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Is prog opposed to the idea of hit songs?

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paganinio View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 06 2019 at 20:42
I put some thought into this question. In a prog rock album, you can have a radio friendly ďhitĒ song somewhere on the album, either the beginning, middle, or the end. An example would be Pink Floydís Comfortably Numb (in the middle of The Wall album).

I feel that although itís a perfectly suitable song to be released as a hit single, just like the hit singles in pop and alternative rock genres, it loses a lot of its power and drive when you listen to it as a single.

As a hit single, itís still good, but the context is missing. What happens before the song? What happens next? Itís like watching an individual scene from a movie. No matter how good the scene is, itís not a complete experience.

Iím not only talking about story-based albums or concept albums. I think all prog albums, concept album or not, have a natural flow from the beginning to end. Taking a hit single from the album, is interrupting the flow.

It seems that the full potential of prog songs are only realized when they are being heard within the context of an album (this can be a studio album or a live album).

Prog music cannot compete with pop, dance, hip hop, and alternative rock genres, because our music market is dominated by radio play, YouTube video views, music video rotations on TV. All of these formats require that the artist provides a strong hit single. The prog genre is unable to give them a hit single, because thatís not the intended way for this music to be consumed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote siLLy puPPy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 06 2019 at 21:37
Yes and thank god for it. And that's coming from someone who loves pop music as well.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ForestFriend Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 06 2019 at 22:17
Do you mean prog bands, or prog listeners? I don't think most bands are against the idea of having a hit - although I most prog bands be against compromising their music for the sake of commercial appeal. And of course, a lot of prog listeners will criticize a band for creating something poppy, whether or not the band was intentionally trying to make a hit or not.

As far as the idea about a song having to be experience only within the confines of its original album... I don't really think that theory has anything to do with whether or not a band is prog or not. If you listen to a certain group of songs in a certain order, that order is going to be ingrained in your mind, and for some, it may seem jarring hearing that song in a different order or context. Never mind the fact that very few bands, even prog, exclusively play entire albums live - so obviously the natural flow of their album is not at all sacred to them. And in all likelihood, the material wasn't written in order and the order of the album was probably decided relatively late in the creative process (except for concept albums).

Let's be honest, the only reason prog doesn't make many hit singles is because prog artists like to make songs that are too long or too weird for the radio.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King of Loss Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 06 2019 at 22:21
Close to the Edge is the prog idea of a hit song! Embarrassed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 06 2019 at 23:00
No. If it was opposed to it you wouldn't have had lucky man, karn evil 9, roundabout, hocus pocus, I know what I like, wonderous stories, long distance runaround, living in the past, aqualung, money, time, wish you were here, follow you follow me and dozens of others.

Edited by AFlowerKingCrimson - August 06 2019 at 23:01
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 00:04
It's well know that some bands didn't release singles in the seventies , Led Zep being the obvious one , but many did.

There are so many great rock and prog single releases and they certainly help popularise the genre.

In terms of context there are clearly many songs that can exist 'on their own and be appreciated seperately.
For instance ELP released Lucky Man and From The Beginning in the US and both made the billboard top 50 so they were 'hits'. Neither song sits within a story or needs any context.

Another one is Arthur Brown 'Fire'. That was part of a concept album about a man's descent into hell. As a single it works brilliantly but if you want to plough through a whole load of late sixties weirdness to get there then you have that option. Does that make it better when you get there? I'm not sure but to me probably not.

The thing I normally don't like is when long tracks are edited but even that's not a rule in my book. I actually like the single edit of Watcher Of The Skies although can't say its better. Prog fans in general will always prefer the longer version of a track!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote paganinio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 00:21
Thanks for mentioning Lucky Man and I Know What I Like and Follow You Follow Me.

These examples help a lot.

It helps me listen to the music because I often have time for only one song.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 01:16
Originally posted by King of Loss King of Loss wrote:

Close to the Edge is the prog idea of a hit song! Embarrassed

Came here to say this LOL.


Owner of a Lonely Heart isn't prog enough?! LOL
Lying on the hill; crawling over the windowsill into your living room...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 01:19
Most of the times singles are a way to promote an album, otherwise no-one knows the album exists.

Even the Snow Goose was released as a single. And Mike Oldfield wrote singles to promote his conceptalbums.

There's a difference however etween singles released asca promotional single by the recordcompany and singles especially written to becomeca hit.

Bands like Queen and Saga and 10CC really wanted their singles to become hitsingles.

Most lesser known progbands like Camel and Gentle Giant didnt really care. They were even unable to actually write a decent popsong.

Also: i really dont like single edits, no matter how great the song. A single is supposed to be 3 / 4 minutes and most of the times they cut the intro or guitarsolo etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 01:34
Originally posted by Kingsnake Kingsnake wrote:



Most lesser known progbands like Camel and Gentle Giant didnt really care. They were even unable to actually write a decent popsong.


I'd argue GG is one of the few prog bands capable of writing a pop song, and you can tell they got sick of prog toward the end with the last couple albums.

Those songs aren't amazing but to claim GG was incapable of writing a decent pop song is a stretch. Mountain Time is catchy as hell (same with For Nobody, I Lost My Head, etc.) and could have easily been a radio hit. If anything those guys were just smart and knew what they wanted to do. That's different than being incapable, especially at the level of skill GG displays.


Edited by Frenetic Zetetic - August 07 2019 at 01:35
Lying on the hill; crawling over the windowsill into your living room...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 01:42
The label just wants to make money. As long as an artist makes money purely releasing albums on the strength of their name (Led Zeppelin, mid-seventies Yes, Mike Oldfield, mid-seventies Jethro Tull, mid-seventies King Crimson) then the recordlabel won't mind.

Most of these bands released a lot of singles in their early days (Yes, Tull) to become well-known bands. When they were established they could release Thick as a Brick, Tales from Topographic Oceans, etc.

When disco and then punk and then new wave and then hairmetal and then grunge and then raprock and then indierock etc. were the taste of everyone, a lot of bands tried to write songs in those genres because the wanted a hitsingle or their label forced them to do so.

When progrockbands were dropped by the majors, they couldn't care less and stopped trying to be hip.

Did you know that even IQ were on a major once? They even released a couple of singles in the mid-to-late eigthies. Even Twelfth Night released one album on a major.

Problem is: most prog is meant to be difficult and are long extended songs with lots of solos and tempochanges and what not. Most progrocksongs are not suitable for singlerelease.

Bands that actually wrote lite-prog that are suitable for singlerelease are regarded as poprock instead of actual progrock (Queen, Saga, Toto, Boston, It Bites, Asia, Journey, etc.)

On top of that I think the well-known progrock-bands released more singles than we actually realize.
Just take a look at the bottom of the discography. Bands like Tull, Floyd, Genesis and Yes released a multitude of singles and even had smash-hits.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 01:46
Originally posted by Frenetic Zetetic Frenetic Zetetic wrote:

Originally posted by Kingsnake Kingsnake wrote:



Most lesser known progbands like Camel and Gentle Giant didnt really care. They were even unable to actually write a decent popsong.


I'd argue GG is one of the few prog bands capable of writing a pop song, and you can tell they got sick of prog toward the end with the last couple albums.

Those songs aren't amazing but to claim GG was incapable of writing a decent pop song is a stretch. Mountain Time is catchy as hell (same with For Nobody, I Lost My Head, etc.) and could have easily been a radio hit. If anything those guys were just smart and knew what they wanted to do. That's different than being incapable, especially at the level of skill GG displays.

I even think that Missing Piece and Civilian could have been better known, if they had proper promotion.
They were on of the few indeed to crossover to other styles very easily (like Queen and 10cc).

Is should've left Gentle Giant out of the equation. They just had bad promotion. An album like Civilian could have been as big as 90125.

Maybe Eloy was a better example. Towards the eigthies they released a couple of singles and none of them charted.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 02:03
I'm really not convinced that any music fan enjoying the following is hearing them out of some fanciful 'context':
Lucky Man, Roundabout, Sylvia, Living in the Past, Spirit of the Radio, Silver Machine, Devil's Answer, Nights in White Satin, Dreamer, See Emily Play, Kayleigh etc (the list goes on)

Might be a different story if the song is heavily edited down from a much longer version (America, Fanfare for the Common Man) or divorced from a concept album (e.g. Another Brick in the Wall)

Catchy choruses and memorable hooks in Prog that lead to a chart placing are a feature, not a bug.

Only Moshkito is vehemently opposed to hit songs Wink (cue impenetrable critique of the entire PA membership apart from Pedro himself)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kingsnake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 02:44
^ Kayleigh is heavily editted. The guitarsolo is almost non-existing in the radio-edit. 😒
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frankh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 03:00
Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

It's well know that some bands didn't release singles in the seventies , Led Zep being the obvious one


Mighty Zep sure did release 70's singles. Whole Lotta Love may have hit the market in 1969 but it was charting into 1970.

I recall Dyer Maker subsequently and All Of My Love as well.

There may have been others.

Whole Lotta Love changed my Top 40 perception paradigm.

lol

Edited by Frankh - August 07 2019 at 05:18
Perhaps finding the happy medium is harder than we know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Anders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 04:23
But that's not particularily a prog thing, is it? The moment that an album is created as a unified art form, its individual songs or pieces will necessarily carry a certain meaning in the context of that album that they wouldn't carry otherwise.

Opera arias is basically the same story. They may be sung individually at festival concerts and things like that, but they are meant to be part of a whole opera.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jeffro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 04:33
Originally posted by paganinio paganinio wrote:

I think all prog albums, concept album or not, have a natural flow from the beginning to end. Taking a hit single from the album, is interrupting the flow.

While it is true that prog and hit single don't really go well together and while it is also true that some albums should be listened to as complete albums and not single songs, it's a huge stretch to say what you said above. There are tons of non-concept prog albums that do not flow as you suggest. I'd have to imagine that there are even some concept albums that don't flow like that either. 

Your Comfortably Numb example is interesting because a prog fan and a PF fan would probably look at it the same way, but someone who only knows that song from the radio and has never heard the whole album probably wouldn't feel that way at all. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 07:23
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

...
Only Moshkito is vehemently opposed to hit songs Wink (cue impenetrable critique of the entire PA membership apart from Pedro himself)

Not really ... I think these words are a misinterpretation of my meaning, and it just makes it clear that you are not sure what I am really about. I'm opposed to the mechanism that thinks that hit songs is the only way for any band to make it, and succeed.  And a Top Ten, reinforces the old school of selling and making sure that the record company that owns that song, can make some money ... which these days, DOES NOT reflect the truth as much as we give it credit for ... the fact of the matter is that inventing a way to create a top ten, makes it look like you are with it, and on top of the "news" about which song is better than the one from yesterday!

WE ARE, HERE, IN A PROGRESSIVE MUSIC BOARD. 

None of the music that became known as "progressive" was ORIGINALLY known as famous or had a top ten hit ... their work was a revolution against the commercial pull of radio, and this was EXTREMELY VISIBLE IN AMERICA, DURING THE EARLY FM RADIO DAYS, WHEN IT WAS INDEPENDENT.  When the FM stations in America started being bought out by the commercial interests, it only took another year or two and the "invasion" of European music ended, just about over night! These groups were there to promote THEIR PRODUCT, not yours. That is the form of commercial work and advertising ... it was always like that ... but we do not give a duck today about that at all ... in fact, we kiss it and help their butt stay clean! Confused

Hit songs, happen, sometimes, regardless of the situation ... even the American AM radio played things that they didn't like, but took steps to fix it ... ex: PF's Money was a big hit ... but too long for AM radio and it had a bad word. So they cut the song in half (some middle parts removed), hid the bad word, and played it ... under 3 minutes worth ... and it did fine as a single, too! But PF did not have the ability at the time to say ... you can't do that and remove it from the air! Another, even more famous song, was The Doors, whose first hit "Light My Fire" also had a single that was cut in half from the original! Jim Morrison did not like that at all!

The main issue with the OP's comment, is that he/she has no idea what PROG was all about in those early days ... it was an ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT thing that was trying to make a point about music, that today, too many folks misinterpret as the start of something else ... which is not quite true. Some songs were longer, and some had different music feelings and designs, and the like ... but today, no one can even consider the difference and how so many different things could be appreciated and remembered ... they were NOT hits as it were per se, and in fact, many things were not respected until a bit later, when the band got a bit more respect, and by then, they could do no wrong ... 

Hit Songs, is what "progressive music" was against. What bothers me, is that a lot of the admins that run this place are not even smart enough to stand up for that idea and concept and instead take on the populist role ... which they don't even believe in anyway ... to make sure they can say something stupid about Mosh ... Mosh is NOT the problem ... the lack of respect for a lot of the music that became "progressive" by many Admins, in lieu of their "favorite songs" is the problem ... 

DAMN IT guys and gals ... PROGRESSIVE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN AROUND IF IT WERE ABOUT THE HIT SONGS OF THE DAY. So after all that, how do you think they made it? Because it was excellent music ... and today, because you see they stood up and lived, now you can not reconcile the fact that they did not have a "hit" on the radio to make it!

I am just disappointed that so many ADMIN's in this board have no idea what they are trying to support, and I think that they will kill it all because of this lack of knowledge and appreciation to the music ... they keep on trying to KILL PROGRESSIVE MUSIC, because they can only support hits! And almost NONE of them can stand up and say ... ohhh ... that was bad ... we need to improve on that ... and until the day that this happens, I'm not sure that the life of "Progressive Music" or "Prog" can survive long enough to get some respect ... it already doesn't here, because tomorrow it won't be a hit anymore! And too many of the folks here don't care and try to shoot blanks into a fart!
... none of the hits, none of the time ... now try finding your own mirror/art! www.pedrosena.com
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 07:34
Originally posted by Jeffro Jeffro wrote:

...
Your Comfortably Numb example is interesting because a prog fan and a PF fan would probably look at it the same way, but someone who only knows that song from the radio and has never heard the whole album probably wouldn't feel that way at all. 

In the case of the radio in Santa Barbara, and possibly LA, it was COMFORTABLY NUMB that sold the whole album. After that it was HEY YOU, and a couple of months later ... the song about the brick on the wall. The album, even by the standards in Santa Barbara, was given a ... wow ... a lot of really weird and stupid stuff in there, until parts of it broke up those cynics. The last "song" to make the album a bona fide HIT, was "Run Like Hell" which was a monster play in LA.

But PF, is a really bad example of "prog" or "progressive" and I'm not sure I would use it for that ... and THE WALL, was way after the whole thing had already started and was almost "gone" according to some folks that could not listen to anything but hits, to see that other bands in other countries had just as good, if not better, material! Tongue
... none of the hits, none of the time ... now try finding your own mirror/art! www.pedrosena.com
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2019 at 09:01
Originally posted by moshkito moshkito wrote:


I am just disappointed that so many ADMIN's in this board have no idea what they are trying to support, and I think that they will kill it all because of this lack of knowledge and appreciation to the music ... they keep on trying to KILL PROGRESSIVE MUSIC, because they can only support hits!
 
That seems a bit harsh.
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