Watching Music: The Visual Album Revolution

Phoebe Little

SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR  

The age of visual albums has come upon us. No longer will fans be fawning over just the music of a new album, but the visuals and storyline of them as well.  Visual albums are an artist’s attempt at bringing their music to life through a series of videos that correspond to the theme of their album. Beyonce’s lemonade and Frank Ocean’s Endless, both released this year, introduce the idea of visual albums to modern day pop fiends who may have missed out on Prince’s purple rain, The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night, or Pink Floyd’s The Wall, a few of the original albums that truly brought the idea of ‘watching music’ to life. 

  Many of us relate to forming our own “visual album” in our heads while listening to music that allows us to picture ourselves living spontaneous or unrealistic moments. Sticking your head out of the sunroof while driving down the coast with your friends is an image you may receive from that perfect summer soundtrack, and despite its cliché nature, it truly adds more of a personal and sentimental meaning to music. Suddenly this song becomes a soundtrack to our thoughts, our visions, and our memories. With the addition of visual albums to the music world, we receive insight on the artist’s thoughts, visions, and memories they associate with their own music. A visual album brings a new texture to music, showing a different side to the artist. Senior Delaney Faherty says “ after I watched Lemonade, I felt more connected to Beyonce’s album as a whole. Now when I listen to her album, i’m able to visualize what this song means to her and symbolizes for her. I feel empowered ,sad, and sassy- just like she did in the video”.  So will visual albums become more popular in the future? This depends entirely on the public’s response. Almost everyone can say they’ve listened to a Beatles song, but very few have heard of their visual album, despite their legendary career. The time and effort put into these films is not appreciated nearly enough by fans, and it is truly a mystery as to why. Beyonce has truly elevated this area of music to a new level, bringing the idea of visual albums back to the music world, and even earning a nomination for an Emmy- but will this be enough to permanently grab the public’s attention.   

  MTV has recently voiced the possibility of adding visual albums to a category, expressing a future for these musical and visual masterpieces after all. This seems to be an issue near and dear to the heart of MTV, with social media arguably taking over the initial purpose of music videos, this industry struggles to keep their music-centered image alive. Many of us search up a video on youtube once it gains enough popularity to be mentioned on twitter or instagram, instead of stumbling upon a video on MTV while channel surfing. Visual albums may very well be what brings MTV back to its roots. Music is individualised, it’s a choice, and it’s an expression. Some agree with certain artists and genres and some don’t. While visual albums hold a different purpose,and  they deserve a chance to become an important part of this industry. Visual albums are just now making their breakthrough, despite their presence in the industry for nearly half a century,  and whether or not they succeed is entirely up to us as a generation, leaving the future of an artform in our hands.

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