Yes, indeed! Vinyl records have made a comeback and are experiencing a second youth. You just have to take a stroll through some of the most recognized record stores in Colombia to find at least one display filled with vinyl records.
In today’s immense digital era, no one imagined that these records would return to the summit, but now it’s a reality. In the 90s, with the rise of compact discs, the reissue of vinyl records became a tradition. It has become a collector’s format for the nostalgics. Want to learn more about these 80s vinyl records? Keep reading!
What are vinyl records?
Let’s start our article by explaining what vinyl records are. It’s an interesting question on this musical nostalgia journey. A vinyl record is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) disc. It was created with concentric grooves on which a needle moves to transmit vibrations that are amplified and sent to the speakers. The dimensions of a vinyl record are 30 cm for albums and 18 cm for singles. Now that you know what vinyl records are, we’ll explain how a vinyl record works.
How does a vinyl record work?
Vinyl records work by spinning on a device called a turntable, commonly known as a record player. A needle on the turntable moves through the grooves printed on the record and reads them. This reading generates an electric signal transferred to an amplifier.
Vinyl record: its history
In this section, we’ll talk about the history of the vinyl record. Its origin dates back to 1940 when Columbia Records and RCA started using this format to achieve better sound quality.
In 1948, Columbia introduced the LP format, much faster than the previous format. It could contain 45 minutes of sound between sides A and B. This was a significant advancement in the music world. Notably, musicians could record what they wanted and arrange the songs to their liking, popularizing the format.
In 1949, it was RCA’s turn. This famous record label introduced a 45 revolutions per minute (RPM) record that offered 15 minutes of sound on both sides. Although it didn’t have the capacity of the LP, it became the standard format for a single.
In the following years, these types of records dominated the market, and most influential music artists and bands started using them. However, in the 80s, cassettes and compact discs emerged. Consequently, vinyl records were considered obsolete, and their popularity declined.
The resurgence of vinyl records
In decline, many started using vinyl records for decoration, under plant pots, and even for clocks made from vinyl records. However, in the last decade and against all expectations, vinyl record sales have increased significantly.
This is confirmed by the latest data recording industry revenues. Sales have surpassed one billion dollars so far this century. It’s unlikely that these records will become the dominant medium again, but there’s no doubt that they are a symbol of nostalgia for vinyl record collectors.
Vinyl records return – data and studies
Yes! Vinyl records are making a comeback. It’s true that we transitioned from the Vinyl Era to the Digital Era. Nevertheless, vinyl records have experienced an impressive resurgence in recent years.
Many lovers of this format believe that the sound quality it offers is superior to any other. They argue that, being an analog format, it can capture nuances and details lost in the compression of digital music. But how true is that? Is it true that it sounds better than digital formats?
The storage capacity of a vinyl record is more limited than a conventional CD. They record absolutely all the sound information of the musical event, with all its harmonics and high frequencies. In contrast, a CD loses part of this information due to digital sampling.
In general terms
Vinyl records have a higher level of dynamic range compression than other formats. This is due to the way the grooves on the surface of the record have to be recorded, which is limited in depth and width. This causes the subtlety and differentiation between louder and softer sounds to be lost. In contrast, digital formats can better recreate the original dynamic range of a recording, with better management of high frequencies. Additionally, they are better at transferring the original master without any retouching.
Best-selling vinyl records in history
Currently, many bands seek to transform their records into this format to be called collectibles. The consumption of these musical materials belongs mostly to the great works. This benefits the artists and also helps preserve this format. Among the famous vinyl records are the following:
1. Thriller by Michael Jackson
Our list is topped by the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson with his iconic album “Thriller.” It was released in 1980 as his sixth album with immediate success that won international awards.
Thanks to Thriller, the “King of Pop” set the record for the most Grammys won in a single edition, with 8 awards in 1984. To this day, it remains the best-selling album of all time.
2. Back in Black by AC/DC
The album “Back in Black” contains the rock anthem. Its lyrics and sound in the 1980s became a reference for the global concept that rock represented. It is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Some of the hits from this album have been used as entrance themes for baseball team pitchers and in crucial scenes of movies. They have even been chosen to accompany astronauts on the journey aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft in 2020.
3. The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd
With the album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” recorded in 1973, Pink Floyd became one of the most famous bands worldwide. The quality of their music makes it one of the best-selling vinyl records year after year. This is an epic album, not only for its worldwide popularity but also for the exquisite sound design.
4. Yesterday and today by The Beatles
Another record-breaking vinyl collection is The Beatles’ vinyl albums. Among them is the album “Yesterday and Today.” It is the ninth album by The Beatles released in June 1966. This record is especially remembered for the controversy its cover generated.
The cover featured the band dressed in white aprons and surrounded by decapitated dolls and pieces of meat, which was censored. Five days after its release, the album appeared with a new cover where The Beatles posed simply next to a trunk. Many think it is a statement against the Vietnam War.
Despite this controversy, the band earned millions of dollars. The song is one of the biggest hits in radio history. Experts predict that the earnings from this song are close to 30 million dollars. Can you imagine how much a Beatles vinyl record is worth?
5. A Night at the Opera by Queen
Beatles vinyl records, along with Queen vinyl records, are absolutely among the most bought and sought-after in the world of LPs. Without a doubt, Queen is one of the most successful groups in the history of music.
“A Night at the Opera” is their fourth album and for many has become the turning point for success. This was and still is a very significant work for fans of the British group, as it contains the first extraordinary hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
In fact, it was an extraordinary commercial success. From its release as a single in the first two weeks in Britain, more than 150,000 copies had been sold.
6. The Beatles (White Album) by The Beatles
Another success by The Beatles is “The Beatles (White Album),” also known as the “White Album” in the Hispanic world. This is the band’s tenth album and is in the top 10 of sales of old vinyl records.
The first copy of this vinyl was owned by the British musician Ringo Starr. This double album from 1968 was kept in a bank safe deposit box and was auctioned for almost €800,000.
7. 30 by Adele
Among Adele’s best-selling vinyl records is “30.” It is a spectacular album where all the songs tell a story. The Londoner has dominated the global production of vinyl. In 2021, there was a significant increase in vinyl sales, thanks in part to the success of this recent album by Adele.
Her album “30” sold 108,000 copies in its first week, the second-largest vinyl sales week since 1991. It is also part of those top-selling vinyl albums.
8. The Eminem Show by Eminem
“The Eminem Show” is Eminem’s most played and best-selling vinyl record of the decade in the United States. The American rapper Eminem released a limited edition box set that includes 10 of his records in vinyl format.
But not much time had passed since the announcement of its sale when they were already completely sold out. Eminem is one of the most listened-to artists in the rap genre, and many of his songs are sampled. In fact, he is on the list of the most famous samples: the most sampled songs in history!
9. The Bodyguard by Whitney Houston
“The Bodyguard” by Whitney Houston is the soundtrack for the movie of the same name. It is considered the best-selling soundtrack album of all time.
On the 30th anniversary of the release of “The Bodyguard,” Houston released it on vinyl. In addition to being the best-selling soundtrack album of all time, it is also the best-selling “Female Artist Album of All Time.”
10. Divide by Ed Sheeran
The EFE agency reported that British musician Ed Sheeran was the artist who sold the most albums worldwide in 2017. He is considered the “Best-Selling Global Artist” of that year and reflects the “unprecedented record success” of his third vinyl album, “Divide.”
This famous album is one of the most sought after by collectors. Additionally, it is in the number 2 position on the “Top Artists Most Listened to on Spotify.”
Curiosities about vinyl records
Despite being an invention with more than a century of history, vinyl records are more alive than ever. Many fans are aware of everything related to this remembered vinyl. If you are one of them, here are some facts you should know:
– In 1970, records of different colors started to appear: red, green, yellow, transparent, multicolored. Many of them with the label “Limited Edition for Collectors.”
– The first vinyl record was recorded by Enrico Caruso in 1902, being at that time the most famous opera singer in the world.
– In the first half of 2015, up to 9 million vinyl records were sold.
– The musical genre with the highest number of vinyl records is rock.
Finally, the most expensive vinyl record is the album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” by Wu-Tang Clan, whose only copy was bought for 2 million dollars.
Nostalgia, sound, and art
Musical nostalgia has taken over every generation. Nowadays, vinyl is present in the preference of collectors, music lovers, and memory enthusiasts. This has allowed the vinyl industry to remain strong over the years.
Undoubtedly, for many, it possesses a warm and nostalgic sound that you won’t find in digital music. If, in addition to enjoying the good sound of vinyl, you like to create music, visit this post, “Chrome music lab, create your own songs!”