Since my first post giving people a heads-up about the Concept Album Challenge, I’ve had comments both here and at Facebook about what albums need to be considered. What these people didn’t read is that there are actually criteria. All submissions must address the criteria.
Yep, you read that right. Criteria. Scared yet? lol.
Here are the submission requirements:
- Think carefully about each criterion, and draft your response (do it in a separate place than here, just in case you experience errors)
- Provide examples with your response, wherever possible and logical
- Re-read your submission and make sure you addressed everything
- Copy and paste your submission into the form at the bottom of the page.
1. You must include the ARTIST, the ALBUM TITLE, and the YEAR OF RELEASE. If you were a member of the band, YOU MUST STATE THIS.
This is for identification and filing purposes, obviously. Also, stating that you were part of the creation helps me determine whether or not you might be talking your album up. Sad, but people do it more often than you might think. (hmmm there’s a Music Industry Mores column in that!…)
2. The album must have a unifying concept.
This is pretty obvious, no? But you must note that whatever album you submit is competing for the title of best ever done, against Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime. Therefore, a basic concept is not enough. It must make sense as a whole and as individual tracks. It will preferably tell a story, but we’ll get to that.
3. It must be well-conceived, and excellently written (lyrically)
Whatever the concept underlying the album is, it must needs tell a story. But it can’t just be any shitty old story: it must be well-written, such that the story alone is compelling, evolves and develops, and comes to a conclusion. There may be as many characters, crises, peaks and troughs as the story requires, but they must exist. As the saying goes, a story without characters is not a story.
Similarly, the story must have a sense of timelessness about it. Mindcrime is as relevant now as it was when it was written – and is likely to remain so into the future. All classic literatures are such, and just because a story is portrayed musically, it doesn’t mean that the ‘text’ isn’t literature.
4. It must be well-developed and well-written (musically)
The reason that Queensryche’s album works so well is that the musical structure follows the story impeccably. Not only does the story have to be compelling, so too does the musical reflection of that story. It must move the listener through the emotional journey of the story. For that reason, any concept album that doesn’t do this sufficiently (i.e. relies on sound effects for atmosphere or to create ‘concept’ instead, of creating the experience musically) simply cannot be a contender.
5. Its execution must be as close to flawless as possible
Yep, this means that problems in production, sound, or other issues, are likely to count against you.
6. It must be adaptable to other formats
At its essence, Mindcrime is a rock opera. Queensryche demonstrated this by the performance Mindcrime at the Moore, now an infamous audiovisual recording. Can the concept album you are submitting be adapted, without being changed, to stage or film? Are the story and the music, together, enough to make an adaptation work? Think carefully about this. It is partly why Mindcrime is the amazing recording it is.
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