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  -  What Makes an Album a Classic? (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2958982)

Dustin Harkins 11/21/12 11:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115643162)
P.S. - Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Don't punch an old lady over that last $200 flat screen.


Oops :/

suicidesaints 11/21/12 11:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115613322)
Everyone check the original kendrick thread for a great discussion about it too. Hip hop's fascination with albums being classics is detrimental to the genre. If someone can tell me why gkmc is a classic, ill listen

Don't listen to it if you don't want, but I bet you people will still be calling it a classic in 10 years... just my opinion

Holly HoX! 11/21/12 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115643192)
I think Perfect From Now On is more, but I can see arguments for both


You In Reverse is amazing as well

suicidesaints 11/21/12 11:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RabidNewz (Post 115613742)
Retrospectively, I think most people generally define a "classic" album as one which seems to be a musical snapshot of culture at the time. Which suggests some people might call some albums "classic" even if they lack staying power. Some might argue records by Def Lepard were the perfect embodiment of the 80s mainstream rock sound, but you could also argue their discography is dated and lacks staying power as a result of some of the pillars of the genre in that decade.

This.

edit: but not only does a classic album represent a "snapshot" of the culture at the time, it also introduces something new to the table... not sure how to describe this... innovative?

Adam Pfleider 11/21/12 12:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Holly HoX! (Post 115643632)
You In Reverse is amazing as well


Omg. Just gonna listen to built to spill all day :)

Pugh758 11/21/12 12:20 PM

I love the irony of a Pitchfork article calling people out for labeling albums instant-classics

Star Slight 11/21/12 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by suicidesaints (Post 115643542)
Don't listen to it if you don't want, but I bet you people will still be calling it a classic in 10 years... just my opinion


You people? Maybe people will, but less than a month after its out is a weird time to judge that

Star Slight 11/21/12 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pugh758 (Post 115644522)
I love the irony of a Pitchfork article calling people out for labeling albums instant-classics


The site has different writers

bobsheiskawy 11/21/12 12:28 PM


Born_For_This 11/21/12 12:37 PM

One that really sticks out is Kanye West's Late Registration. Absolute classic in my eyes.
As for the last few years, Bon Iver is the main one.

ChaseTx 11/21/12 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115637962)
Ahhh, I see what you mean now. I suppose that could be the case, but I prefer to think that the critics just saw a stronger start-to-finish record in MBDTF. In the Slant Magazine review for The College Dropout (which they gave 3.5 stars), the writer kicked off the review by saying, "Like every hip-hop album (even the great ones), Kanye West's The College Dropout is marred by too many guest artists, too many interludes, and just too many songs period. (I challenge every hip-hop artist working today to record just one album with 12 tracks or less—no skits, no guests, no filler.)" They gave Late Registration the same rating, but crowned MBDTF as the best album of 2010 and gave it a perfect 5-star rating. Pitchfork had similar reservations about Dropout, but gave Twisted Fantasy the rare 10.0 and also named it the album of the year. I agree that their misgivings were assuaged, but that's because Kanye largely dropped the gimmicks: he got rid of the skits (well, nearly), he trimmed down the number of tracks and kept many of the guest spots shared between a core group of confidantes. And as a whole, the record felt a lot less scattershot or overlong, even though it still stretched to almost 70 minutes. For me, that record flies by in what feels like half the time that it takes me to listen to the other two.

I think your second paragraph is a tough question to ask, since you obviously have a big, important personal connection to TCD. I don't think there's a weak track on MBDTF (which ones don't you like, btw?), but there are a few that I skip on both College Dropout and Late Registration. It could just be a matter of perspective, of our differing musical roots and differences in what we look for in a hip hop album, but I have, over the past two years, gotten the feeling that the appreciation for MBDTF remains very heartfelt and widespread.

In most cases, I agree that albums with over 16 tracks, several skits, and a lot of guest spots do suffer from the problems they're referring to. But, I think those first two Kanye albums are an exception. The skits are funny and revolve around a recurring theme or pattern. The guest spots are all good verses from good rappers, but Kanye is never overshadowed on the track. Because there are so many songs, it doesn't feel like he's crowded out by guests; and because of his control over the albums, they remain very much his, as opposed to feeling like an ensemble work (which are typically bad). And as to the length, every song on those two is solid, in my opinion.

Just going through MBDTF, I'm not a big fan of "So Appalled". I don't care much for the beat/feel of the song at all, and the last half of the track should have just been cut. The song would have been better with just Kanye and Jay-Z, and I could keep the Pusha verse as well, but after that, I'm done with the song. The rest of the tracks are good, I just feel the first two albums have more tracks that I get excited to hear. I'd say the length plays a big part in that.

Kixur413 11/21/12 12:50 PM

Cartel's Chroma has been played in it's entirety at least once a week since day one of release. I don't see that changing any time soon. So fantastic.

ChaseTx 11/21/12 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by incognitojones (Post 115640562)
I think the biggest issue you're not really getting is that by striving to release a "classic" album, some artists may compromise their sound to fit into the mold of previous classic albums. Not every hip-hop album needs to sound like Illmatic to be a classic, not every rock album has to sound like Sgt. Pepper's or whatever, not everyone should be trying to sound like Bon Iver just because he released a great record.

There may be some related aspects that take an album into the "classic" level that are common across many, but one I think is definitely necessary is crafting a unique style that is cohesive across an entire album. The issue comes from certain artists striving to repeat the style from a perceived greatness from one album, when they have higher potential going in a different stylistic direction. In this way, by copying the format and tone of a great "classic" album in order to release their own classic, they compromise their style to fit into a mold they don't necessarily match, while also releasing an album that is not as strong as it could have been if they just played towards their strong suits and released what they wanted to without having the pressure of needing a "classic" in their catalog.

Essentially, artists would be better off listening less to what albums fans name as instant classics, and more focusing on what they can do to make the best album in the sound they're going for.

Great post, I agree entirely. I do think artists can make a great album by replicating or expanding upon the style of the preceding album -- see Linkin Park's Meteora, Common's Finding Forever, even Late Registration -- and it can be another classic, if it continues to be influential and widely well-received.

When an artist tries to make a great album by copying stylistic decisions on another artist's album, it diminishes the greatness of their album and it's viability as a possible classic, because the sound is not unique to that artist. It does, however, reinforce the classic status of the album they're striving to recreate.

suicidesaints 11/21/12 01:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by suicidesaints (Post 115643542)
Don't listen to it if you don't want, but I bet you people will still be calling it a classic in 10 years... just my opinion


Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115644692)
You people? Maybe people will, but less than a month after its out is a weird time to judge that


I guess I should have used better punctuation. What I was trying to say is "I bet you, that people will be calling it a classic in 10 years" not "you people"

I understand why you think that calling something a classic when it's less than a month old is weird, but sometimes you have a gut reaction when you first hear something... I could be wrong, maybe it's not a classic... in fact I like Section 80 much more than GKMC, but I think they are both great albums, and I think GKMC will go down in hip hop history as a classic. Maybe it's too soon to call it that, but I'm just saying what I think based upon my first impression of the album... Do I think Kendrick is the GOAT? No, but I think he made one hell of a album(s)

The_Effort 11/21/12 01:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChaseTx (Post 115645902)
When an artist tries to make a great album by copying stylistic decisions on another artist's album, it diminishes the greatness of their album and it's viability as a possible classic, because the sound is not unique to that artist. It does, however, reinforce the classic status of the album they're striving to recreate.


I agree with this whole heartedly.

Dre Okorley 11/21/12 01:27 PM

A "classic" is what turns the genre completely on its head. Hip hop: Nas' Illmatic was (and is still) a classic. FIVE MICS.

No but seriously, it really changes what a genre means consciousness wise, production approaches, lyrical ideas, etc etc that everyone gravitates to experimenting with in a similar way or beyond it.

Dre Okorley 11/21/12 01:30 PM

Also, hats off to Adam for opening such a big discussion.

Jason Tate 11/21/12 01:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115642102)
Like how brand new tried to make a 90s alt rock record and failed completely


But they didn't ...

Jason Tate 11/21/12 01:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115641502)
Yeah, but what he's trying to say (and what the article basically said) is that a lot of artists strive for other people's greatness rather than their own and the result is a decrease in innovation.


But that is a straw man of my argument.

topher465 11/21/12 01:40 PM

An album is a classic when it connected with a cultural or social issue of a specific time, but was good enough to ascend to higher proportions and continue being enjoyable once said cultural or social issue passed with time.

Star Slight 11/21/12 01:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Tate (Post 115647312)
But they didn't ...

are you going to address my serious posts or just that one

3GunGaz 11/21/12 02:12 PM

I would say what makes an album a 'classic' is something that cannot be written down or explained. As such, there is no point trying!

incognitojones 11/21/12 02:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChaseTx (Post 115645902)
Great post, I agree entirely. I do think artists can make a great album by replicating or expanding upon the style of the preceding album -- see Linkin Park's Meteora, Common's Finding Forever, even Late Registration -- and it can be another classic, if it continues to be influential and widely well-received.

When an artist tries to make a great album by copying stylistic decisions on another artist's album, it diminishes the greatness of their album and it's viability as a possible classic, because the sound is not unique to that artist. It does, however, reinforce the classic status of the album they're striving to recreate.

That's true, a "classic" album does rest highly on influencing the entire genre, so the more people try to sound like it the more classic it becomes. But really every "classic" is going to have its own identity and a completely unique sound.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 3GunGaz (Post 115648262)
I would say what makes an album a 'classic' is something that cannot be written down or explained. As such, there is no point trying!

This too, and I'd argue its a different answers for every artist out there. There's no single way to make a great memorable album.

ship of fools 11/21/12 02:18 PM

Being good. Time. Other people agreeing with you.

Holly HoX! 11/21/12 02:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115644472)
Omg. Just gonna listen to built to spill all day :)


Haha exactly. doesn't get much better than Conventional Wisdom when it comes to indie rock.

Holly HoX! 11/21/12 02:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115647772)
are you going to address my serious posts or just that one


Not worth trying imo

Grohl 11/21/12 02:48 PM

It does a lot without actively trying. There isn't an overt attempt to make a classic. It came from something real at a certain period of time. It represents a generation while remaining timeless somehow.

Star Slight 11/21/12 02:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Holly HoX! (Post 115649272)
Not worth trying imo

:shrug: He said he didn't understand me so I clarified and he didn't respond. I'm used to it at this point

TheRxBandit 11/21/12 03:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115626712)
this is a great point.

Two mods on AP like my post! I'M FAMOUS.

Dre Okorley 11/21/12 04:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RonStoppable (Post 115638512)
I hadn't been aware that GKMC was being considered "classic". Except for Kanye's MBDTF, the last few years I haven't thought about any album in that context, my favorite albums just end up on my end of the year list. As GKMC probably will, probably in the #1 spot.

But I wouldn't say it's a classic, and pretty much whatever else I believe has already been stated very well by that Star Slight and Argentine post. Though I will back the side that says TCD, LR and MBDTF are classics.

About GKMC, you might be interested in reading this. Very relevant to this volatile topic.
It's an interesting review war/debate that I dipped into myself a couple of weeks ago under the username laralogic.

Blake Solomon 11/21/12 04:13 PM

i honestly feel unable to accurately answer this. I don't feel "mature" enough, if that makes sense. I feel like I am not done becoming my final self. Which is to say, the Blake answering this question is not the same person who would have answered it last year. Or next year. I don't know when that happens, or if I'm making it up in my head, but I think that I won't be able to say what is a classic album to me until I'm actually a mature adult. Like, it is hard for me to believe that 30 year old me will still like an album by a band like Park or Northstar. Those bands have classic albums to this version of me, but I'm not sure that will continue to be true. Like I say, that might be off-base, but that's how I feel now. So I guess what makes an album a classic, is me.

Blake Solomon 11/21/12 04:14 PM

that being said, ive really enjoyed reading peoples' answers to this. great job everyone and happy thanksgiving!

yourbiggestflan 11/21/12 06:04 PM

well said. Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" would be the same for jazz i guess.

i think it just depends on the person too.

No band or artists will ever be determined classic by everyone. If we had to be generic and assume that though, we could say The Beates, but it's so debatable.

Searos 11/21/12 08:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Br&New182 (Post 115637342)
agreed. tbc is good, but not std's best. swya is thier best emo/pop-rock release. like you said though, this album is special. see you, nightingale. aygtf, freakish, firefly and exit still get daily spins. in reverie is thier best indie and i'm starting to really enjoy it, espeically the title track. sound the alarm i thought was strong but suffered from redundant themes. utb felt too drawn out, but can't stay the same/radio/ and get f--ked up are still solid. . daybreak was stronger but chris' voice really gets to me on the record and the lyrics fell too drawn out again at times.

One thing that makes me love Daybreak (3rd favorite) is that it is such a complete album and has such a strong theme. The title track (11 something minutes long) sets the stage for the album. Dark to Light. It tells the story of someone who has lost it all finding his way back to love and being reborn. When I talked to Chris after their tour last year they said the album is about rebirth and some of their favorite material they have ever written. I do see where people say he does get whiny but it fits in the context of the album and honestly is one of my go to albums when I have had a rough fight with my girlfriend. Daybreak may not end up being a classic to me but I love the feelings and emotion it embodies and while I like In Reverie and Stay What You Are more I think Daybreak is their most whole and complete work.

(. j) 11/21/12 09:29 PM

It seems people get the terms "classic" and "masterpiece" confused. A classic album can only be deemed so if it stands the test of time, whilst a masterpiece holds value at the current time.

Seeing how most people are using Kanye as an example, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a masterpiece while College Dropout can be seen as a classic. With that being said, good kid, m.A.A.d city is definitely a masterpiece.

EatShit182 11/21/12 10:25 PM

I don't think classic has ever been a really well defined word when it comes to music, how are you supposed to decide what does or doesn't make something a classic if the definition of classic varies from person to person, anyways? Silly article, if you ask me.

BobDylanismyman 11/21/12 11:01 PM

There are personal classics and universal classics. It's kind of a perspective thing...

Some universal that come to mind:

Dr. Dre "The Chronic"
Nirvana "Nevermind"
Metallica "Black Album"
Michael Jackson "Thriller"
Guns n Roses "Appetite"
Green Day "Dookie"
Def Leppard "Hysteria"
Led Zeppelin "2" and "4"
The Beatles "Sargent Peppers..."
Red Hot Chilli Peppers "Blood Sugar Sex"
Eminem "Marshal Mathers LP"
U2 "Joshua Tree"
ECT...

Personal classics could go on forever...starting with Glassjaw "Everything.." and Everytime I die "Hot Damn" and Neutral Milk Hotel "Aeroplane" and Refused "Shape"

CheckeredFloors 11/22/12 03:04 AM

Star slight.

Memphis 11/22/12 05:21 AM

Don't know if anyone mentioned it already, but out of the albums from the past few years. I think The Suburbs is definitely a classic in both personal and general way. I haven't grown tired of it one bit, if anything, it's only getting better with time... The 59 Sound is another recent one.

My other personal classics include: Futures, The Weight Is a Gift, Illinoise, Sam's Town, Elephant, Disintegration, All Things Must Pass, A Hard Day's Night, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road... Among others. :)

Reece Wagner 11/22/12 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stuckinthe90's (Post 115613722)
Third eye blind self titled. If you really listen-and actually listen, I believe no album moving forward will have enough backing from a label, or funds from elsewhere, to be produced like that. (16 guitar tracks on one song 'the background' with $50k worth of amps alone to modify sound).

Also most Zeppelin albums come to mind.

I back 3EB's self titled as a classic for sure, but where did you get that info? I don't doubt it but I've just never heard that before. 16 guitar tracks? Wow. I can't hear them.

Thomas Nassiff 11/22/12 10:54 AM

For me, calling an album a "classic" has a lot to do with the personal relationship you have with an album. For me, The '59 Sound is a "classic" album already but I can understand why a lot of people would disagree. That was the first CD I bought when I had my own car. I developed a relationship with that album so to me, it's on that level. I am reluctant to call things released very recently a "classic," though. There are certain album that I think will hold up very well over time - usually when I think that, I'll include it in my review of the album - but I wouldn't call them classics right off the bat. The Kanye record may very well hold up and become a great album in that genre, but I don't think we should call it a classic until we can look back upon it and see its true reach and influence. If you want to call it a classic because of what it means to you personally, I suppose that's a different story...but it still hasn't been out very long.

That being said, I'm not opposed to dubbing certain albums as "classics" even though I don't enjoy them. I'm not a very big fan of The Beatles, but that doesn't mean they don't have classic albums. That goes for "scene" records from the early 2000s as well that I may not enjoy as much as others on this website.

Thomas Nassiff 11/22/12 10:55 AM

This is a really cool discussion, wish I had been around when it was going on. Star Slight was super Star Slight in this one.

OneAndrewWest 11/22/12 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by saywhatever (Post 115621572)
You're confusing "personal favorite albums" with "classics".


You may be right, I guess everyone has their own person classics in each genre.

luvsickcatalyst 11/22/12 05:45 PM

It's a good article, but it's sites like Pitchfork that make modern music fans so apt to call out an album as a "classic" or total shit within a week of it coming out. They've become as synonymous for shaming indie bands as they are for anointing rising acts with a "Best New Music" tag, resulting in equally judgmental music fans. I think the only way this critical period of labeling music can be remedied is through music sites gearing less towards reviewing every new album and more constant, opinion-less streaming/featuring of artists they enjoy. People will likely feel less of a need to always have two cents on an album and be more interested in seeking out new artists and albums that they enjoy.

Star Slight 11/22/12 05:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thomas Nassiff (Post 115664792)
This is a really cool discussion, wish I had been around when it was going on. Star Slight was super Star Slight in this one.


Bring it on dork

Thomas Nassiff 11/23/12 09:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115672272)
Bring it on dork


marsvoltamcr 11/24/12 03:54 PM

Bleed The Dream - Built By Blood
Alexisonfire - Alexisonfire
Funeral For A Friend - Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation
The Fall of Troy - Manipulator
Finch - Say Hello To Sunshine

those are all examples of modern classics imo

The Gryphonator 11/24/12 04:15 PM

This has been stated, but really I think it comes down to "Personal Classic" vs. "Classic."