For decades, greatest hits albums were inescapable. They summed up artists’ careers, provided intros to unknown sounds, and served as a dependable cash-grab for labels that were able to resell music they had already paid for. But now? Seems like they’re more or less done for, killed by the infinite "playlistification" of all things (unless you're trying to make a retro statement...hello White Stripes!) We spend some thinking through what the greatest hits was, what it did, and what that might tell us about the art-form shaping format known as the album. ALSO—we talk through some of the most influential greatest hits albums of all time, from the Eagles to Bob Marley.
Further reading / listening:
A Major #Mood: Spotify, Labels, and our Dismal Streaming Future - Money 4 Nothing
Why the Death of the Greatest Hits Albums and reissues is Worth Mourning - Stephen Thomas Erlewine (Pitchfork)
The Great War Against Singles - Hit Parade (Slate)