Music: A New Medium of Marathoning

By Meagan Holung:

Ritualistically, when a favorite artist or band releases a new mixtape or album, my roommates are the first to download it.  After the download, they plug in whatever device (cell phone, mp3 player, laptop, etc.) they’ve brought the album to through Airdrop or iCloud.

The beginning of the process to marathon an album reminds me of the course of actions taken to marathon a television show.

When someone is seeking out a new television show or movie series on the Internet they will either stream it through an outlet such as Netflix or Hulu, or they will use some type of free download. The same goes for albums. My roommates will either buy the album from iTunes or search for a download somewhere on the web.

Now that they have the album, whichever device it is stored on will be plugged into the living room speakers. Here comes the part that is very similar to marathoning a show. Now that the audio is set up, it is time for them to raid the kitchen for snacks and a drink, plop down on the couch and immerse every piece of themselves song after song.

It is pretty self-explanatory how this act of marathoning music albums is quite similar to marathoning television shows, books, or a series of movies. There are even albums out there that are trilogies such as Green Day’s first of three albums, “Uno”.

I decided to take part in the album listening experience when artist Frank Ocean released his album, Channel Orange. I was not thinking about how the experience related to marathoning because I did not know that such a thing had even existed at the time, but now that I think back, Channel Orange evoked emotions that I know would not be possible without marathoning the album. The marathoning experience provides a fluidity that links each song to the next and allows the listener to understand the highs and lows the artist felt while the songs were being written.

I asked a friend why he think it is important to marathon a new album and he said, “listening to each song until the album is over and in the order that the artist placed them, can tell you a lot about an artist, their creativity and feelings about life most of the time. Being able to turn it up, transport, and enjoy the bliss is an amazing and relaxing feeling.”

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10 thoughts on “Music: A New Medium of Marathoning

  1. I think you have really tapped into a different part of media marathoning. A person can become as addicted to music just as much as any other type of medium. It’s true that when I find a new band that I really like, I listen to their album over and over again. Also, I usually research their past music and buy that, as well. This happened to me over the semester reading days. A friend gave me a Belle & Sebastian album, and I loved it. I listened to it on repeat during the three hour drive between my house and Naz. I listened to it every day for a week, and the songs would not get out of my head. Now I am in the process of finding out about the band’s other albums. I’m sure I’ll be marathoning those over Thanksgiving and Winter break. Just like with marathoning TV shows or movies, I think that binging on music is a result of finding personal connection with the band. I marathon Parks and Recreation because I genuinely like the character of Leslie Knope, and I marathon music when I feel a link between myself and the artist.

  2. This is a very interesting concept, one that I have never really thought about. I think listening to an artists’ album over and over and listening to an old album before listening to their latest release definitely is a type of media marathoning. While I do have my favorite bands, I feel that I more so connect to an individual song(s) as opposed to an artist’s full album. I don’t think I have ever listened to an album in order, all the way through and that is why I feel that I never considered it marathoning, But for those people who do do that, I definitely see the connection and as Rachel stated, you tapped into a very unique part of media marathoning. I think I will now go listen to one my my favorite albums in chronological order and all the way through.

  3. I am a huge music lover and am guilty of marathoning albums as well. When a new album releases, I purchase it on iTunes, “hibernate” with it (my terminology for doing nothing but listening to the album 1-3 times through), and then engage in as many paratexts as possible. Before I went to see Young the Giant in Canada last winter I made sure I did my homework beforehand. This involved listening to the record multiple times in order to learn every lyric, researching song meanings for each track, giving the band website an extensive read through, looking up the history of the band, and watching an obnoxious amount of interviews to get “a feel” for who the band members really are. I use this same process before any live show that I attend. When I try to think of the motivations for this pre-show process of mine, they are almost identical to my motivations with TV rituals. I want to feel like I know the band members (actors) in some way and I have a compulsive need to know everything there is to know about the band and its history (the show and its history). I feel a sense of accomplishment through learning from those paratexts.

  4. I’m really glad you brought this up because I was thinking the same thing when I first started the semester taking this class. When we defined what media marathoning was it excluded music but I couldn’t help but think how relatabe and immersed I found myself in a lot of musicians albums. This weekend I was visiting my friends in Maryland; as I was driving down, I spent five hours marathoning Taylor Swift’s newly released album, “Red”. I have done with was all of her albums; it’s so interesting how you relate to the fictional characters (or not so fictional) and the stories being told in her songs just like we do while marathoning TV shows and movies. I did this also when Lil’ Wayne’s mixtapes “No Ceilings” and “I Am Not a Human Being” last year as well as a bunch of country artists. Like my favorite TV shows and movies I choose, I follow different genres and artists/actors that I most relate to or am interested in. So when I found out the release date of Taylor Swift’s album I had to go out and purchase the CD to see what it had to offer and how these stories related to me. I found myself completely transported in her new songs as I drove this weekend. Just like a show or movie, musicians too can paint a picture with their storyworlds.

  5. It never dawned on me that music can be marathoned, too. It has obvious emotional value, there may be some “guilt” involved in listening/not listening to certain artists or albums, it’s easily to indulge oneself in massive quantities, and there can even be complex narratives in concept albums. The Dear Hunter, for example, has released three albums chronicling one man’s journey to find his parents, with each act throwing a new twist into the story. Listening to an artist’s entire discography does help me see how the artist had grown over time, even if they don’t make albums revolving around one concept.

  6. This is definitely a very interesting concept and I had never really thought of music in terms of marathoning. However, like people are mentioning, it is something I do often and it really does help sometimes to listen to a whole album. For me, I find myself marathoning music when I’m in a certain mood. Some artists have songs that really reflect a certain attitude or emotion so if I find myself feeling similar, listening to song after song really fits. Also songs really do connect to each other sometimes, so to marathon an album is to catch something that can be easily overlooked by listening intermittently or in a random order.

  7. I love this idea! It’s something I do often as well. I think that it is so important to listen to an album all the way through at least once before just skipping to your favorite songs. However, I feel that this practice is something that has almost died out or is largely ignored by the masses. I think that like album artwork, listening to albums as a whole is something a lot of people don’t do. If they do listen to a full album it’s usually in a strange order, and I think that this is because of the invention of the ipod. You often hear people say “I have song ADD” or “I can’t listen to a full song through before switching it”. I wonder why this isn’t the case with TV and movies. Its almost unheard of to watch multiple episodes in small clips and be satisfied.

  8. It never occured to me that listening to a whole album was media marathoning. While I do sometimes marathon albums, it is not something that I set out to do, much like when unintentionally marathoning a tv series or a series of movies. I’ll purchase a new album and put it on to clean or while I’m doing something else. I will listen to it once or twice in the order that artist has set, then I will pick my favorite songs and just listen to those. As mentioned in the main post listening to a whole album at one time could be equated to a series of short stories and when I listen out of order or selectively, I could potentially be missing some of the story or changing the way it was meant to be understood, if infact there is a story to tell.

  9. I’ve done this before. When a favorite artist releases an album, I’ve marathoned their music. It is true that it gives you a sense of some kind of message the artist might be wanting to get across, for example the War album of 30 Seconds to Mars was a reflection of the band members struggles during the time of writing, but I will listen to it mostly to decide which of the songs I like and want to play the most. I do not do this as often as I marathon TV shows though. Honestly, the only times I will ever marathon music is for the bands Chevelle or 30 Seconds To Mars.
    I think TV shows are easier to get into and marathon more than music because TV absorbs sight and sound, where music only makes busy of one’s hearing. I would never search out for an album to tell me a story. If I grasp a story while I happen to be listening to it, ok, but TV shows and films are where I go to find a deep absorbing story that I can marathon.

  10. As of last weekend, I found myself marathoning Lana Del Rey’s album Born to Die. I know that we had this discussion last week in class, and still did not realize I was marathoning the CD until after I listened to it about three times in a row. I was in my car on my way home from work and thought “oh my god…im marathoning!!” it was kind of nerdly exciting. Now that I am thinking about it, I probably have marathoned so many CD’s by artist (especially around the Holidays..wink wink Rod Stewart) and don’t even realize it.

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