Op-Ed: Oversaturating songs on albums lessens quality

Cameron Johnson, Reporter

Music has always been a primary source for me to zone out on long drives, zone in while working out, or most importantly to express how I’m feeling in a particular moment. With that being said I’ve come a long way since buying explicit songs on my family’s shared iTunes account without my parents’ permission. As a college student it is invaluable to have the ability to access practically every song ever recorded on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, to which I’ve had subscriptions to all three.

I am certainly not an expert music reviewer, but over the years I have developed the ability to appreciate music that has been noticeably labored over with obvious artistic value. At the same time, I frequently find myself listening to “slaps” with mesmerizing beats. I consider my favorite type of music to be hip-hop and several of the relevant artists in the genre are known to dabble in both well thought out and formulaic songs alike.

An album’s themes and messages are usually telltale signs of whether you’re listening to an artist’s inner thoughts or a compilation of songs made for a night-club. But being as invested in music as I am, I’ve noticed a recent trend in the length of albums and it directly reflects in the content of the album.

Artists have begun to over saturate their albums with lengthy tracklists and the quality of these bodies of work have taken deadly hits. Artist Swae Lee of rap group Rae Sremmurd explained that their three-sided compilation album that runs 27 songs long titled “SR3MM”, “Swaecation”, and “Jxmtro” is an artistic venture that is groundbreaking in nature. In reality, artists are loading up their albums for one reason: streams.

In 2012, Billboard began counting what they call “on demand streams” from services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal towards the Hot 100 for songs and Top 200 for album sales. Artists have quickly learned that the more songs they put on an album, the more streams they get, which ultimately leads to more money. According to Billboard, 1500 streams of a song equates to one album sale. Drake’s latest album “Scorpion” had 25 songs with a run time of an hour and thirty minutes. But how many of the songs actually have replay value? Only the ones that top the charts.

Drake’s hit single “God’s Plan” has 991,940,870 streams on Spotify. And that number will only continue to grow.

The bottom line is artists are crowding their albums with unnecessary songs while the popular songs actually do the heavy lifting. The quality of the music on albums like “Culture 2” from Migos is being sacrificed for the sake of the album topping the chart, and that’s just wrong.

Kanye West broke the formula this summer when he worked on four albums at just seven songs each. The quality of these albums is better than those of larger quantities, but they undoubtedly will require more repeat listens to top the charts.

At the end of the day, most people will listen to their favorite songs from new albums without considering how it will benefit the artist, and that’s the way it is supposed to be. However, someone like me who overanalyzes these things, I hate to see the decline in quality albums. It’s not every day we get albums like Blonde from Frank Ocean or DAMN from Kendrick Lamar. What’s most important is people are discovering new music more than ever before. One’s taste in music is meant to be stretched and tested. You never know what that next trip to Spotify will bring.