• 99 results
  • 1
  • 2
#1 Edited by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

I've been a fan of music for over a decade. I've reached and explored the depths of Hip Hop, Heavy Metal, Classical music, Hard Rock, and enjoyed some Pop, Reggae and Electronica on the side, on my journey through musical creativity. I appreciate and enjoy almost everything about all these genres. The vocals and lyricism of this rapper, the complex guitar patterns of that band, the atmosphere created by that duo, and the catchiness of this pop singer.

But one thing that for the life of me I've never been able to understand or swallow, is the myriad of "concept albums" with "thematic and meaningful album art" and "interrelated tracks that express an idea or paint a picture." I've listened to so many of these, and the lyrics and "artistic style of self-expression" that the music is supposed to deliver, is always lost on me. Pink Floyd is one of my 10 favorite bands, but they come to mind so much when it comes to this stupid nonsense.

The problem for me is that when you put on the music and listen, you hear great instruments and a good singer who's saying RANDOM WORDS that sound well together. But then you go read about the album, and you discover it's about a dude who was raped and went on a killing spree until he found his soulmate and became a barber. HOW THE FUCK?

The latest example that broke my camel's back is Stone Sour's House of Gold & Bones. The instrumental vibe is refreshing, Slipknot dude's vocals are energetic as always, I love the music, but he's saying random ass shit. Then I went on Wikipedia and read about the album's story which I couldn't find, see or hear in the goddamn lyrics. Where is it then? How do I learn this story if not through these mediocre but very well done 4-minute-a-piece songs with random ass yet catchy lyrics? If you've listened to the album, go and have your mind blown by this enormous Wikipedia plot summary that came out of nowhere.

I've also finished reading Nineteen Eighty Four a few days ago, and I read that Radiohead's 2 + 2 = 5 pays homage to the book. I listened to the song and read the lyrics. How the FUCK is that, admittedly musical masterpiece, but of random words, related to Orwell's novel?

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

#2 Posted by CreepingDeath0 (176 posts) -

One of my favourite albums ever is a concept album. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero.

I've been meaning to check out House of Gold & Bones, had no idea it was a concept album, but after Audio Secrecy being duller than 5 day old dishwasher I'm slightly less enthusiastic about the whole thing.

#3 Edited by StrikeALight (1114 posts) -

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Really can't be bothered, tbh.

#4 Posted by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

One of my favourite albums ever is a concept album. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero.

Why's it your favorite and does its lyrics and artwork have anything to do with what people claim it talks about? Thanks.

@jouseldelka said:

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Really can't be bothered, tbh.

Well then you're just no fun.

#5 Posted by Tarsier (1069 posts) -

youre the one who thought i was trolling when i was talking about the spiritual/artistic depth of only god forgives arent you... lol

#6 Posted by SharkEthic (1057 posts) -

Don't refer to lyrics as "random words" just because you don't understand them. Please and thank you.

#7 Posted by Damodar (1428 posts) -

I like concept albums, but I think that's mostly because there just happen to be a bunch of albums that I like that are concept albums. It's really just an extra layer or two that you can choose to appreciate or not. I find it weird that you're bothered by concept albums that you weren't even aware were concept albums. If you didn't know, they hadn't done anything in creating a concept album that stopped you from just liking the melodies and lyrics and so on.

It depends on how you appreciate music. For some people, they just want a catchy riff or melody, some catchy lyrics etc. Other people will want to try and analyze the lyrics and decode some deeper message, or they'll pick up on things like repeating lyrical or musical themes or things of that nature. It's totally subjective, obviously, and appreciation of things like concept albums will really be dictated by what camp you fall in to as a listener.

#8 Posted by Tarsier (1069 posts) -

Don't refer to lyrics as "random words" just because you don't understand them. Please and thank you.

this is the root of the issue. something is deemed pretentious because he doesnt understand it. and ones who do understand it are trolls/hipsters?

#9 Edited by Vonocourt (2141 posts) -

#10 Edited by audioBusting (1623 posts) -

Heavy metal concept albums can be cool as hell. I like Iced Earth's The Crucible of Man, and the story in that one is pretty clear.

But yeah...

@sharkethic said:

Don't refer to lyrics as "random words" just because you don't understand them.

edit: This too.

#11 Posted by SharkEthic (1057 posts) -
#12 Posted by Fattony12000 (7528 posts) -
Concepts.

#13 Edited by moondogg (220 posts) -

Gojira, From Mars to Sirius.

And no concept albums are not pretentious nonsense.

#14 Posted by gokaired (559 posts) -

It never used to be, going off to experiment can help the a Genre, Miles Davis was a great experimenter with different concepts. There are always duds of course today "concept" albums just seem to be done to inflate ego rather than push any boundaries or contribute to the genre.

but then my cut off date for most music is 2005.

#15 Edited by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

@vonocourt: @audiobusting: @fattony12000: @moondogg: I really appreciate your recommendations, guys, but saying "this album is a good concept album" is not enough. I've heard the same claims about other albums before.

Unless you provide some lyrics and artwork booklet samples, which you absolutely don't have to, that show that the meaning of the album is actually IN the lyrics and not just summarized on a blog somewhere online, then you might as well be making it up :)

@tarsier said:

@sharkethic said:

Don't refer to lyrics as "random words" just because you don't understand them. Please and thank you.

this is the root of the issue. something is deemed pretentious because he doesnt understand it. and ones who do understand it are trolls/hipsters?

No, not really, unless you can't show that concept music actually has a concept conveyed through the words, in that case why wouldn't I call you a hipster? Because you're claiming something that you haven't proven is actually there.

This is literature class all over again!

#16 Posted by Tajasaurus (898 posts) -

Nope

#17 Edited by audioBusting (1623 posts) -

@jouseldelka: You can always give them a listen... They're all on Spotify. Anyways, the albums I mentioned have pretty straightforward, literal plots. The Crucible of Man is about an Anti-Christ character, and Operation: Mindcrime is about a hitman. They're like musical theatre, in a way.

Hey Nikki you know everything

That there is to do

Here's a gun take it home

Wait by the phone

We'll send someone over

To bring you what you need

You're a one man death machine

Make this city bleed

Operation: Mindcrime
#18 Edited by jimmy_p (278 posts) -

every 70's prog album. i cant understand how you didnt grasp this then

also happens to be one of the best

dogs, pigs, sheep

#19 Posted by IroN1c (532 posts) -

@creepingdeath0 said:

One of my favourite albums ever is a concept album. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero.

Why's it your favorite and does its lyrics and artwork have anything to do with what people claim it talks about? Thanks.

It's my favourite concept album as well and yes, the artwork and lyrics absolutely convey what it is about.

There is a bit of vagueness in the lyrics but it makes sense all of the time. Though the music might not be for everyone.

#20 Posted by SharkEthic (1057 posts) -
@tarsier said:

@sharkethic said:

Don't refer to lyrics as "random words" just because you don't understand them. Please and thank you.

this is the root of the issue. something is deemed pretentious because he doesnt understand it. and ones who do understand it are trolls/hipsters?

No, not really, unless you can't show that concept music actually has a concept conveyed through the words, in that case why wouldn't I call you a hipster? Because you're claiming something that you haven't proven is actually there.

This is literature class all over again!

I don't really think I need to "prove" shit, because here's the thing, I'm not the one that's having trouble grasping the concept of a metaphor. You wouldn't yell at your literature teacher to prove that there was meaning behind the words of someone like Nietzsche, just because you can't wrap your mind around it (or maybe you would actually). Dismissing lyrics by going "WHAT THE FUCK, THESE ARE JUST RANDOM WORDS, THIS IS BULLSHIT" isn't going to entice as much debate around the topic as you would have hoped, I'm afraid.

#21 Edited by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

@audiobusting: That's a pretty good start. The slice of lyrics you put are about a hitman and his gun, like you claimed it is. My sanity is returning, thanks haha.

@jimmy_p said:

every 70's prog album. i cant understand how you didnt grasp this then

also happens to be one of the best

dogs, pigs, sheep

I've listened to that album in its entirety at least 15 times in the past 10 years, it's my favorite Floyd record because of the phenomenal music. I remember the lyrics, but I don't see how they are connected or serve a higher purpose. How is that "extra" layer of concept there? Maybe I'm stupid, please explain to me.

Who was born in a house full of pain.

Who was trained not to spit in the fan.

Who was told what to do by the man.

Who was broken by trained personnel.

Who was fitted with collar and chain.

Who was given a pat on the back.

Who was breaking away from the pack.

Who was only a stranger at home.

Who was ground down in the end.

Who was found dead on the phone.

Who was dragged down by the stone.

Found dead on the phone and dragged down by the stone? Such nonsense.

#22 Posted by TruthTellah (9323 posts) -

No. It is not.

#23 Posted by audioBusting (1623 posts) -
#24 Edited by DystopiaX (5335 posts) -

Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is a concept album that attempts to portray the rapper's upbringing in Compton, and is considered one of the best rap albums to come out last year.

#25 Posted by jimmy_p (278 posts) -

@jouseldelka: off of the top of my head:

first of all, dogs are all the ones doing dirty work for the higher ups (pigs)

house full of pain= violence growing up, abuse

dont spit in the fan= dont talk back and do what youre told

told what to do by the man, broken by trained personnel, fitted with collar and chain= while trying to make a career, government makes you their puppet, and given an occasional pat on the back for your dirty work

so in the end after recieving abuse and then giving it back your whole life thinking you had power, you end up getting dragged down and dead by the same thing

"too late to loose the weight you used to need to throw around" - other lyrics from the track

#26 Posted by CheapPoison (739 posts) -

Nope, some of the best albums have been concept albums. There probably is some bullshit in there, but at it best it shows a very well thought out whole that works well together, not 10 catch songs thrown onto a cd.

#27 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (2025 posts) -

I'm sorry to say but I don't think you quite get metaphors or figurative language. If you think Animals isn't blatant then I dunno what to say to you, because that's a pretty clear bag on capitalism's major ideas.

#28 Posted by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

I'm sorry if my tone puts you off, I'm just angry because I'm lonely all the time and will be found dead on the phone, dragged down by the stone one day (am I doing it right guys?)

Feel free to discontinue this conversation but I still want to ask, what does "understanding a metaphor" mean? Do you understand it on your own upon reading the lyrics? Or do you have to read a wiki or a blog/discuss it with others, and then you understand and accept it? If the latter, doesn't that contradict the concept of understanding? Doesn't it mean the lyrics are inexplicable and thus should be deemed meaningless?

Are we talking about a big yet finite number of literary metaphors that you learn as you go forward in life, or does concept music have an infinite amount of metaphors than any songwriter with a pen can conjure up? If the latter is the case, because art, then how am I supposed to understand what he intended?

If it's subjective, then why does it seem that people who claim they understand the concept lyrics, usually agree on what that 'album was about'?

#29 Posted by RVonE (4664 posts) -

@tarsier said:

@sharkethic said:

Don't refer to lyrics as "random words" just because you don't understand them. Please and thank you.

this is the root of the issue. something is deemed pretentious because he doesnt understand it. and ones who do understand it are trolls/hipsters?

No, not really, unless you can't show that concept music actually has a concept conveyed through the words, in that case why wouldn't I call you a hipster? Because you're claiming something that you haven't proven is actually there.

This is literature class all over again!

How do you feel about modernist writing like that of William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, or even that of T.S. Eliot?

A second question, why would music's lyrical content be the only mode of transmitting a concept? Isn't one of the fundamental characteristics of music that it is something entirely different from literature? For example, the majority of classical music doesn't employ vocals at all and still most of it is an expression of one or more concepts.

#30 Posted by joshwent (2301 posts) -

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

easy

#31 Edited by MildMolasses (3225 posts) -

@jouseldelka said:

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Most of King Diamond's albums.

That was easy

@joshwent fuck. you beat me as I was reading the thread, and with a way better example

#32 Posted by johncallahan (582 posts) -

Pet Sounds yo.

#33 Edited by Winsord (1249 posts) -
@vonocourt said:

@jouseldelka said:

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Yup, Vonocourt has it right. Hospice is a very straight forward and obvious album when it comes to just basic comprehension, so if you can't grasp that then there's no hope. It does worry me that you can read the lyrics to "2 + 2 = 5" and not see how those lyrics reference or relate to 1984 though; sounds like you might not be very good at understanding metaphors and picking up on themes.

If you want really straight forward though, listen to Mastodon's "Crack the Skye". Here is band member Brann Dailor's explanation of the album:

"There is a paraplegic and the only way that he can go anywhere is if he astral travels. He goes out of his body, into outer space and a bit like Icarus, he goes too close to the sun, burning off the golden umbilical cord that is attached to his solar plexus. So he is in outer space and he is lost, he gets sucked into a wormhole, he ends up in the spirit realm and he talks to spirits telling them that he is not really dead. So they send him to the Russian cult, they use him in a divination and they find out his problem. They decide they are going to help him. They put his soul inside Rasputin's body. Rasputin goes to usurp the czar and he is murdered. The two souls fly out of Rasputin's body through the crack in the sky(e) and Rasputin is the wise man that is trying to lead the child home to his body because his parents have discovered him by now and think that he is dead. Rasputin needs to get him back into his body before it's too late. But they end up running into the Devil along the way and the Devil tries to steal their souls and bring them down…there are some obstacles along the way."

Alright, maybe I could understand why you might not get that after listening to the album. But in all seriousness though, there are a lot of great concept albums that tie together in theme, both lyrically and instrumentally. Even if the specific ideas for the Mastodon albums are too difficult to pick up on, it's really easy to figure out the feeling they're going for with their albums and the 'element' the album is about: Blood Mountain is earth, Crack the Skye is aether and ethereal, Leviathan is the sea, etc.

Edit: I'll also throw the Deltron 3030 album out there.

#34 Posted by FunkyS (107 posts) -

To some degree or another all music is "concept" music. I'm sure a lot of albums that aren't prog are concept albums in disguise (a lot of rap and hip hop could be described this way, I just can't think of any specifics right now).

Sometimes crazy, indecipherable music needs convoluted lyrics. The Mars Volta wouldn't be the same with everyday words and phrases.

#35 Posted by MEATBALL (3335 posts) -

Typically, yes, though that doesn't really mean they can't be enjoyed.

#36 Posted by SharkEthic (1057 posts) -

I'm sorry if my tone puts you off, I'm just angry because I'm lonely all the time and will be found dead on the phone, dragged down by the stone one day (am I doing it right guys?)

This is really funny, though not in the way you intended it to be.

I'm out.

#37 Edited by cmblasko (1285 posts) -

No, they're completely subjective just like any other piece of art.

Two I can think of off the top of my head that I think would satisfy what you are looking for in a concept album are Deltron 3030 and Rush's latest release Clockwork Angels. On both albums, a majority of the songs are dedicated to exploring characters or events that take place within their respective fictional universe.

#38 Posted by Epidehl (309 posts) -

Metropolis Pt. 2 by Dream Theater, both The Protomen albums, and as someone else already mentioned, Them by King Diamond. Hell, it get s a little crazy but American Idiot isn't half-bad either.

Even if the stories may not immediately "make sense" I love concept albums more than most other stuff because they provide a sense of consistency to the songs, and make it feel more worth listening to as a whole album.

#39 Posted by Drakoji (223 posts) -

I was going to talk about Protomen haha.

They are the perfect exemple of a simple yet effective concept album band. They crafted a story about megaman with heavy infulences from 1984 and Blade Runner and the story tell the journey / fall of Megaman and the House of Light.

If you like 80's rock and synths, you should enjoy that. And hell if you are on GiantBomb I hope you like Megaman.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_II:_The_Father_of_Death

A good exemple too could be My Chemical Romance CDs, they are all concept albums, but they set up more a theme than a storyline. Black Parade is about Death and coping with it. Killjoys is about Life and enjoying it even if everything around you can be soulcrushing.

#40 Posted by TheGanjaKing (63 posts) -

They definitely can be when the artist is trying to make wide generalized definitions of the way things are. I enjoy it more in a album-long narrative sense, where the artist is more working with musical concepts.

See: the fiery furnaces - blueberry boat, rehearsing my choir

The microphones - mt. Eerie

#41 Edited by audioBusting (1623 posts) -
@jouseldelka said:

I'm sorry if my tone puts you off, I'm just angry because I'm lonely all the time and will be found dead on the phone, dragged down by the stone one day (am I doing it right guys?)

Feel free to discontinue this conversation but I still want to ask, what does "understanding a metaphor" mean? Do you understand it on your own upon reading the lyrics? Or do you have to read a wiki or a blog/discuss it with others, and then you understand and accept it? If the latter, doesn't that contradict the concept of understanding? Doesn't it mean the lyrics are inexplicable and thus should be deemed meaningless?

Are we talking about a big yet finite number of literary metaphors that you learn as you go forward in life, or does concept music have an infinite amount of metaphors than any songwriter with a pen can conjure up? If the latter is the case, because art, then how am I supposed to understand what he intended?

If it's subjective, then why does it seem that people who claim they understand the concept lyrics, usually agree on what that 'album was about'?

I think "understanding a metaphor" means getting some kind of meaning out of it. It doesn't matter whether you're right or not (if you can be right or wrong at all).

Understanding can be a collaborative process. I don't think discussing something contradicts the concept of understanding. If you get more meaning out of it after a discussion, then you understand it more. If the lyrics are truly inexplicable, then you wouldn't have gotten any meaning after a discussion. I finally 'got' what Dogs 'is all about' just now because the Wikipedia article points out that the guy wears a bolo tie. I think my understanding of the song is better because of it. I don't think I should deem it meaningless now.

Whether the metaphor is a good one or not is a different question altogether. If it's a good one, people would probably agree on one or two interpretations of it, which would probably be close to the original intent of the author. But all that has no bearing on our individual understanding of the metaphor, in my opinion. A lot of art has been enjoyed in all the wrong ways, and there's nothing wrong with that to me.

What can be wrong, though, is to dismiss (or seem dismissive of) other's interpretations of a song because it doesn't agree with our own. "Pretentious" and "nonsense" aren't exactly nice words. Don't let the bad blood of an internet forum slow and turn to stone, or you'll have a good drown.

edit: Wow that sounds way more like a threat than I meant, sorry.

#42 Edited by Bloodlines (172 posts) -

Still Life by Opeth, is an excellent concept album. The story told is pretty clear and understandable .

#43 Edited by SMTDante89 (2600 posts) -

Thank goodness somebody brought up Operation: Mindcrime, that's probably one of the best examples I could have come up with off the top of my head.

#44 Posted by Rowr (5824 posts) -

I believe they can be pretty wanky.

But they aren't all automatically pretentious. It's music man, no where does it say it needs to be clear and understandable to enjoy.

Does every song need to be Bicycle Race by Queen. Or another fucking loser singing about the girl that dumped him two years ago that he will never let go. I'd prefer not.

Shit by The Protomen and Coheed and Cambria I will defend, at least they are doing something creative.

If bands are jumping on the concept album bandwagon though it's obviously going to get pretty lame because 85 percent of artists involved in popular music are talentless scum. Unfortunately it's driven by 85 percent of the consumer population being mindless idiots and/or teens.

#45 Posted by EXTomar (4849 posts) -

I think "concept albums" have their place. Using a "theme" that runs through all of the songs allows for the writers and performers structure and a lens to focus on.

#46 Edited by tescovee (361 posts) -

#47 Posted by medacris (666 posts) -

@funkys: Janelle Monae. She's writing a series of concept albums about a female android who's on the run for falling in love with a human.

@rowr said:

Shit by The Protomen and Coheed and Cambria I will defend, at least they are doing something creative.

I will defend Coheed and Cambria and The Mars Volta with anything they do. I love their music, and they got me through some really tough times. I don't think concept albums are pretentious, regardless of whether they're strung together by a story, or by a central concept. Maybe it's the literary nerd in me, but I love stories, structure, themes that keep the album feeling like a complete piece instead of a bunch of unrelated songs, worldbuilding, stuff on an epic scale.

#48 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

@jouseldelka said:

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Isn't Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds essentially a concept album?

But yes, in most cases I'd have to agree. Generally one doesn't identify albums as concept albums until the person making explicitly states it as such, and as much as I like Year Zero, I wouldn't know that was supposed to be a concept album if Reznor hadn't done a bunch of interviews saying so and there hadn't been a load of weird websites prior to its release.

Plus there's the whole argument of "loose concept", where even the vaguest recurring elements are tied together to form a largely implied narrative, or the best one of all, where I read AFI's Sing The Sorrow was "a concept album with the tracks mixed up", which I'm sure you could say about anything.

#49 Posted by BaneFireLord (2952 posts) -

@jouseldelka: Counterpoint: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden. You're welcome.

#50 Posted by Brodehouse (10081 posts) -

@jouseldelka: Pink Floyd's Animals is about the drudgery of modern Western life, in each song he's describing various lives that we lead in order to fit into society, and his dissatisfaction with them is pretty evident. Dragged down by the stone, as in, individuality drowned. Like a stone you're tied to.

Do you really not understand metaphor?

Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime is a modern retelling of Crime & Punishment in which a drug using, disenfranchised youth joins a seemingly anarchist group and is then brainwashed to perform assassinations against leaders. He continues this for a while before he's told to kill his accomplice, Sister Mary, who he falls in love with. He attempts to quit the anarchist group to dire results, Sister Mary is killed, and as he spirals into madness he's captured by police and thrown in an asylum, where he relives the same events over and over and over. All of this is told through song. Also happens to be one of the best albums ever made.

Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle-Earth is an adaptation of Tolkein's Silmarillion.

David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars is an original story of ... uh, the world is ending in five years, a spacefaring rockstar comes to earth, all the kids love him, but excess and ego spells his doom. I don't know if they ever resolve the world ending.

23 years later David Bowie made an album called Outside which was set in a dystopian future where people commit 'art crime', murder as an art form.

Dream Theater's Metropolis Part II is about a man who goes to a hypnotist to deal with strange dreams. It turns out he's the reincarnation of a girl who was murdered in the 20s, and he attempts to unravel the mystery of her death.

Evergrey's The Inner Circle follows a man attracted and ensnared by a religious cult, and their eventual rebellion and attempt to save themselves.

Fates Warning's A Pleasant Shade of Grey.... honestly I'm not sure what it's about. I suppose I could look it up.

The Foo Fighter's The Color and the Shape is a loose concept album about the beginning and ending of a relationship.

Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is about... phew, it's about a Puerto Rican street tough in New York being sucked into a strange fantasy world where he's imprisoned, then wanders, then has his body destroyed and reconstructed, at one point he has to cut his dick off and it's stolen by a crow...

I could continue going down my Itunes list but I'm gonna stop now.