Opinion: Listening to the whole album is essential

Nora K.

Nora K., Social Media Manager

“That’s like reading a book and skipping to a different chapter when it’s done. Song order isn’t just random if it’s actually a good album. They make sense together and it flows together,” says a Reddit user when discussing whether it is necessary to listen to a whole album.

Many believe that listening to one ‘bop’ or popular song on an album is enough to do an artist justice; however, it is my belief that this is simply not true. You absolutely need to listen to the whole album in order to properly understand the meaning behind it.

Here are a few reasons from LifeHack to listen to the whole album as opposed to just a couple of songs:

  • You discover a broader sense of the artist’s intention.
  • It creates a deeper connection between you and the artist.
  • Music makes more sense as an entity.

Along with these, there are some definite examples of albums that won’t make sense or won’t have as much meaning without full context:

Fine Line – Harry Styles: This album follows Styles’ journey through love, loss, and self-acceptance. He experiences love in the songs “Golden” and “Adore You,” lust in “Watermelon Sugar” and “She,” self-acceptance in “Lights Up,” and follows sadness and heartbreak through the songs “Falling,” “To Be So Lonely,” and “Cherry.” The album ends on the phrase “We’ll be alright” within the song which possesses the same title as the album, “Fine Line,” concluding the battle he experiences within himself, one that can be seen throughout the album.

The Wall – Pink Floyd: Not only does this album have songs that flow together perfectly, but it also has an entire movie that goes along with it to showcase a storyline not visible to the naked eye, or ear. This movie has animated segments done by political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe and follows the story of a solitary Rock musician, Pink, who, after being driven into insanity by the death of his father and other depressive, life-changing events during his lifetime, constructs a metaphorical (and occasionally physical) wall to be protected from the world and emotional situations around him. The screenplay was written by Pink Floyd vocalist and bassist Roger Waters.

“You need to listen to the whole album to get the full story. That’s that. There’s no way around it because they made the whole album for a reason, or else they would’ve just made one song,” says J. Scott (’20) on why listening to the whole album is important for a deeper understanding of the artist’s purpose.

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