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Top 10 Concept Albums

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Nathan Sharp. These albums are just like a good movie...only you know, with music. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our list of the top 10 concept albums. For this list, we're looking at concept albums that have received critical acclaim, fandom, and a lasting legacy. For those unaware, a concept album is an album that either tells a story throughout the album, or has unifying themes throughout, tying the songs together thematically. Special thanks to our users jackhammer, Progfan1969, SleapeeHed, Andreas Philippou, Raymond Leduc, Paul George Baines, Erazor251, xRespectXenon, Bubba142 and tecpaocelotl for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Nathan Sharp.

Top 10 Concept Albums


These albums are just like a good movie...only you know, with music. Welcome to Watchmojo.com, and today we're counting down our list of the top 10 concept albums.

For this list, we're looking at concept albums that have received critical acclaim, fandom, and a lasting legacy. For those unaware, a concept album is an album that either tells a story throughout the album, or has unifying themes throughout, tying the songs together thematically. Also, a theme has to be something complex or thought provoking, like Radiohead's "OK Computer", which means a group of love songs does not constitute a concept album. Sorry Taylor, you don't count.

#10: “Thick as a Brick” (1972)
Jethro Tull


Kicking off our list is the classic 1972 progressive rock album from Jethro Tull. The album presents a musical adaptation of an 8 year old fictional genius's poem. Of course, there is no real poem, as all the lyrics were penned by frontman Ian Anderson. Notable for including only one two-part song on the whole album, the 43 minute LP is a classic. Intended as a satire of overly-ambitious rock albums, this album proved a major success commercially and critically, even though many listeners missed the joke.


#9: "De-Loused in the Comatorium" (2003)
The Mars Volta


This album was the full length debut for progressive rock band The Mars Volta, and what a debut it was. This album is a musical adaptation of a short story written by lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and sound technician Jeremy Michael Ward about a man who falls into a coma after overdosing on morphine and rat poison. With Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea playing bass on the album, it became an instant success and appeared on many "best of" lists for 2003, showing that The Mars Volta would be a force to be reckoned with.

#8: "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" (1999)
Dream Theater


Yet another progressive rock entry, Dream Theater created a masterpiece with this album. Metropolis Pt. 2 is the sequel to a song on a previous record about the story of a man who discovers his past life. Heavily influenced by the 1991 film "Dead Again," and featuring some of the most complex song arrangements ever recorded, the album found its way into the heart of critics and audiences alike. Dream Theater created a classic with this 1999 album, which would go on to be voted the top progressive rock album of all time by the readers of Rolling Stone.

#7: "2112" (1976)
Rush


Hey, look, another progressive rock album! After heavy pressure from their record studio to release a radio-friendly album, Rush decided to ignore their orders and released 2112. Ironically, this would become the album that would be their breakthrough into the mainstream. The album tells the story of a man living in a dystopian society who is banished for discovering and playing music. Raw, powerful, and musically complex, it is still played live in concert to this day and is a serious fan favorite. Not too bad for three Canadian boys.

#6: "Operation: Mindcrime" (1988)
Queensrÿche


This album from progressive metal band Queensrÿche tells the powerful story of a drug addict who becomes disillusioned with society and becomes an assassin of political leaders. With a dark storyline matching its ferocious music, the album proved a success despite the heavy subject matter, going platinum in the US. It was also a critical success, and has since become known as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time, proving that metal and bleakness can still be acclaimed, despite what some people may think.

#5: "American Idiot" (2004)
Green Day


Ah, remember this album? It was impossible to go anywhere without hearing a track from this modern pop punk classic back in 2004. Going for a more musically diverse album than their previous ones, Green Day made an album about an antihero named Jesus of Suburbia who moves to the big city out of the hatred for small town life. Peaking at #1 in 19 countries and eventually selling over 15 million copies worldwide, the album proved to be a major success. The concept also inspired a stage adaptation of the same name, which has won itself a few Tony Awards.

#4: "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" (1972)
David Bowie


This glam rock album helped influence many of the other entries on this list, and is perhaps known as Bowie's finest moment. The album tells the story of Ziggy Stardust, an alien rock star who takes the form of a human and presents a message of hope in the last five years of Earth. Originally intended to be a soundtrack album for a companion stage production, the LP was a major hit in Bowie’s native country of England, achieving platinum status. It has since become known as one of the greatest albums of all time.

#3: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967)
The Beatles


This album took the world by storm in the summer of 1967, spending 27 weeks at #1 in England and 15 weeks in the US, eventually selling over 30 million copies. Paul McCartney had the idea to release an album as the fictional Sgt. Pepper band, giving them total creative freedom, a result which became revolutionary in music. Time magazine called it "a historic departure in the progress of music", and its lasting legacy is monumental, given the top spot in Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums ever list.

#2: "Tommy" (1969)
The Who


In the summer of 1969, The Who released this classic about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy as he navigates his way through life. While "Quadrophenia" was in the running, it is this album that earns the #2 spot on our list for having an arguably grander scale. The album was so popular upon release that it became adapted into other forms, including a film adaptation and a Broadway play. This hard rocker has since gone on to sell over 20 million copies and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. A rock opera of epic proportions.

Before we unveil our pick for the top concept album, let's take a look at a few honorable mentions.

"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" (2002)
The Flaming Lips

"The Black Parade" (2006)
My Chemical Romance

"The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (1974)
Genesis

"Joe's Garage" (1979)
Frank Zappa

"Good Kid, M.A.A.D City" (2012)
Kendrick Lamar

#1: "The Wall" (1979)
Pink Floyd


While “The Dark Side of the Moon” may have sold more copies, it is “The Wall” that gets our top spot. The album tells the story of Pink as he becomes frustrated with life and builds a metaphorical wall between him and society. Roger Waters based the story on his own personal feelings regarding his relationship with his fans. Regarded as one of the greatest albums ever, it was adapted into a film and is still extravagantly played live to this day. It was a terrific send-off for the classic lineup.

Do you agree with our list? What concept album do you think we should have included? For more ambitious top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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