Tuesday, June 07, 2005

death of the album?

I was listening to the new Coldplay Album on itunes in the office today, and I found out that I inadvertently listened to the songs in the wrong order. This is not a huge event in my life, by any means, but it did bring to mind some of the thoughts I’ve been having about the form of an album. I am a big fan of listening to an entire album, in the order the artist put the songs. I figure that thought went into what songs got on and the order they are in. Also, one song from a particular artist is not usually enough for me – I want to spend some time with an artist, even if they’re just in the background. This is why I don’t listen to a lot of mixes, and why I don’t do shuffle and why I feel guilty about wanting an ipod.

I wonder if the popularity of ipod (especially ipod shuffle) and the ability to buy one song at a time, soon the idea of an album as a whole work will go out the window, and the concept album (one of my favorite ideas) will also be a thing of the past. I think this would be sad. I like the way songs work together in an arc. I like the way it lasts about an hour. I like noticing particular structural details. There are other things I like about buying cds too. I like the trip to the store and holding the thing in your hands, and looking at the art and reading the liner notes. I love liner notes. I sure hope with the coolness and convenience of itunes, we don’t loose the things that are cool about whole albums.

Maybe I’m just a sentimental nerd (well, surely I am, but maybe this idea is particularly over the top). I am aware that a good mix cd (or playlist) is an art, and there are some mix cds I love dearly and DO listen to. So probably the shuffle music culture and the album music culture can coexist in, uh, harmony. But that’s just something I’ve been thinking about.


Morgan said...

I agree. Though I do wonder about the death of the CD (which I hope never comes), I wonder if concept albums are any less prevelant today than they were years ago.

When I think of concept albums (and I confess these may not be very quintissential concept albums), I think in particular of Dave Matthews "Before these Crowded Streets" of David Crowder's "Illuminate." However, for those of us in the ipod culture (ahem, ahem), the tracks from those two albums in particular point out that they are from a concept album by the fact that they are all six and half minutes long and the second half of the song is totally different than the first. So I'm forced to click fast forward on my ipod for those tunes. However, are those albums any less prevelant than they used to be?

Oh, I just thought of another good concept album, the "love" album by Steven Curtis Chapman. (barf!)

Bob K said...

I think you're right about the co-existance of the two cultures. I see the ease of making mix CDs an added piece rather than a replacement. I prefer to listen to albums when I'm really listening and my random itunes mix when I'm working. That way I get to hear all cool stuff and I don't have to think about what I want to listen to.

I didn't realize that Illuminate was a concept album - time to get that one out again!