Another Reason The Record Album Is Dying
I interviewed Marshall Crenshaw the other day and I raised the question as to why he was recording a series of EPs (one new song, one cover, one re-recording) as opposed to his forte: the rock and roll album. He explained that he had worked long and hard on 2009’s Jaggedland, it took him ages to write the songs and craft the sublime album and he released and it disappeared. As though all the hard work didn’t matter.
Marshall was wrong, Jaggedland still stands out but he raises a good point.
Why record albums in a world with a musical overload, with 100s, 1000s, of albums being released all the time and nobody with the time to really pay attention. They come and go instantaneously. Bowie or Kanye, Vampire Weekend or Laura Marling, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the album charts are so volatile it is a wonder they don’t explode.
Indeed, success is much more important on the singles charts where a song can hang out for months on end (look at “Mirrors”) and keep an album in the public eye. That’s why Bowie sunk and Justin didn’t, Bowie didn’t write a hit single. And while Bowie might not really care, well, he still didn’t do it.
Jaggedland is an excellent album but after the rock critics threw hossanahs, it got no airplay really (and where would it be played any way?) and no hit single and a couple of years of hard work work felt like wasted effort.
I hate to say it but Crenshaw is probably right, there is no financial point in releasing albums, and while the album is the final word on artistic achievements in the music world, so what?