What is a Concept Album?


Denis Mardesich, A&E Editor

Music is something that evolves a lot, and this is mostly due to artists who often experiment with concepts and narratives in their songs and albums, said albums are known as concept albums, here are some of the best.

By definition, a concept album is an album that holds a larger meaning, usually through a central narrative or theme that can be instrumental, lyrical, or compositional. This means that nearly any album that follows a certain person and their story can be a concept album.

Concept albums were popularized, although not invented, by The Beatles in 1967 with their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album that is meant to follow the character of Sgt. Pepper and his band, this theme is seen from the instrumentals of the album, and track titles.

However, concept albums were around before that release, in fact just a year before, in 1966 The Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out! was released, an album that’s central theme was mocking American pop culture, and it is often considered by music critics to be the first concept album.

Concept albums can have a huge influence on the music scene as a whole as well. The Who’s Tommy, for example, has had a large influence on rock music in the modern day. And Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 release, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City not only topped the charts, but also has had a large influence on hip hop in recent years.

Concepts albums aren’t always thematic in a narrative sense either, sometimes they are considered conceptual in a sense that they deliver something new to a certain sound or genre, this can be seen in experimental artists such as Death Grips, David Bowie, and Bjork are all known for their very unique sounds, and sometimes the uniqueness of their releases will make them considered conceptual in some sense.

Album cover for David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, an album complimented for not only its uniques sound, but also its narrative.

Concept albums are often recognizable for their very strange themes and narratives that their tracks give off. Artists such as Frank Zappa have gained fame from ridiculous concepts in their music. Some concept albums are often based open humor as well, and have more of a purpose of entertainment rather than the purpose of having a deeper meaning that affects the listener.

In conclusion, concept albums are a very unique aspect of the music world. An aspect that often has a large influence on music as a whole. And whether or not a concept album is about Adult Swim skits or a symbolic message about isolation and loneliness the importance of them is undeniable in the music industry and in the creative process of an artist.