What is a Concept Album?

Posted on Mon, 06/17/2024 - 6:27am

For the audio aficionados out there, you know there are tons of different kinds of music albums. There’s the EP & the LP, the novelty album, the compilation, etc.

But one lesser-known (or at least lesser-discussed) type of album is the concept album. We’re talking here about the concept album. While you may have heard the term, some of us may still be left wondering what this term exactly means.

In this article, we’re going to dive in. By the end, you’ll not only understand what a concept album is. You’ll also have some examples of the best concept albums of all time.

Defining the Term “Concept Album”

For those wondering “what is a concept album in music,” you need only focus on one word in the name: “concept.” As it implies, a concept album is deeply conceptual. It takes an artist’s concept and runs with it as far as it can go.

This could be a theme, a story, a vibe, etc. However, it’s important not to confuse these with genre. Most artists stick to a single genre for their albums. But a unified genre doesn’t inherently make a concept album.

Instead, a concept album needs to be a collected work that functions as a unified piece. It is a chance for a musical artist to explore complex themes. Moreover, it’s a chance for listeners to engage beyond mere passive listening.

What Makes a Good Concept Album?

Okay, so we know there needs to be some kind of top-to-bottom theme that the work carries through. But what makes a concept album inherently good?

Think about things this way: all art is up to the audience to interpret. But that doesn’t mean the artist is off the hook. Like any good art, a concept album should be apparent to the audience without contextual sources. So, ask these questions when judging a concept album’s effectiveness:

  • Is there an overarching theme present?
  • Does that theme carry through the entirety of the work?
  • Is there consistency in how audience members interpret those themes?
  • Is there agreement on what the work intends?

Answers to those questions and more can help determine if the concept album is doing an effective job or not.

Great Concept Album Examples

There are countless concept albums throughout history. But let’s be honest, cream rises. Here are some of the best concept albums of all time:

  • Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” (1979) – A full-arc story about the rise and fall of a rock star named Pink.
  • The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967) – The Fab Four’s foray into meta-narrative and self-critique.
  • Prince’s “Purple Rain” (1984) – In which Prince’s alter ego, The Kid, steps into the spotlight.
  • Green Day’s “American Idiot” (2004) – A punk-inspired take on the rock opera.

There are obviously countless others by the Beach Boys, David Bowie, and more. But as you can see, each of these examples pushes the boundaries. They allow the artists to experiment. And they are often recognized on not just lists of the best concept albums, but the best albums of all time.

Launch Your Great Concept Album

If you are thinking of crafting a concept album yourself, don’t stop with merely a unified central theme and great music to match. To truly sell the idea, you’ll need album artwork, liner notes, and more to underscore your concept.

This is where Blank Media Printing comes into play. We work with musical artists of all kinds to craft high-quality disc packaging, CD duplication, and more. Every piece is expertly designed and professionally finished.

Order today.

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