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

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 01:33 PM

What Makes an Album a Classic?
 
I just got done reading a really great article by Pitchfork columnist Andrew Nosnitsky here. In Nosnitsky's column, he focuses his examples of "classic" albums around the genre of hip-hop and the critical acclaim of Kendrick Lamar's new album good kid, m.A.A.d city. He makes a a lot of valued points on how critics will deem an album a classic with only a few weeks to a month of listening behind it. Where's the time? Where's the album's retrospect in history? For that matter, he also points out the difference in an artist going into the studio to write an album with no real intentions versus the tunnel-vision of making an album for the purpose of having a legacy.

So what makes an album a "classic" or contain "legacy" in the modern age of a saturated musical market. I'm not speaking in terms of hip-hop or this "scene" or your "scene" or radio country or whatever. I'm speaking in terms of any album in any genre. What about some of your personal "classic" records makes them a classic in your eyes? What was the last record you heard in the last five years, two years or year that made you say to yourself, "This is going to have staying power," after a couple of listens? Did it end up holding up? What records are you blown away by ten, twenty, thirty years ago that didn't cement a long-term legacy? What albums are deemed classics that you don't understand their value or worth today?

Hit the replies. I think we can have a great late afternoon discussion.

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 01:34 PM

It was a good article

Jason Tate 11/20/12 01:39 PM

"Deja" remains my go to .. I knew that was special on first listen. Recently Kanye and Bon Iver and Radiohead are the only others that come to mind.

Jake Denning 11/20/12 01:40 PM

Lasting value.

Star Slight 11/20/12 01:40 PM

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

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 01:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jake Denning (Post 115613292)
Lasting value.


Defined as what? Days? Weeks? Months?

Where can you say "classic" in describing it?

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 01:45 PM

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


Link? Would like to read.

Star Slight 11/20/12 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115613502)
Link? Would like to read.


http://images.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2823872


On mobile, sorry. You can edit that into the OP if you want

georgedcc 11/20/12 01:49 PM

For me an album is a classic, if I can imagine myself listening to it for the rest of my life, so I wouldn't use the term lightly. Not sure if there's been any albums released this year that I'd describe as classic. I'd use it within a genre, like 'What's Going On is a classic soul album' meaning it's in the absolute top tier of soul music.

It's a completely personal term for me as well, if you say that album X is a classic, that's cool, but it's not necessarily for me.

SingleDoubt 11/20/12 01:49 PM

I'd say that an album that you can go back to and still find new things that you never heard before or understand a verse from another angle time and time again would definitely make it a classic. Or if you listen to it a million times and the songs can still give you chills. The Postal Service's "Give Up" hits both of those bullet points for me and I would definitely brand it as a classic album.

stuckinthe90's 11/20/12 01:50 PM

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.

RabidNewz 11/20/12 01:51 PM

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.

RabidNewz 11/20/12 01:57 PM

That being said, I also use the term "classic" in a more personal, individual sense based on how an album resonates with me emotionally.

Dustin Harkins 11/20/12 02:04 PM

I'd say a classic is an album that withstands the test of time, as people have said. An album that years and years later still brings something new to the table that no one else can quite replicate. Those aren't the exact words I want to use...but I think you get what I mean.

Dustin Harkins 11/20/12 02:06 PM

The most recent album I've heard and thought of as a classic is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Jared215 11/20/12 02:09 PM

To me, a "classic" album doesn't necessarily have to have that much so-called "lasting power". Any album that is specifically indicative of a stage of my life gets classified as a classic for me. Take Ocean Avenue, for example. Almost everyone on this site would consider it a classic, but if they took a step back and looked at why it was a classic for them, it would be because it was a major part of that stage of their life. And that's my two cents.

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 02:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jared215 (Post 115614372)
To me, a "classic" album doesn't necessarily have to have that much so-called "lasting power". Any album that is specifically indicative of a stage of my life gets classified as a classic for me. Take Ocean Avenue, for example. Almost everyone on this site would consider it a classic, but if they took a step back and looked at why it was a classic for them, it would be because it was a major part of that stage of their life. And that's my two cents.


Good point. The old question of where does an album hold water more: in a personal timeline or a historical one.

ranoa513 11/20/12 02:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115614582)
Good point. The old question of where does an album hold water more: in a personal timeline or a historical one.


It's a trick question. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:22 PM

You Forget It In People
Enter the 36 Chambers
TVU&N
Loveless
Nevermind
Funeral
CYHSY
Dookie
Straight Outta Compton
Ready to Die
Person Pitch
The Low End Theory

Steeeve Perry 11/20/12 02:27 PM

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.

My Bloody Valentine bankrupted people to make Loveless, and that is a far, far, far superior album.
I mean, I understand your point but Zero by teh Smashing Pumpkins has as many, if not more, guitar layers.

(l,k) 11/20/12 02:28 PM

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.

agreed

Jake Denning 11/20/12 02:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115613452)
Defined as what? Days? Weeks? Months?

Where can you say "classic" in describing it?

at least 5 years.

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jake Denning (Post 115615042)
at least 5 years.


No

Steeeve Perry 11/20/12 02:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dustin Harkins (Post 115614282)
The most recent album I've heard and thought of as a classic is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

I'd say this and Funeral would be the most recent examples of albums widely considered instant classics.

Everyone has a different opinion of which albums are classic anyway but for me it's the albums I can listen to on repeat and return to, and those which just blow my mind. Separation Sunday and The Moon and Antarctica are examples where, by the third listen, I could not believe how amazing they were.

parkerisjolley 11/20/12 02:31 PM

I will never understand why so many people consider ok computer to be the gold standard of a lot of music. I've tried listening to that cd but I just think it is really overrated and way too overhyped.

One cd that will always be a classic to me is jack's mannequin's everything in transit

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:33 PM

^^^ one of the funniest things I've read on this site

daftpunker45 11/20/12 02:34 PM

When it comes to hip-hop I tend to only listen to albums that are considered classics, like the first two Kanye albums or The Blueprint. In general, I don't care when people say an album is classic, but I personally am assured of classic status when an album is praised as much as it is at its release as it is multiple years later.

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by daftpunker45 (Post 115615252)
When it comes to hip-hop I tend to only listen to albums that are considered classics, like the first two Kanye albums or The Blueprint. In general, I don't care when people say an album is classic, but I personally am assured of classic status when an album is praised as much as it is at its release as it is multiple years later.


The Low End Theory

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 02:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jake Denning (Post 115615042)
at least 5 years.


Why 5?

swimbearswim 11/20/12 02:40 PM

Blu & Exile "Below the Heavens" is the only classic hip-hop album of the past 5-6 years. And I rank Midnight Marauders over Low End Theory, but Tribe is Tribe so it's win-win.

MXP 11/20/12 02:40 PM

My opinion of what makes an album "classic" is how it hits me. If it hits me the way it did as I first listened to it or if it hits me more than at first. My prime example for me is my favorite album "Discovery" by Daft Punk. That album will hit me the same way as when I die as when I first listened to it.

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115615482)
Why 5?


Because it makes no sense and is completely arbitrary

cpizzle20 11/20/12 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swimbearswim (Post 115615512)
Blu & Exile "Below the Heavens" is the only classic hip-hop album of the past 5-6 years. And I rank Midnight Marauders over Low End Theory, but Tribe is Tribe so it's win-win.

lol

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swimbearswim (Post 115615512)
Blu & Exile "Below the Heavens" is the only classic hip-hop album of the past 5-6 years. And I rank Midnight Marauders over Low End Theory, but Tribe is Tribe so it's win-win.


You fucked up

Star Slight 11/20/12 02:47 PM

Huh

CluckyB 11/20/12 02:47 PM

I think one thing that hasn't been addressed yet is influence. What did the album do for the rest of the genre going forward. Obviously an album being influential and an album being a classic aren't quite the same thing -- but if an album isn't special enough to inspire other musicians to perfect their own craft I'm not sure it can be a true "classic"

MXP 11/20/12 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CluckyB (Post 115615872)
I think one thing that hasn't been addressed yet is influence. What did the album do for the rest of the genre going forward. Obviously an album being influential and an album being a classic aren't quite the same thing -- but if an album isn't special enough to inspire other musicians to perfect their own craft I'm not sure it can be a true "classic"


This as well

swimbearswim 11/20/12 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Holly HoX! (Post 115615752)
You fucked up

Don't know how.. Both are great albums. I just rank the one higher. 8 Million Stories.

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CluckyB (Post 115615872)
I think one thing that hasn't been addressed yet is influence. What did the album do for the rest of the genre going forward. Obviously an album being influential and an album being a classic aren't quite the same thing -- but if an album isn't special enough to inspire other musicians to perfect their own craft I'm not sure it can be a true "classic"


The list i made before is more based on influence I'd say

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swimbearswim (Post 115616042)
Don't know how.. Both are great albums. I just rank the one higher. 8 Million Stories.


One of your statements was opinion, the other was hyperbole.

And i think RJD2 has done better shit than 8, imo

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:52 PM

Star Slight, if you have something to ask, quote.

Drew Beringer 11/20/12 02:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Tate (Post 115613242)
"Deja" remains my go to .. I knew that was special on first listen. Recently Kanye and Bon Iver and Radiohead are the only others that come to mind.

yup, I immediately thought classic the first time I heard last releases from Kanye and Bon Iver.


I think it's hard to explain what makes something a classic - probably a combination of universal praise/acclaim and the emotions and feelings it brings out of the listener.

swimbearswim 11/20/12 02:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Holly HoX! (Post 115616142)
One of your statements was opinion, the other was hyperbk.

And i think RJD2 has done better shit than 8, imo

Oh, you're one of those... Alright.

Jake Denning 11/20/12 02:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115615482)
Why 5?

Because at the very least, it passes the hurdle of a decent length of time without being forgotten by the masses.

Drew Beringer 11/20/12 02:55 PM

And I would say Brand New's Deja, Taking Back Sunday's TAYF, Finch's WIITB and Underoath's TOCS are "scene" classics because after those albums released so many bands emulated and tried to create a record like that.

I would say that today's generation of "scene" bands are drawing more influence from classic albums of the late 90s

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swimbearswim (Post 115616282)
Oh, you're one of those... Alright.


What does that even mean

Star Slight 11/20/12 02:57 PM

Yikes lets not start naming what we think are classics. Weve gone too far now that Finch is in the mix

stuckinthe90's 11/20/12 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steeeve Perry (Post 115614982)
My Bloody Valentine bankrupted people to make Loveless, and that is a far, far, far superior album.
I mean, I understand your point but Zero by teh Smashing Pumpkins has as many, if not more, guitar layers.

I think loveless is ok, but for me the self titled by 3eb really sums up the period it came from, and for me that's what makes it a classic. -prog rock, post grunge, pop, and amazing collaboration with a duo of talented people (kevin cadogan and stephen jenkins). It stands the test of time every time I listen to it (multiple times a month). I feel today the 'big hits' don't have the depth as some of the albums from the 90's that had talent (pumpkins, flaming lips, etc).

To sum up a classic is representative of its time & an album that is still just genuinely good. I may like Devo songs the best bust some Duran Duran albums are more 'classic' in that respect.

Drew Beringer 11/20/12 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115616482)
Yikes lets not start naming what we think are classics. Weve gone too far now that Finch is in the mix

It's not a personal classic for me, but I could see why someone would consider it a classic in the context of this scene, i.e. as far as influence in other bands.

Drew Beringer 11/20/12 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115616482)
Yikes lets not start naming what we think are classics. Weve gone too far now that Finch is in the mix

also fuck you, you don't make the rules here.