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What Makes an Album a Classic?

Posted by - 01:33 PM on 11/20/12
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.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 248
01:34 PM on 11/20/12
#2
Holly HoX!
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It was a good article
01:39 PM on 11/20/12
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Jason Tate
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"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.
01:40 PM on 11/20/12
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Jake Denning
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Lasting value.
01:40 PM on 11/20/12
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Star Slight
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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
01:45 PM on 11/20/12
#6
Adam Pfleider
wait. what were we talking about?
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Defined as what? Days? Weeks? Months?

Where can you say "classic" in describing it?
01:45 PM on 11/20/12
#7
Adam Pfleider
wait. what were we talking about?
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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.
01:47 PM on 11/20/12
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Star Slight
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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
01:49 PM on 11/20/12
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georgedcc
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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.
01:49 PM on 11/20/12
SingleDoubt
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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.
01:50 PM on 11/20/12
stuckinthe90's
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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.
01:51 PM on 11/20/12
RabidNewz
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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.
01:57 PM on 11/20/12
RabidNewz
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That being said, I also use the term "classic" in a more personal, individual sense based on how an album resonates with me emotionally.
02:04 PM on 11/20/12
Dustin Harkins
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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.
02:06 PM on 11/20/12
Dustin Harkins
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The most recent album I've heard and thought of as a classic is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

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