The Great Debate: Album Versus Single

In the age of musical artists pumping out single after single, it is easy to forget about the concept of a musical album. Creating singles has become a very popular and profitable venture for many artists. However, many music lovers argue that listening to an album all the way through in one sitting creates a much more enriching experience than one would get by only listening to a single or just a collection of songs off various albums.

California Lutheran University junior Michael Bassette is strongly opinionated on the matter. He said there are multiple advantages to listening to an entire album versus a single song.

“There is a lot more content to explore and a lot more vision behind a sustained work,” Bassette said.

Bassette also said listening to an entire album more than once can create an even better experience for the listener.

“Once you familiarize yourself with an album, it becomes part of your musical lexicon, so to say, and you are happy that it is and that you always can go back and enjoy it”, Bassette said.“It’s a comfortable experience and it becomes a part of you in that way.”

Although Bassette understands the use for pop singles, he said he is not a fan of the idea.

“It’s a lot more rewarding to work with albums than songs,” Bassette said. “It saddens me that nowadays you will hear a really good song on the radio and then down the line never hear it again. It’s designed to be chewed up and spit out in a way.”

Bassette said he believes a great album can be a masterful work of art.

“Masterpieces have replay value. It’s the stuff that has been around since often the mid-20th century and still enthralls listeners to this day. That’s the good stuff, that’s the stuff that has endured the test of time and has inspired countless people.”

Not only can listening to the entire album be a more enriching musical experience, but often a story will be told throughout an album. For example, “Tommy” by The Who, or “The Wall” by Pink Floyd stories. In addition to albums that tell stories, many albums will have a reccurring theme in all of its songs. These albums are known as concept albums.

“There are all sorts of story albums, although most of them are centered around a theme, rather than a central character,” Bassette said.

Bassette cited the album “OK, Computer” by Radiohead, which is about identity crisis in the age of technology.

“A lot of music is a lot more themed than character-centered,” Bassette said.

Christophe Bassett, junior at Cal Lutheran, also has an opinion on the matter.

Bassett is a musician who has experience playing in several bands, and he said he believes there are many advantages to an album.

“In an album experience you can have a lot more variety,” Bassett said.

Bassett cited the album “Disco Volante” by the artist Mr. Bungle, where every track is a different genre.

Bassett also said when one listens to a single song, one will often not get a full sense of what the band is about. He mentioned the song “Aqua Lung” by Jethro Tull which was extremely popular on the radio. However, it did not feature any flute, which Jethro Tull is known for.

Rapper Jamin Watson, a senior at Cal Lutheran, believes albums offer the superior music experience but does believe singles have their place.

“It depends on the artist and genre,” Watson said.

Watson cited LMFAO songs as being OK to listen to as singles because the group’s songs are mainly used for party playlists.

Although today singles are very popular, many music lovers would encourage people to take the time and listen to a good album in one sitting and try to pick up on the theme or story of the album.

Cody McElligott
Staff Writer
Published March 4th, 2015