The Aesthetic of Vinyl

Yasmine Medjdoub

Vinyl paints a different sonic landscape than the sleek, infinite scroll of streaming. But which artists belong on a turntable, and which thrive in the digital ether? Does the format truly influence how we appreciate the music? Impact’s Yasmine Medjdoub explores the aesthetic clash between vinyl and streaming.

What is the vinyl aesthetic?

The needle dips, a gentle hiss fills the air, and the warmth of analogue washes over you. It’s an experience almost forgotten in the digital age, yet vinyl records are enjoying a remarkable resurgence. But is nostalgia driving this trend, or is something deeper at play? While vinyl’s history stretches back to the late 19th century, its aesthetic appeal seems more relevant than ever.

Vinyl is more than just a format; it’s an experience. Unlike the swipe of a digital track, vinyl invites us to immerse ourselves in the music entirely. The ritual of selecting a record, carefully placing it on the turntable, and witnessing the album art unfold can foster a deeper connection with the music. The larger artwork becomes a window into the artist’s vision and adds a layer of authenticity often absent in digital listening. Vinyl is often associated with classic eras like the 60s and 70s, evoking feelings of nostalgia and a simpler time, with genres like classic rock, jazz, and soul.

Owning a record is more than just owning music; it’s claiming a piece of history

This physicality extends beyond the act of listening. Vinyl records themselves are often adorned with stunning artwork and collectable variations. Rare pressings and limited editions become prized possessions, adding another dimension to the vinyl experience. Owning a record is more than just owning music; it’s claiming a piece of history, a physical connection to the artist and their vision.


Who suits the vinyl aesthetic?

Who do we picture when thinking of the vinyl aesthetic? Genres like jazz, blues, rock, classical, and even 70s/80s/90s pop come to mind. These genres often rely on organic instrumentation, layered textures, and subtle dynamics that shine through on vinyl. Certain iconic names instantly come to mind. Queen’s operative rock anthems, like Bohemian Rhapsody, practically explode off the turn table, their layered harmonies and bombastic production finding a perfect match in the format’s warmth. Looking beyond rock, vinyl conjures images of jazz clubs, and what artist can better embody this than Frank Sinatra? His smooth vocals and timeless melodies, whether on classics like My Way or Fly Me to the Moon, find a natural home on vinyl. The format captures the intimacy of his delivery and the subtle nuances of his arrangements, bringing the golden age of jazz into your living room.

But is vinyl merely a relic of the past? Absolutely not. Modern artists like Lana Del Rey and the Arctic Monkeys can be said to embrace the vinyl aesthetic. Lana Del Rey’s music is practically synonymous with the vinyl aesthetic. Her cinematic soundscapes, filled with vintage references and melancholic vocals, find a perfect home on vinyl. Albums like ‘Born to Die’ and ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean’s Blvd’ are meticulously crafted, with lush instrumentation and layered vocals that demand the richness of analogue sound and immerse listeners in a world of nostalgia and longing.

Vinyl allows them to showcase the nuances of vocals and the intricate interplay of their instruments

On the other hand, Arctic Monkeys bring a more raw and energetic approach to vinyl. Their gritty guitars and driving rhythms, exemplified in albums like ‘AM’ and ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,’ come alive on vinyl records. Vinyl allows them to showcase the nuances of vocals and the intricate interplay of their instruments, creating an immersive listening experience that digital formats cannot replicate. These are just two examples, but the list of artists embracing the vinyl aesthetic is growing. Vinyl is no longer just a relic of the past; it’s an immersive way to experience music in the modern age.

Ultimately, the vinyl aesthetic is about engagement and immersion. It’s about actively seeking out music, savouring it, and appreciating the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into every record. It’s a rebellion against the fleeting nature of digital consumption and a return to the days when music was an experience, not just a commodity.


The World of Spotify Streaming:

While vinyl thrives on tangibility and immersion, streaming music on Spotify paints a starkly different landscape. Its unparalleled convenience and accessibility are undeniable, offering instant gratification with a staggering library. No more rummaging through dusty crates or waiting for downloads; your desired song is just a tap away.

Think of it as a boundless musical ocean, where curated journeys guide you through remade playlists designed for every mood, activity, or genre imaginable. Want to re-live your teenage angst? Hit ‘Throwback Pop Mix.’ In the mood for romance? Dive into ‘Jazzy Romance.’ This discovery engine exposes you to many new artists, broadening your musical horizons effortlessly.

However, the nature of streaming comes with its own set of drawbacks. The ease of skipping tracks and jumping between playlists can lead to fleeting listening experiences, where the depth and nuance of an album are sacrificed for instant gratification. Unlike the physical presence of a vinyl record, Spotify’s music exists only in the digital realm, potentially diminishing the emotional connection and sense of ownership that comes with owning physical media.


Who Suits Spotify Streaming?

While the aesthetic of vinyl can often align with specific genres and artistic approaches, it’s important to remember that artists don’t inherently belong to one format or the other. Ultimately, the suitability for Spotify streaming depends more on the listening experience the artist aims to create and the audience they connect with. However, some aspects might make artists particularly suited to streaming:

Artists focused on singles rather than a full album: If an artist’s music thrives on catchy hooks and individual tracks rather than cohesive albums, the easily accessible and skippable nature of streaming can work in their favour.

Artist collaborations: If an artist collaborates with another artist, streaming allows them to connect with a broader audience easily and showcase their diverse collaborations. However, any artist within any genre or style can succeed on vinyl and streaming platforms.


Can an artist’s music aesthetic impact how their music should be played?

While an artist’s musical aesthetic certainly influences how they create music, the question of whether it dictates how it ‘should’ be played is complex and subjective.

Some artists create albums as cohesive works meant to be experienced as a whole. In these cases, the vinyl format, emphasising side lengths and sequenced listening, can align with the artist’s vision. Yet the artists that prioritise individual songs and shorter bursts of energy, streaming platforms, with ease of navigating and skipping, might better suit their artistic vision.

Ultimately, the ‘right’ way to experience music is personal. Exploring vinyl and streaming, considering the artist’s intention and your personal aesthetic preferences, is the best way to discover what resonates most with you.

Yasmine Medjdoub

Featured image courtesy of Kevin McCutcheon via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

For more content including news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features, sport and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.

If you can’t get enough of Impact Music, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates on our latest articles, and follow our Spotify to find playlists made by our very own writers.

EntertainmentMusicMusic Features

Leave a Reply