The Meaning of an Album


Music Reflection Close-up Plastic Round Album

Little Stitious, Journalist

The appreciation and craftsmanship of albums as opposed to the production of specific songs alone is an art that has been nearly forgotten. The immediate availability of music in the digital age is not a bad thing but it has contributed to a culture that takes music for granted.

Parents and grandparents will likely remember the joy of buying a new vinyl LP record and listening to it through and through, from side A to side B, experiencing the album as a whole and developing favorite parts for themselves because buying the entire record was nearly the only way to listen to recorded music besides the radio.

In today’s world, most people don’t listen to an album all the way through anymore because there doesn’t seem to be a need to buy the whole thing when they have only heard and liked one song. The experience of both making and listening to music has been lost to something.

Making a record is like making a movie and every song is a scene or portion of the whole picture. Track 1 as Scene 1, Track 2 as Scene 2. The full experience that the artist intended for the individual or audience is incomplete without every scene. This is the idea that much of today’s music has lost. Even the placement of songs within the album is very important to artists who value albums as an art. Perhaps the artist wrote a song with the very intention of it being the closing track, the opening track, or some specific place in the middle. Producing a record is, or should be, a precise and delicate work, full of thought and intention.

Most big names in today’s music are only aiming at making an album containing hits. Or maybe they’re only writing (or getting others to write) a group of completely unrelated songs, putting them all behind an eye-catching album cover and calling it a record. Listening to this album is like watching a movie made of scenes from multiple different movies—the scenes may or may not be great ones, but they are disconnected and less meaningful than if they were supported by an entire body.

A masterful album is one that tells a story, shares a message, or has a collective purpose or motivation. An album of songs written and recorded with no forethought of the album’s purpose as a whole isn’t really an album at all, only a jumbled mess of disconnected songs.

The album The Dark Side of the Moon, released in 1974 by Pink Floyd, is considered one of the greatest albums of all time. It is made up of 10 tracks that mold together almost as if they are one 45-minute song. The album showcases beginnings of songs playing off of the ending of the one before, a familiar feeling or foundation throughout. Pink Floyd did this without becoming annoyingly repetitive, unoriginal, or  less meaningful. The album is a collection of beautiful and intertwining pieces put together into one portrait of art. In many ways, the work of classical artists such as Mozart and Beethoven created the idea we know as the album. Their separate pieces often connected with the intention of playing together, before, or after.

Did you ever listen to or hear anything off of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special other than “Uptown Funk”? The majority of the world hasn’t, no matter if Uptown Special is a masterful album or not, because recognizing and making albums that are masterful as well as meaningful is being forgotten. That is not to say that it is forgotten. Many bands, popular and non, are preserving the art of album making today. Bastille’s recently released record, Wild World, is an example of a modern album with different songs that were made and put together with the purpose of one whole and meaningful experience; an album.

Music is one of the most influential and powerful forms of artwork and should be dealt with delicately, with the purpose of creating something meaningful. When an artist becomes too focused on popularity and/or money, at that moment they stop being an artist and their work stops being art. Carefully putting together an album is an art—one to be recognized, embraced, and preserved by listeners as well as creators.

  • Waters, Roger. The Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd. Capitol Records, 2011 (Remastered). Vinyl recording.
  • Wonder, Stevie, Bruno Mars, and Andrew Wyatt. Uptown Special. Mark Ronson. 2015. MP3.
  • Smith, Daniel. Wild World. Bastille. Virgin Records, 2016. MP3.