone, is do you feel regret that this admittedly cool technology has killed a certain art form. That art form being the Album. Not necessarily literally vinyl, but the idea of an entire CD with a theme and a mood. People download songs now. And artists produce just songs now. It’s kind of reverting to the 50’s. Where the whole market was singles.

Why would an artist bother to create an album knowing the kids are just gonna download the hit song? Does anyone even make them anymore?

The era of ‘Darkside of the Moon’ or ‘Loveless’ or ‘Ok Computer’ or ‘London Calling’ is over. A theme, a mood, a grand idea lasting 60 minutes or so. Now someone downloads ‘Karma Police’ or ‘Time’,but it kills the experience when you don’t hear the whole work as it was intended. The songs that come before and after. The world changes, but i’m sad to see this particular art form go.

Sure, there are still hundreds of album releases every month. Now, the kids maybe download the single songs, but I think there are many old farts like me who still like the concept of an album (on a physical medium btw.), and many, many musicians and bands that believe in this particular art form. Kids downloading single pop songs and 30 or 40 somethings raised on listening to albums are two different markets, IMHO.

Having said that, I see that in the future, the album as an art form will become less important/popular, and yes, I am mourning this development. But I don’t think that the album will vanish completely.

I was mourning the decline of the album but when I organize the music on my ipod I find myself increasingly deleting all the songs I don’t want coming up on shuffle. Great albums like OK Computer are linked up so if I listen to one song it will play them all but there are very few of those in my collection. For the most part I’ve decided that I like the variability that comes with shuffling my entire collection. It’s like spinning a giant wheel and I want all the slots to be filled up with songs I like. Great albums have their own playlist and there are a lot of Tool and Radiohead albums in there where I find the songs work best in there native state so to speak but more and more I have a collection of songs rather than albums.

I don’t agree. In my opinion, there are very, very few albums that need to be listened to in song order, in its entirety. (I’m 58, by the way, so I grew up with albums.)

Artists get a bit precious about this. To take one of your examples, Dark Side Of The Moon: the album has a rather nebulous overarching concept (madness etc), but, apart from the linking pieces of dialogue, the songs don’t really have any thematic or musical connections. Don’t forget that several of the songs were resurrected from other projects, like Zabriskie Point, and were used because they were there. (This is a common Pink Floyd practice.)

Loveless (marvellous though it is) is no more a concept album than London Calling. Songs from any of the aforementioned albums stand up perfectly well on their own, and don’t need the concept (even if there is one). There aren’t many albums where all the tracks have equal merit, and I think the freedom the downloader has to be selective is very positive. The artist can’t hide less good tracks on an album anymore; each one has to stand on its own merits.

I love albums - but for me it was the hour spent reading the liner notes and staring at the pictures and artwork on the album cover - thinking about the people who were inspired to write and perform the music in that way for that reason. And to wonder who all their shout outs were to and what the stories there might be. I loved listening to the music on my record player, tracing my fingers across the graphics of the band logo and just being the dreamy teenager.

I loved all the associated intermittent sounds as well. The way the records would drop after each one finished playing, the scratchiness of the needle, the penny you invariably had to top to the top of the record needle to keep it all in the groove.

There’s a lost art to enjoying music that the plug and play generation will just never understand.

I can count on both hands the number of albums where I’ve liked most of the songs on it, and have always preferred my music as “singles”. So no, I’m not sad to see albums as a concept on the way out, and am glad we’re reverting to a 1950s model where it’s all about singles. Your results may vary, of course.

A concept album is cool, but really how many are there? I mean true concept albums.

Too many artists add filler to albums, just to get royalties for themselves. Usually the filler songs are by the artist or producer or some other person working on the album.

I always did think it was interesting the way albums were arranged though. If I bough an album by an artist, I’d always liked to figure out which songs would be released as singles eventually

I miss albums for their cover art and liner notes. I used to love to look at all my albums or read teh liner notes while listening to a record. I think that began to be lost with CDs, and is completely gone with MP3s.

ETA: Or what melodyharmonious said!

Sometimes. I’m thankful that I get the choice to just download the one song if that’s all I want. But I think a lot of artists are still releasing albums as works that are meant to be “complete” and focused - in fact there’s been a bit of a resurgence lately of the short, concise pop album, made to be all-killer no-filler, with a constant mood and theme. Some examples from 2009 are Shakira’s She Wolf (8 tracks + Spanish versions of 2 of those tracks), Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster (8 tracks), and this year, Kelis’ new album will be 9 tracks, while M.I.A.'s new album is rumoured to be just 30 minutes long.

I think this is a really positive development, because artists don’t get much of a chance to make an impact these days with the attention spans of music listeners becoming smaller and smaller. The days of the sprawling double album or 80 minute CD are coming to an end because people now don’t tend to give songs or albums a chance unless they’re immediate. If an album is full of filler people will recognise this and instead of buying the CD (or the digital album), they’ll go to iTunes and download the singles instead - meaning money lost for the performer and label.

I might be rambling about irrelevant crap here but the point I’m trying to make is - I don’t think the album will ever die, it’s just changing.

The majority of my purchases on the itunes music store or have been entire albums, as opposed to picking individual songs or ‘making mix cds.’ However, on emusic I often grab odd songs, and I was always picking and choosing individual songs on napster before I got fed up with the windows DRM crashing on me.

So my mileage varies.

Those of us who grew up listening to punk and buying 7" singles and splits should make the switch more naturally than most I would have that. Yet I find that it’s those groups who are clinging most stubbornly to the album format (amongst my group of friends).

Not really.
I grew up buying 45’s (remember those?), and usually only bought a full album if a) It was by one of my few favorite artists, b) It had been out for long enough that I already knew most of the songs, or c) It was dirt cheap in the cutout bin.

I do own some great albums, but they are far outnumbered by those with 2 or 3 songs I like and 8 I don’t give a shit about.

CD’s pretty much killed off the singles market, and now iTunes and the like have resurrected it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

multimediac17 reminded me of another problem with albums, and that’s that artists tended to feel that they had to fill the type of media’s capacity. So LPs had to be 30-40 minutes long, and CDs had to be 80 minutes long - whether or not they actually had that much music of a sufficient quality. If they didn’t…well, that’s why it’s called filler.

Some of my favorite songs are “filler” on some album!

I miss the artwork and “flow” as well. A good producer could make an album into a journey.

:confused: If they’re your favourite songs, they can’t be filler.

Yes, I miss the artwork, too.

“Filler” as in “weren’t hits, were never released as singles and I’m the only person, including the artist, who ever listens to them.” :smiley:
It’s meaningless now, since “record stores” are all but history, but I remember fondly studying album covers for inspiration when building store displays. We won jackets one time for our giant display for Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. We built a big styrofoam tripod and had it breaking through a wall, melting albums with its “heat ray.”

I have very few albums that have “filler” material in them. It’s a meaningless term for “songs I don’t like.” Much of what you might think of as filler are actually pretty damn good songs.

Albums do have a mood and flow. Also, you start to expect the next song; hearing them out of order is jarring.

We have something in common. I have to keep on explaining to people that I’m not being perverse in always liking the tracks that no-one else does.

I was working for CBS when that came out, and the official displays for that album were rather ‘dominant’. Incidentally, *that *is a true concept album.

I agree. And I will add that there are some songs that don’t work that well on their own but are wonderful in the context of the album they’re a part of (e.g. many of the tracks on Side 2 of Abbey Road).

And that there are plenty of songs that had to grow on me, that I wouldn’t have given the chance they needed to become favorites if they hadn’t been part of an album.

I am much more an album listener than a song listener. I still tend to put on a CD, or an album in mp3 form, and listen to it all the way through. And I think there are enough people like me that the album will never really die.

And I think the “album” is far from dead. I can go to and look at all the new albums being released. I can pick up a magazine and read reviews of the latest albums. Plenty of musicians still think in terms of recording an releasing their next album. (And I suspect this is more true of the artists who aren’t big stars with big hits and lots of hype but who have something to say musically and who put creativity and craftsmanship into everything they do, for the sake of their fans and of lovers of the kind of music they make.)

So, I don’t think the album is “dead,” but I do think we may be going back to the era when the record stores offered a wide selection of 45s along with their LPs. The kids can still buy their singles, and the albums are still available for people who like that thing or who want to take a deeper look at what the artists they like are doing.

I download an album at a time, I don’t just want to hear the popular tracks. I sometimes buy the CD if it’s something I’m really looking forward to.