Concept album

A concert stage in front of a wall with 2 levels. Five men stand on a balcony, including Roger Waters, who is saluting with his arm and is lit by a spotlight. On the lower level is a drum kit and a man playing guitar.
Pink Floyd's The Wall (1979) is one of the best-known concept albums of all time.[1] Pictured is Roger Waters leading a 1990 performance of the whole album.

A concept album is an album in which its tracks hold a larger purpose or meaning collectively than they do individually.[2][3] This is typically achieved through a single central narrative or theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, or lyrical.[4] Sometimes the term is applied to albums considered to be of "uniform excellence" rather than an LP with an explicit musical or lyrical motif.[5] There is no consensus among music critics as to the specific criteria for what a "concept album" is.[3][6]

The format originates with folk singer Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads (1940) and was subsequently popularized by traditional pop singer Frank Sinatra's 1940s–50s string of albums, although the term is more often associated with rock music. In the 1960s, several well-regarded concept albums were released by various rock bands, which eventually led to the invention of progressive rock and rock opera. Since then, many concept albums have been released across numerous musical genres.

Definitions

There is no clear definition of what constitutes a "concept album".[6][7] Fiona Sturges of The Independent stated that the concept album "was originally defined as a long-player where the songs were based on one dramatic idea – but the term is subjective."[6] A precursor to this type of album can be found in the 19th century song cycle[8] which ran into similar difficulties in classification.[9] The extremely broad definitions of a "concept album" could potentially encompass all soundtracks, compilations, cast recordings, greatest hits albums, tribute albums, Christmas albums, and live albums.[9]

The most common definitions refer to an expanded approach to a rock album (as a story, play, or opus), or a project that either revolves around a specific theme or a collection of related materials.[9] AllMusic writes, "A concept album could be a collection of songs by an individual songwriter or a particular theme — these are the concept LPs that reigned in the '50s ... the phrase 'concept album' is inextricably tied to the late 1960s, when rock & rollers began stretching the limits of their art form."[10] Author Jim Cullen describes it as "a collection of discrete but thematically unified songs whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts ... sometimes [erroneously] assumed to be a product of the rock era."[2] Author Roy Shuker defines concept albums and rock operas as albums that are "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical. ... In this form, the album changed from a collection of heterogeneous songs into a narrative work with a single theme, in which individual songs segue into one another."[4]

Speaking of concepts in albums during the 1970s, Robert Christgau wrote in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), because "overall impression" of an album matters, "concept intensifies the impact" of certain albums "in more or less the way Sgt. Pepper intended", as well as "a species of concept that pushes a rhythmically unrelenting album like The Wild Magnolias or a vocally irresistible one like Shirley Brown's Woman to Woman, to a deeper level of significance."[11]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Канцэпт-альбом
Deutsch: Konzeptalbum
français: Album-concept
한국어: 콘셉트 음반
Bahasa Indonesia: Album konsep
italiano: Concept album
Bahasa Melayu: Album konsep
Nederlands: Conceptalbum
norsk nynorsk: Konseptalbum
português: Álbum conceptual
Simple English: Concept album
slovenčina: Konceptuálny album
slovenščina: Konceptualna plošča
svenska: Konceptalbum
Tiếng Việt: Album chủ đề
中文: 概念專輯