Albums in the age of the algorithmic playlist

Today I listened to the Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness from beginning to end. The two-disc album has more than two hours of music spread across 28 tracks. This album was one of the musical staples of my college years. I bought a second-hand copy of it on my way freshman orientation and listened to it throughout my undergrad. The album has some amazing hits, some strange lyrics, some hidden gems, some bad songs, and even one that can only be described as musical malpractice. When you listen to the full album you get everything the band had to offer at one particular moment in its history.

Listening to a band’s playlist or radio station on services like Pandora and Spotify will get you the hits from throughout their career. However, you will miss out on the many songs that make a band what they are. I don’t listen to many to albums from beginning to end anymore, and I don’t know many people who do. In this age of Spotify’s smart playlists, themed radio stations, and algorithmic DJs, you can listen to hours of back-to-back hits. But I think I’m missing out on something important when I listen that way. There is a lot of value in hearing a full album in the order the artist chose.

There were so many albums that defined my teens and early 20s. I think it might be time to go back to listen to my favorite bands’ albums in their intended order. Playlists give me the hits, but I feel like I’m missing out on the depth and variety of music that my favorite musicians have produced over the years.

You might want to try it too. I am certain that there is more to [insert your favorite band name here] than their “best of” compilation would suggest.