Why Was Pink FLoyd's "The Wall" So Popular?

I have often pondered this question: I am curious why people liked “The Wall”. Was it just because of Pink Floyd’s popularity and the music, or the mysterious-kinda plot? Of course, I loved it, but it does not seem like the kind of storyline that would draw so many to it. If anything, it’s kinda depressing, and I wonder why it didn’t turn people off? So, what made it so popular? And, if your answer is that it’s a cult film, is that to say it was only popular because of Pink Floyd, rather than on its own merits as a story? :confused:

Dying to know why the SDMasses think this film was so well received?

  • Jinx
  1. The music is fan-damn-tastic.
  2. ‘Concept’ albums were very big at the time.
  3. The story in the song of alienation and despair resonates with teens.
  4. “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control…” The kids dig that.

Loved it when I used to take acid. Music is still pretty good today. And being depressing? Titanic did pretty well among others.

I should have excluded the druggies and why they liked this film. That goes without saying. Still, many non-dope Dopers enjoyed this film, just the same. Very interesting observations posted so far, though… - Jinx

Not a druggie, just letting you know why I used to watch it :smiley:

Are we talking about the album or the film?

The album had several radio friendly hits and that monster anthem (we don’t need no education…you can’t help but sing along). It’s not the story, it’s the cool tunes.

As for the film, take 3 hits of acid and watch it again. Then you’ll see why it was popular!

Well, we did used to enjoy getting into heated debates over what such-and-such a scene meant. Then you have the excellent animation (“fucking flowers!”).

Oops. Never mind.

I was just going to mention the fucking flowers! Love the fucking flowers! The music and the whole concept were just so fucking great at that time. And the nice thing is, Pink Floyd holds up so well over time. Although I do have some trouble with their very early esoteric stuff, I can still listen to most of their catalog nearly 40 years later.

HAve to agree – the album/live show first made The Wall a huge hit, then the movie built upon that. But just to tprovide my own anecdotal example, I have repeatedly replayed both the studio and live (Is There Anybody Out There) albums, and even rented Waters’ Live-at-the-Berlin-Wall show video, but haven’t sat through a full show of the film in years. Found that it could have been made “leaner”.

Hell, The Wall is still finding new fans.

I was just out of high school when it was first released, and I bought the album immediately. I listened to it so much that when I heard one of the tracks on the radio it felt funny not to have it segue into the next one.

Fast-forward to now. I found The Wall on CD at a tag sale for three bucks and brought it home. My 15-year-old daughter found it, played it…and immediately appropriated the two-disc set to her collection.

I’m sure that’s a big part of it.

I think Sam Stone pretty much nailed the reasons why The Wall (the album) was so popular.

Personally, I liked it solely because of the music. I like Pink Floyd generally, but IMHO, both Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall are pure genius. Hell, I rarely listen to lyrics at all when I listen to albums. For me, it’s all about the music-making.

Every kid in England at the time loved ‘We don’t need no Education’ even if they were far too cool to like Pink Floyd.
And the album as a whole resonates with the angst of the cold war period, and imminent atomic death that I susspect everyone expected in those days.

Well, The Wall was released in 1982, and President Reagan was certainly alarmist with his “evil empire” attributions, but the fears of an atomic attack was nowhere near the levels that it was during the last 1950s and 1960s.

I’m not saying you’re completely wrong. I’m just saying that I don’t think that particular theme was a major reason for the album’s popularity. And… I can’t speak for the English view of the Cold War in the early 1980s of course.

There’s so much good music on it and it’s all so different. It’s not one of those albums where every song sounds exactly the same. Think of, say, Goodbye Blue Sky, Another Brick in the Wall Part II, Comfortably Numb, and Run Like Hell.

Since I bought Is There Anybody Out There? (The live one) when it came out…well, it’s like listening to The Wall for the first time.

'sides, just about every teenager has to go through a Floyd phase.

Because it had a childrens’ choir in it, of course.

Everybody loves childrens’ choirs.

It sure beat the hell out of listening to Journey.

The movie came out in 1982, but the album (I’m dating myself) came out in 1979.

Well, that certainly sets the bar low enough. :smiley:

About where the kids sing “We don’t need no…etc.,” I notice that the kids are singing with a very non-BBC, non-received standard English pronunciation. To this American, they sound like they could be Cockneys, or maybe from Northern England.

Was the line an intentional jab at schools that try to impose standard pronunciation on those who speak different dialects? I know that’s a big issue over there even now; I even remember hearing that somebody wanted to redo the Wallace and Gromit videos changing the Yorkshire (?) pronunciation to standard BBC style.

Sam Stone nailed it early on, so little need to explain further.

Having said that, one thing does come to mind: Have you listened to the record? Obviously you have and you already state that you like it; my point is - it is really good, as you have already indicated. Maybe that is enough sometimes.

I think your question gets more to the “wow, the subject matter is really heavy and morose - I am surprised that a record with that much heaviness did so well.” To that extent, I guess I am not surprised. Just check out the threads that have been on the SDMB about popular songs with creepy topics. One trick to writing hit songs is to combine heavy, downer lyrics with catchy upbeat melodies - the contrast provides richness and depth if done well - see “Help” and “I’m a Loser” by the Beatles as data points. Then also see Mr. Pretentiousness himself, Der Stinglehoffer, with his crap like “King of Pain.” Some of his Police material does really well, like “Can’t Stand Losing You” “Walking on the Moon” and “Message in a Bottle,” but the bulk of his material represents someone working to a formula without embracing its spirit…

so - that’s why: the difficult subject matter is wrapped in brilliant music.