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View Full Version : The Choice Is Yours: Singles or albums?


taosterman
07-02-2013, 10:32 AM
The way people have been listening to music has been splintering like crazy since the introduction of digital downloads, so I'm curious as to Tyrants' listening preferences. Do you prefer listening to full albums or are you more prone to putting random songs on shuffle?

I'm personally voting albums— I love the big ideas that they allow, I love the insight that lesser filler songs give to musicians as fallible human beings, and they just kind of feel like the "books" of music in a way that singles don't.

This isn't meant to be combative, by the way, I'm interested to hear people's own rationales.

Sarcasmorator
07-02-2013, 10:36 AM
I almost always buy albums (often on CD because I am a dinosaur!), listen to them once or twice in order, then put them on my iPod and hit "random" forevermore. Very rarely I'll buy a single song, usually one that's only available that way (like a couple of Interpol's songs). My favorite song on any given album is about 90 percent likely to NOT be the popular single.

Good on you for using lines from "Weapon of Choice" for your poll, taosterman.

taosterman
07-02-2013, 10:37 AM
It's specifically a song by Black Sheep (from an album everyone should hear), but I'm down with the Weapon of Choice as well.

Falselogic
07-02-2013, 10:39 AM
I'd be more interested if artist's released more albums as opposed to collections of singles held together by fluff...

Sarcasmorator
07-02-2013, 10:41 AM
It's specifically a song by Black Sheep (from an album everyone should hear), but I'm down with the Weapon of Choice as well.

Ah, of course. Sampled. Should have known.

Umby
07-02-2013, 11:58 AM
I mean I know I'll come away as a huge hipster-nerd-whatever but...

I can't stand singles. I have a long attention span for music and I want something that takes me on a sonic journey. Never mind that singles usually are shallow pop songs, to really make me like an artist I like to have a whole album that is just interesting.

It's also much easier listening to me to just put on an album and just listen, no hassle.

Falselogic
07-02-2013, 12:02 PM
It's also much easier listening to me to just put on an album and just listen, no hassle.

Cause hitting 'random,' and 'play' on your ipod/PC is SUCH a hassle!

Umby
07-02-2013, 12:25 PM
But what if I want to skip a song? When I get into an album I know exactly what I'm getting into.

Sarcasmorator
07-02-2013, 12:27 PM
Yeah, we have a mixed iPod selection, and when I'm driving by myself I skip songs all the time. Usually Jonny Lang or solo Mark Lanegan or something else my wife likes byt I'm not a fan of, but often also songs I put on there, because I just don't want to hear them right now.

Büge
07-02-2013, 01:01 PM
Personally, I prefer singles over albums, with the exception of concept albums. Those have a far more cohesive theme and/or story, and individual songs are sometimes stronger when listened to as part of a whole.

BEAT
07-02-2013, 01:17 PM
Albums.

I don't even want your one song. Man get that one song out of here.

You better give me at LEAST 3 so I can think of it as an EP.
Cause hitting 'random,' and 'play' on your ipod/PC is SUCH a hassle!This thing you have said is stupid because "Putting an album on" implies that he wants to listen to an album, not a bunch of random songs.

Behemoth
07-02-2013, 02:18 PM
I mean I know I'll come away as a huge hipster-nerd-whatever but...

I can't stand singles. I have a long attention span for music and I want something that takes me on a sonic journey. Never mind that singles usually are shallow pop songs, to really make me like an artist I like to have a whole album that is just interesting.


This sums up my feelings word for word.

mr_bungle700
07-02-2013, 03:13 PM
Albums! If I'm going to give my attention to an artist then I want to experience what they're truly capable of, and the kind of musicians that I like are people who can't be defined by one or two singles anyway.

Furthermore, if someone can't be bothered to create an album's worth of good songs then I can't be bothered to care about their work. Even if someone has one or two pretty good singles I'll lose all interest in them if the rest of their songs are mediocre. There are plenty of other artists out there making whole albums full of songs that I actually want to listen to.

The funny thing about this is that I love music videos and I love watching individual arias from operas, so you'd think I'd be more open to a single-based approach listening to music, but nope. Though I have grown fond of occasionally listening to my collection on shuffle, just for fun.

ghosttaster
07-02-2013, 03:31 PM
I don't necessarily dig 'singles,' but over the years I've become less interested in "album-oriented" material. Barring material from more singles-oriented eras, I don't really listen to any of the modern 'popular' music with which singles are mostly associated, but I'm definitely interested in the qualities often attributed to a strong single. Concision, hooks, and strong structural mechanics have really come to the forefront of my interest in music during the last few years, and I can't really dig on too many lengthy tracks the way I had in years past. While I respect the ambition of the 'album' as an idea, I'd still rather listen to a band with a few great tracks than a record full of okay ones.

I feel like a lot of lengthy songs don't stand up to close scrutiny, and often try to cram too many ideas into one composition, iterate too few ideas over too long a period, or can't maintain flow over time. Most bands essentially rely on some gimmick or handful of formulas to define their 'sound,' and I'm always bummed to lost interest in an act because they overstayed their welcome or tried to make too much of their own ideas.

ajr82
07-02-2013, 03:53 PM
I like albums because I enjoy seeing an artist's range and how the different songs affect my appreciation of each other, but I really don't have the patience or interest in album-length conceptual bullshit anymore.

Falselogic
07-02-2013, 03:55 PM
I only listen to the 40 songs that Casey Kasem and now Ryan Seacrest tell me to listen to and buy.

Are any of those songs on a single album?

NO!

Case closed.

BEAT
07-02-2013, 04:09 PM
I only listen to the 40 songs that Casey Kasem and now Ryan Seacrest tell me to listen to and buy.

Are any of those songs on a single album?

NO!

Case closed.
Are you like, trying to make fun of people who like pop or...

I'm getting mixed messages here.

Sanagi
07-03-2013, 12:23 AM
It's kind of a false dichotomy but I'll go with albums. It's just that more artists should respect the worthiness of a totally listenable forty-minute album.

Shagohod
07-03-2013, 07:44 AM
I only listen to the 40 songs that Casey Kasem and now Ryan Seacrest tell me to listen to and buy.

Are any of those songs on a single album?


They are on several single albums. Worldwide! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Now_That's_What_I_Call_Music!_discography)

taosterman
07-03-2013, 10:26 AM
It's kind of a false dichotomy but I'll go with albums.

I'm mostly just curious about people's listening habits. Probably should have included "Both" as an option.

Eden
07-04-2013, 01:58 AM
Singles, for two reasons.

(1) They work better with my emotional ebbs and flows. I'm not all that stable; I tend to experience my emotions in relatively quick and intense bursts rather than staying in the same emotional frame of mind over long periods. I thus tend to prefer it when musicians can take me on an intense trip of a few minutes' duration rather than spending an hour slowly building up their emotional ideas. There's nothing wrong with the latter format, by any means -- that some 90% of the respondents prefer the latter format says it all -- but it doesn't fit with me.

(2) Quality control. I've found that otherwise-mediocre bands can produce a few genuinely good singles. If a band is sufficiently good, I'll acquire the whole album, but for those that aren't, I can stick to the "highlights," so to speak.

Sir Sly Ry
07-04-2013, 06:27 PM
Albums.
Word.
Albums!
Albums 4 lyfe, bro.
I like albums
You have chosen wisely.
Singles
He chose poorly.

KCar
07-04-2013, 07:45 PM
I'm an album listener, but I've come to realize that so much of this is based on genre and culture. White Guy music (prog, indie, metal, rock) tends to be very album based. But go back to classic Motown; those are singles, and nothing but singles my friend. With the exceptions of a few luminaries (Al Green, Bill Withers), the greatest songs are sometimes one-offs on so-so albums. Classic Soul was made for radio play.

Sir Sly Ry
07-04-2013, 08:55 PM
Ah, I love me some Bill Withers. I listen to the first two albums.

JDS
07-04-2013, 09:55 PM
albums with the caveat that they're a fifty-year-old marketing concession and even most great artists aren't very good at them

Dizzy
07-05-2013, 08:18 AM
I want albums because then I get more songs. If I get singles, I only get one so—pfft, what am I saying? I download whatever songs I want, I don't buy albums or singles.

Wolfgang
07-05-2013, 09:23 AM
Listening to an entire album only works if the composer intended it to be listened to as an entire work, and all the songs are of equal quality. That second part can't be stressed enough. The ala carte setup that every digital music store has now is so much better than the dying/dead album marketing scheme.

Being able to not have to pay for the shitty songs on pre-digital-sales albums is also an excellent advantage of the MP3 age. It also helps that most of the new stuff I listen to is electronic music designed to be bought as single songs, digitally.

Adrenaline
07-05-2013, 11:30 AM
If a modern artist can't put together 10-12 decent songs over the course of a few years, they're probably not worh listening to.

Wolfgang
07-05-2013, 11:54 AM
Yes, but why should a decent artist be expected to wait several years to package them all together? Actually the question is moot because no artist IS expected to any longer. The "album/single" dispute is moot because we've essentially moved away from the album as a sales model.

The dispute is moot! A moot dispute.

Adrenaline
07-05-2013, 12:01 PM
Releasing singles is fine. Releasing an album with 2 singles and 8 unlistenable tracks is worthless.

taosterman
07-05-2013, 12:02 PM
The album is still the standard form of distribution, but I agree that there's a very gradual shift going on away from them.

To me, filler/shitty songs are an indisposable part of listening to music, at least when it's not just an awful album or part of a wider pattern of mediocrity. The Police never released a consistent album, but if I were to pare them down to the "good" tracks and toss out all the kooky, failed experiments, it would remove a lot of what makes them special to me.

Anyway, it varies from band to band, but that's the way I approach music listening.

Falselogic
07-05-2013, 12:02 PM
Releasing singles is fine. Releasing an album with 2 singles and 8 unlistenable tracks is worthless.

and standard industry practice!

JDS
07-05-2013, 05:41 PM
Listening to an entire album only works if the composer intended it to be listened to as an entire work.

This first part isn't really true, though. The Birthday Party's Hee-Haw and Mutiny/The Bad Seed are mishmashes of EPs and singles that have been so widely accepted as whole albums entire portions of their fanbase are unaware that they were released as anything but.

Don't like the Birthday Party? Ok, check all the great pop albums that were released before Sgt. Pepper became a thing and still hold up. I'd probably give Sinatra's concept album September of My Years a slight edge over everything that came before it but he, July Garland, and Nina Simone could knock out a bunch of standards over the weekend, mix it with whatever their strong A-Side at the moment was and come up with pure gold.