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Listening to Music in Full Albums: A Dying Experience

In the olden days, you couldn’t listen to music the way we do now. You couldn’t skip from song to song or artist to artist with ease. 8-track players and record players made listening to music a very full experience where you couldn’t jump around the way we do today. With instant gratification being such a huge part of our society, the idea of listening to music in full albums has flown out the window. However, it can be very beneficial and healing to leave the world of instant gratification and indecision for an hour or so by listening to music in full albums. This may be the reason vinyl is making a return to the mainstream. Listening to music this way has so many benefits, and may just change the way you observe and experience some of your favorite genres, artists, and songs. 

So much work goes into making the albums we listen to. Although we don’t always realize it, artists put a lot of effort into every step of these creations. What we love about artists is the fact that they can expose their true selves to us for our benefit, and listening to full albums can help us create a deeper connection with our favorite artists. It takes a lot of vulnerability and skill to write many of the lyrics we hear today, and this process deserves great respect. Another wonderful experience one can have by listening to albums in full is the flow of the album as a whole. In many of the greatest albums ever created, a lot of the songs flow seamlessly into one another, producing an experience that is lost by listening to single songs of the album. One of the most important aspects of album creation that deserves our respect is album artwork. This is something you don’t get with most playlists because they either have their own cover or we skip from song to song and don’t take time to appreciate the album covers. Album covers show a lot about the artist, the overall feel of the album, and can help us to interpret what the artist was trying to do with their piece of art. From the writing process and lyrics, to the flow of the songs, to the album artwork, we can obtain a whole new respect for these aspects of music creation by listening to full albums. 

By listening to full albums we can also discover new things about the artist, their songs, and our own interpretations. You may find some deep cuts, your new favorite songs, or something you never realized about the artist. There is so much to be gained from listening to complete albums. Also, observing the album artwork can change the way you interpret the album entirely. It can tell you if it is an upbeat album, a sad album, or an introspective album, and it really gives you an inside look for what to expect from the artist. 

Listening to albums rather than songs can also give you a broader sense of the artist’s intention. They may have spent hours planning the track order, stressing over the overall sound and flow of the album, and trying to convey an important message to their audience. You can also get a deeper connection and appreciation for the artist by listening to their album in the way they meant for it to be heard and the way they listen to it themselves. While there are no rules for listening to music, if you have an artist you enjoy, you should try listening to their albums completely. This will change your perspective and give you some insight into the artists’ lives and what matters most to them. 

I recently started listening to music in full albums, and I have a newfound respect for so many artists. Some just have this incredible talent where their entire album flows beautifully and is constructed so well that you are left feeling incomplete when you don’t listen to the album all the way through. All albums are a beautiful piece of art which deserve our full attention. Listening to music is like looking at a painting. You can certainly look at just a few parts of the painting and ignore others because they don’t immediately stick out to you, but it is only by looking at the painting as a whole that you fully understand the artist’s intention. Listening to a few songs from an album can be wonderful, but listening to full albums creates a dynamic experience that will stick with you forever and invoke great emotion. Also, odds are if you like one song from the album, you won’t hate the other songs on the tape. You should at least give them a try. 

Some albums I recommend listening to fully: 

  • Beyoncé – Lemonade 
  • Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
  • The Beatles – Abbey Road 
  • Frank Ocean – Channel Orange 
  • Tame Impala – Lonerism 
  • Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.a.a.d. city 
  • Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
  • Solange – A Seat at the Table
  • Kanye West – Graduation
  • Ariana Grande – Sweetener
  • and so so many others…

Albums are about going on a journey with someone with unique ideas and insight about the world and seeing through their perspective to further understand and appreciate your own life. The emotion and power that music has over us as a society is incredible. You can gain so much and connect with so many by listening to music, and this is only amplified by listening to full albums. It is not impossible to have these experiences with playlists and singular tracks, but it is certainly more difficult. You should give album listening a try; you may discover something great about yourself, your favorite artist, or the album’s intention, and that can make this beautiful craft just a little more incredible. 



Photo sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Mariah Iverson is a senior studying sociology at the University of Utah. She grew up in Apple Valley, California and moved to Utah to be closer to her family. She enjoys listening to music, reading, cooking, drawing, traveling, and helping others. She enjoys writing about her favorite TV shows, cooking, LGBTQ experiences, and advice, and in her free time she can be found laying on the ground outside taking in the world. Enjoy Mariah's articles and everything she has to offer!
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