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Thread started 12/03/17 2:08pm

alphastreet

Let's discuss the art of visual albums

Visual albums are nothing new, but how they are now marketed seems to be the new thing. Do you feel this is good from marketing standpoint or is it redundant to the point where it's not a big deal anymore ?
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Reply #1 posted 12/04/17 11:10am

TrivialPursuit

It's become more popular in the past decade. I think Beyonce did it with B-Day or some earlier album. The BEYONCÉ album truly set a new standard in the art of the visual experience of an album. Ya can't say Bey doesn't work hard on her projects. Lemonade, to me, took it to a new level again.

I remember Electric Light Orchestra doing one for Discovery (which is on DVD). The thing is, back then videos weren't as "video"centric as they are now. Artists would often record performance videos if they could not make it overseas (either to the US from the UK, or vice versa), and they could at least send over a pre-recorded performance for television shows and other media. But not every artist did a video for every single song on their album. ELO was one of the earlier ones to do that back then. (Trivia: actor Brad Garrett is the young Aladdin looking guy on the back of the record.)

Of course, Prince sort of dipped into it with The Diamonds and Pearls Video Collection and 3 Chains O' Gold. MJ sorta went there with Moonwalker. Then there is this gap for a decade or more where no one did anything like that. But, artists did put together making-of/interview sort of compilations. Janet did one for janet., plus a mini-movie for Rhythm Nation. En Vogue had one, too.

Today, in an age where videos are a dime a dozen and not special anymore, or are events, the idea of a visual album is still pretty unique. Sure artists put their videos on YouTube or whatever, but now there are lyric videos, or audio only videos. I think those things have cheapened the art of the music video. Visual albums brings it back up a few notches to something special. In a day and age where everyone seems to have ADHD and an attention span of a goldfish, a visual album could at least keep the listener more focused on something while listening to the album. It's also a good selling point for the hardcore fanbase when an album includes the DVD in a deluxe edition.

I enjoy the visual album concept. The visuals with Beyonce's recent two albums, I believe, have set a high standard for the medium. I mean, when grown men are putting on a yellow dress and spoofing a video - they're doing something right. I definitely don't think it's redundant in general because not that many people are doing it. I wish more did sometimes.

"Despite everything, no 1 can dictate who u r 2 other people." - Prince |
http://bit.ly/unboxingprince
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Reply #2 posted 12/05/17 3:32pm

namepeace

The scope of the definition "visual album" seems quite broad. The Wall, Thriller, Purple Rain, Sign O' The Times, Rhythm Nation, and so many albums of past decades could qualify to the extent they had an accompanying film or series of videos (let's say 4 or more).

Aren't they really "concept albums"?

I don't know, just posing this question(s) for discussion.

Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
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Reply #3 posted 12/05/17 5:05pm

TrivialPursuit

namepeace said:

The scope of the definition "visual album" seems quite broad. The Wall, Thriller, Purple Rain, Sign O' The Times, Rhythm Nation, and so many albums of past decades could qualify to the extent they had an accompanying film or series of videos (let's say 4 or more).

Aren't they really "concept albums"?

I don't know, just posing this question(s) for discussion.


I'd disagree about Thriller. It had three videos. One was long, but "Pretty Young Thing", "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "Human Nature", "The Girl Is Mine" had no video. (The last one being even more ridiculous since "Say Say Say" had a video from Paul's side, why not film "The Girl Is Mine" was part of that - each one of them releasing their respective video as a sister to the other?)

In fact, "Billie Jean" had two videos, which barely counts as four or more. SOTT definitely needed more videos. I wish Thriller had more. It certainly seems like a huge missed opportunity. Its sales were quick to be recognized and Epic dropped the ball with not asking for videos beyond those three.

The Wall is a good example, but it was a movie. BEYONCÉ was conceptual with feels and themes and looks for each song, some of them blending into the other; I don't think the album was conceptual, but the videos were. I think she honed it in more with LEMONADE on all sides.

For me, visual album is literally a video for each track on the album, so you can listen to the whole record and see visuals at the same time. I think it'd be great for a party setting, or similar.

Janet took a very different approach with RN1814. It was twice as long as Thriller and had 3 or 4x as many songs. Both are similar in their approach to using music for storytelling.

"Despite everything, no 1 can dictate who u r 2 other people." - Prince |
http://bit.ly/unboxingprince
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Reply #4 posted 12/05/17 5:51pm

MickyDolenz

namepeace said:

The scope of the definition "visual album" seems quite broad. The Wall, Thriller, Purple Rain, Sign O' The Times, Rhythm Nation, and so many albums of past decades could qualify to the extent they had an accompanying film or series of videos (let's say 4 or more)

What about Mike Nesmith's Elephant Parts? It won a Grammy. If you're gonna count Purple Rain & The Wall. Then there's A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, Tommy, Space Is The Place, etc. Just about every song on Genesis' Invisible Touch album had a music video, except 2.

It's called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business, you’re in trouble! ~ Johnnie Taylor
Each generation has their music that they fall in love with, that makes it special to them ~ Ralph Tresvant
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Reply #5 posted 12/05/17 10:11pm

namepeace

MickyDolenz said:

namepeace said:

The scope of the definition "visual album" seems quite broad. The Wall, Thriller, Purple Rain, Sign O' The Times, Rhythm Nation, and so many albums of past decades could qualify to the extent they had an accompanying film or series of videos (let's say 4 or more)

What about Mike Nesmith's Elephant Parts? It won a Grammy. If you're gonna count Purple Rain & The Wall. Then there's A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, Tommy, Space Is The Place, etc. Just about every song on Genesis' Invisible Touch album had a music video, except 2.


Go for it!

Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
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Reply #6 posted 12/10/17 2:17pm

alphastreet

Great responses

Trivial pursuit I love your responses!!! it's so true about the attention span and how u articulated that hehe I didn't realize en vogue did that too, was it connected to the masterpiece theatre album or something? I like the concept of it though also think it was just a hook to generate sales and relevancy.

Usher also did it again, moonwalker touched it

I think in this day and age though, beyonce may have been the first of contemporary mainstream caliber to do an album/video, I have a feeling this was commonplace in the k pop world, and it was common in bollywood for over half a century with music videos in the films if we look outside western pop culture lens. I also agree b'day felt like her first visual album, that was my favourite beyonce era, later realized solange wrote a lot of tracks (whom I prefer these days of the two) on there though already knew there were tons of old school references musically in it. If she wrote a small handful according to credits, I wouldn't be surprised if she ghost wrote more tracks on B'day. This is common in industry than most think. Contractually one can agree to 3 songs but it doesn't mean there is no input on other works heard that is worthy of a credit, especially if a newcomer, kind of like what kanye west spoke about, and kesha one time.

And looking back, I also feel prince was ahead of his time with the minimalistic approach to videos and lyric videos from SOTT onwards in that time period. This is commonplace now in a shifting industry....and I'm beginning to think maybe not putting his videos on youtube till his death happened in a sense immortalized him to the general public.


[Edited 12/10/17 14:21pm]

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Reply #7 posted 12/10/17 3:19pm

TrivialPursuit

alphastreet said:

Great responses

Trivial pursuit I love your responses!!! it's so true about the attention span and how u articulated that hehe I didn't realize en vogue did that too, was it connected to the masterpiece theatre album or something? I like the concept of it though also think it was just a hook to generate sales and relevancy.

Usher also did it again, moonwalker touched it

I think in this day and age though, beyonce may have been the first of contemporary mainstream caliber to do an album/video, I have a feeling this was commonplace in the k pop world, and it was common in bollywood for over half a century with music videos in the films if we look outside western pop culture lens. I also agree b'day felt like her first visual album, that was my favourite beyonce era, later realized solange wrote a lot of tracks (whom I prefer these days of the two) on there though already knew there were tons of old school references musically in it. If she wrote a small handful according to credits, I wouldn't be surprised if she ghost wrote more tracks on B'day. This is common in industry than most think. Contractually one can agree to 3 songs but it doesn't mean there is no input on other works heard that is worthy of a credit, especially if a newcomer, kind of like what kanye west spoke about, and kesha one time.

And looking back, I also feel prince was ahead of his time with the minimalistic approach to videos and lyric videos from SOTT onwards in that time period. This is commonplace now in a shifting industry....and I'm beginning to think maybe not putting his videos on youtube till his death happened in a sense immortalized him to the general public.


ELO definitely did an entire album for Discovery when it came out. Jeff Lynne said that Epic Records thought he was crazy for doing (what we know as a visual album) a whole set of videos. This was 1979, so the idea of a music video was still relatively new. Most were the aforementioned performance videos for promotional purposes overseas or whatever. I would think The Wall is sort of a visual album as well. It's really on the level that Beyonce did for those two albums. Storytelling, incredible visuals, a titular character, etc. But with the lack of common home media (VCRs, etc), I'm not sure where any of these would have been seen on a regular basis. Perhaps HBO, or some special at 1am.

As far as ghostwriters for Beyonce, it's well known she doesn't have a full hand in every single song. Remember that time she tried to take credit for "Irreplaceable" and Ne-Yo clapped back in the press and reminded her and everyone who wrote that song? Her name is last in the credits on it, dictating she had the least input. She probably replaced a few lyrics and claimed credit. Look at the number of people it took to write a repetitive boring song like "Run The World (Girls)" (Beyoncé Knowles, Terius "The-Dream" Nash, Wesley Pentz, David Taylor, Adidja Palmer, Nick van de Wall)

vs. a complex 5-section song like "Bohemian Rhapsody" (one person - Freddy Mercury). Same goes for Black Eyed Peas.

To me, Prince was lazy with SOTT, the tour and the title track video. The lyric thing seemed half-assed and had a lack of caring about it. It's more evident that he had moved on so much from SOTT (despite working so hard on putting it all together), not touring in the U.S. and recording TBA & Lovesexy so quickly. It only sets a standard for other artists if they saw it at all. It's a throwaway video, to me. I think SOTT was mishandled overall, yet he went balls deep into Lovesexy and his quasi-spirituality taking that into Graffiti Bridge as well.

En Vogue's was around the Funky Divas time.

"Despite everything, no 1 can dictate who u r 2 other people." - Prince |
http://bit.ly/unboxingprince
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Reply #8 posted 12/10/17 4:00pm

alphastreet

I definitely thought of the ne yo thing, pretty ironic how he was never heard from again mainstream wise after he outed the queen bee. Conicidence? Who truly knows.

I don't know if for prince it was laziness or carving his path away from the trinity of the big 3 from the 80's. Think mj or madonna could have gotten away with the minimalistic style video at that point in time? It would be forgettable! I would even argue it started as soon as Around the World in a Day hit, he wasn't about that big smash comeback and just sort of farted out another brilliant album (purple rain's superior) if you ask me lol

In that sense, maybe he took the pressure off himself to stay on top and just followed his vision. And if he didn't give a damn about the big production video and did what he wanted without thinking too hard about it, good on him! I would even say his arrogance served him well later in life even if he had struggles. He could still ride a bike around town in his last days....think the other two could do that without risking their safety?

It's definitely mindblowing how 1-2 people can produce such brilliance. I also think the fact songs have so many writers may also be reflective of the keep going attitude in society these days and things moving fast, and technology taking away from the time others of freddie or pink floyd caliber had to let the brilliance kick in. Solange though is truly artistic. She doesn't have a billion other things to promote outside her music the way beyonce does, neither did those older acts

[Edited 12/10/17 16:03pm]

[Edited 12/10/17 16:04pm]

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Reply #9 posted 12/10/17 4:55pm

alphastreet

I almost forgot, kanye west did something too and lady gaga, right before beyonce!

I wonder if kanye felt taken aback by that

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Forums > Music: Non-Prince > Let's discuss the art of visual albums