Artists of today are known to create events around releases, making us all want to interact and get involved. This is the reason for surprise album drops, live stream announcements, big launches and more. One way of doing this is to create a must-watch event to take the music to another level. Stick with us to explore visual albums, including what they are, some top picks and why artists are choosing to create them!
What Are Visual Albums?
Visual albums have existed in some form for years now, but its safe to say that they have been on the rise recently. The VMA’s now even have the category “Breakthrough Long Form Video”, honoring the medium as an art form in its own right.
These types of album are essentially long-form music videos. They usually feature multiple songs, and act as extended cinematic works or films based around music. Think of visual albums as a hybrid of music, video and film.
Why Do Artists Make Visual Albums?
In a world where most of our stimulation is visual thanks to smartphones, YouTube and social media, combining music and visuals is a great way to level up your album. Visual albums elevate tracks into cinematic, all-encompassing experiences that work similarly to music videos. They allow the impact of the music to be greater, due to the interweaving of the accompanying visuals.
Artist Mereba discussed the reasons behind her visual EP The Jungle Is The Only Way Out, saying that “[Films] give you the space and time to really establish a world all your own. The depth of storytelling is just different when you are showing the range of your project in that way—I knew I wanted to lead people into the world we had created that also told my story.”
Visual albums also create more interest around an album release, and make the launch more memorable. Treating the film’s release as an event means greater awareness of the album and allows the artist to translate their ideas on various topics visually as well as through audio.
Examples Of Visual Albums
There is a surprising amount out there, so let’s take a look at some of the greats.
Lemonade – Beyoncé (2016)
We’ll start with one that we’ve all heard of. Beyoncé’s Lemonade took the world by storm in 2016, and is a 65-minute film. The film is divided into 11 chapters, covering themes such as racism, feminism, infidelity and African-American history. These are entitled ‘Intuition’, ‘Denial’, ‘Apathy’ and so on, and each center around a different song from the album Lemonade. This one is interesting because although it is a coherent piece of art with various themes that flow, it can be broken up into 11 individual music videos with interweaving elements such as dialogue, poetry, voice over and various celebrity appearances.
Daft Punk – Interstella 5555 (2003)
Despite a slightly off-the-wall plot, Interstellar is said to have cost around $4 million to create. The story revolves around alien musicians who are captured by an evil record label. Swarming with bright colors and 80s nostalgia, it’s one for fans of anime and mesmerizing visuals. There is no dialogue, relying on the tracks from Daft Punk’s Discovery to carry the plot.
Noah And The Whale – The First Days Of Spring (2009)
The First Days Of Spring was inspired by the breakdown of vocalist Charlie Fink’s relationship with band member Laura Marling. The 43-minute film features the songs of the album, and provides greater insight into the tracks lyrics in context to stages of a break up.
Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982)
Three years after Pink Floyd’s The Wall album dropped, the visual album was released. It centers around a rock star (Bob Geldof) pushed to the edge after his father’s death. He then constructs an imaginary wall to protect himself from the world. The songs replace almost all of the film’s dialogue, and addresses themes such as mental illness, fascism, drug abuse, violence and more. It went on to win 2 BAFTAs and is hailed a musical and visual masterpiece.
Prince – Purple Rain (1984)
This one is iconic, and for good reason! Whilst it is perhaps technically more of a soundtrack, the film is a visual and aural experience that set the bar for future visual albums. It mixes 80s visuals, pop aesthetic and the color purple whilst following Prince’s The Kid. The character is a tortured musician experiencing the dark side of fame, and is infused with concert shots and electric performances.
Other artists that have delved into visual albums and paved the way include Michael Jackson, Frank Ocean, Justin Bieber, The Beatles, Solange and many more!
Visual albums are a joy to watch, and allow artists to collaborate, fully translate their vision and connect further to audiences.
The power of combining music and visuals isn’t to be underestimated, as many content creators, vloggers and videographers know. If you’re a creator looking for music to elevate your project, check out Audiosocket. With our library of over 80,000 tracks, you’ll be sure to find the perfect soundtrack to your next masterpiece. Sign up now!