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From Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms

Visual albums

  • Music albums that feature narratively or stylistically cohesive longform music videos.
  • URI(s)

  • Instance Of

  • Scheme Membership(s)

  • Collection Membership(s)

  • Form

    • Visual albums
  • Broader Terms

  • Sources

    • found: Work cat.: Beyoncé. Lemonade, 2016: accompanying DVD (A visual album by Beyoncé)
    • found: Wikipedia, Mar. 30, 2017: Lemonade (Beyoncé album) (Lemonade is the sixth studio album by American singer Beyoncé. It was released on April 23, 2016; the record is Beyoncé's second "visual album"; The album was accompanied by the release of a 60-minute film of the same name, which premiered on HBO on April 23, 2016)
    • found: Time magazine, via WWW, Mar. 30, 2017: See the far-reaching impact of Beyoncé's Lemonade (the high-concept visual album leads this Sunday's Grammy Awards with nine nominations, including Album of the Year)
    • found: Coscarelli, J. Beyoncé raised the bar with 'Lemonade.' Now others are leaping, too, in New York times, Sept. 28, 2016, viewed online Mar. 30, 2017 ("Lemonade," her sixth solo album, had its premiere in April as an artsy and provocative hourlong film on HBO, raising the bar set by "Beyoncé," the surprise "visual album" that came with videos for every track in 2013; As the value of digital music continues to hover near free for many consumers, some brand-name acts are following Beyoncé's blueprint with high-concept mini-movies that can add artistic heft to projects competing for attention in an infinite pile of content. These extended videos, with their headline-grabbing cameos and high production values, have also become the latest theater in the music streaming war as services like Tidal and Apple Music function not just as platforms but as creative partners (and sometimes financial backers) with artists, in exchange for exclusivity; Frank Ocean's "Endless," a 45-minute "visual album" and musing on the artistic process that was also exclusive to Apple)
    • found: Best albums of 2016: No 1 Lemonade by Beyoncé, via The guardian online, Dec. 16, 2016, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (Beyoncé's Lemonade; a jaw-dropping audiovisual work; On this second sumptuously produced visual album, in which 12 songs are stitched together in a filmic tableau modelled on the Kübler-Ross model of grief, Beyoncé once again pulled the rug out from under the idea of what a pop R&B record could be)
    • found: Savage, M. Beyonce's Lemonade is critics' top album of 2016, via BBC News website, Dec. 22, 2016, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (Beyonce's politically charged visual album Lemonade is the music critics' favourite album of the year)
    • found: Hornaday, A. How Beyoncé perfected the 'visual album' with 'Lemonade', in The Washington post, Apr. 26, 2016, viewed online Mar. 30, 2017 (The visual album isn't new: Over the past half-decade or so, bands from Animal Collective to TV on the Radio have experimented with the genre, an elaboration on MTV-era music videos combining elements of feature filmmaking and provocative high-art collaborations; a form of transmedia--part video, part film, part art installation)
    • found: Palmer, L. How visual albums are changing the way we think of movies and music videos, via Film school rejects website, Aug. 21, 2012, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (In the past few years a new music/video hybrid has become increasingly prevalent. The "visual album" (as coined by Animal Collective) continues to emerge as a means of creative visual expression and (often) as a form of cross-promotion for an album. Unlike music videos, visual albums stage, sometimes with interruptions, the majority of a musician or band's LP; visual albums can occasionally be too long, interconnected, and narratively or stylistically cohesive to be parsed out as standalone shorts or individuated music videos, but aren't long enough to be feature films; often directed by the musician or band rather than a 'proper filmmaker'; "visual album" is a convenient umbrella term for these otherwise hard-to-define not-quite-feature musical films; visual albums are (potentially) not at all films, music videos, or promotional materials, but something else entirely)
    • found: How visual albums became the new norm in 2016, via Baeble music website, Dec. 8, 2016, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (Although visual albums were a thing way back in the 60's (The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night), it seems like it wasn't until today that they became more and more normal; Both audio and visual have been long-running duos. Regular music videos were extremely popular from the 80's well into the early 2000's. Since then, however, music videos have been wavering back and forth, showing subtle declines in interest; visual albums are beginning to make a splash, garnering the attention of many and becoming a new way for artists to differentiate themselves from the rest; visual music videos promote an emotional outlet for artists to create and have fun with releasing their new songs. It's a way for artists to connect to their audiences directly. These artists are allowing their audiences to view their music the way they want us to. It makes it that much more personal, making it one of the main reasons why listeners are aware and interested in the concept of visual albums. Think of it as an evolving technique from your standard music video and these artists have turned something fleeting into something fantastically permanent. With their ability to thread their music into short films and narratives, these artists have come out on top by showing the world their personal projects, reflecting on issues that lie in themselves and society; visual albums have always been existing conceptually with other artists such as Kanye West, Animal Collective, and even going further back with the Beatles)
    • found: Sommers, K. The rise of the visual album: how 'Lemonade' stacks up, via BBC America Anglophenia website, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (The release of Beyoncé's Lemonade has ushered in an era when we talk about "watching" an album, but it's been a long time coming. Artists have tinkered with the form of the visual album, or music film, since the dawn of pop music; to be considered a visual album, a film must feature at least two songs (therefore excluding epic music videos like "Thriller"), link them with a bridging story (knocking out video collections like Daft Punk's D.A.F.T.), and have been developed or released within a year of the corresponding album (making Tommy and Mamma Mia ineligible); Beyoncé christened the genre "visual album" with 2013's self-titled effort, which appeared without warning and with a corresponding video alongside each track)
    • found: Watching the albums we love: a look at different "visual albums" & what that means, via Indie shuffle website, Apr. 29, 2016, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (Lemonade by no means invented the "visual album" genre; "Visual albums" have been around for a long time; not a compilation of music videos; what Lemonade isn't: not a collection of music videos; not a feature film with a cohesive cast of characters who develop; not an entirely abstract or abrasive collection of visuals; not a documentary; not a concert film)
    • found: Vogler, D. See the music: the evolution of visual albums, via Cuepoint website, July 29, 2016, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (From the Beatles to Beyoncé, longform music videos provide a powerful canvas; visual albums as the natural successor to music videos. Long regarded as a gimmicky afterthought not unlike director's commentary on DVD releases, visual albums have always existed on the periphery of the music industry; Beyoncé changed the conversation by making her latest album a must-watch event, not a must-listen; visual albums have existed conceptually for the past half-century; Animal Collective were the first to coin the term "visual album" with their 53 minute film that doubled as the only way fans could access the soundtrack; Beyoncé's Lemonade is without a doubt, the new standard for visual albums and a realization of the true potential of the format)
    • found: Roffman, M. Five more visual albums we'd like to see, via Consequence of sound website, Aug. 19, 2016, viewed Mar. 30, 2017 (Late Thursday night, Frank Ocean surreptitiously dropped his followup album to 2012's Channel Orange. After four years of waiting impatiently for the damn thing, it just all of a sudden materialized from the Upside Down in Apple Music. Except, it's not really an album, but a "visual album" -- a short film that spans 45 minutes and 51 seconds and showcases 18 tracks; in April, Beyoncé broke the Internet when she dropped her own visual album on HBO, which she followed up by premiering the actual music on Tidal shortly after. She did something similar years before with her 2013 eponymous album, only that one was broken out into individual music videos rather than one full-length film)
    • notfound: Grove music online, Mar. 30, 2017
  • General Notes

    • Music albums that feature narratively or stylistically cohesive longform music videos.
  • Change Notes

    • 2017-03-30: new
    • 2017-06-08: revised
  • Alternate Formats

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