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06:14 AM on 11/21/12
#1
incognitojones
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A classic is when a great album is released at the right time. Got to have enough people to be excited about it together, and I feel like that is a defining factor. But a classic to one can be unlistenable garbage to another, so its a fine line.
10:08 AM on 11/21/12
#2
incognitojones
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Why not strive for greatness?
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.
10:50 AM on 11/21/12
#3
incognitojones
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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.
Yeah, this exactly.
02:18 PM on 11/21/12
#4
incognitojones
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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.

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.
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