Singles And Albums Are Both Dead
It’s not that there are no great albums any more, there are plenty, and it’s not that there are no great albums that function as great albums, as singular visions, but it is that the world of great albums doesn’t really exist. It hasn’t existed really since vinyl died, 30 minutes was just too perfect a period of time for a unified pop vision and when CDs came about, the 74 minutes, the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, musicians wanted to fill it up and guess what happened? They diluted the albums by releasing stuff that didn’t need to be released.
That started the elastic concept of the album and while there would be (and are) many more great albums to come, still, there was a whole lotta lousy albums as well.
In 2018, the idea of the album, like the idea of the single, has dissolved into the concept of the song. The song, one song, 30 songs, all at once, drawn out over weeks and months, is more powerful than any other format. When all of Drake’s songs off Scorpio hit the Hot 100, does single mean anything at all? When Kanye West releases seven albums, does the word album mean anything? How is it an album? How isn’t it?
The game is streaming but streaming needs parameters to tell the winners from the losers and the parameters are how many people are listening to your song, and if you are big enough you can get a lot of streams by releasing a lot of songs, but it doesn’t add up to a vision as such.
And that means the single is dead. And the album is dead. And only songs exist.