Albums Are Getting Patches Now

In video games, updates are such old news that it’s weird when a game isn’t consistently tweaked for months or years on end. Other mediums, however, are only just catching on to the magic of patches — and patch notes.

Earlier this week, fans of professional rapper, sadboy and Ninja Fortnite duos partner Drake noticed that his recently released double album Scorpion sounded a little different.

Turns out, those fans weren’t just hearing things. The album received an update, whose exact changes were chronicled in a widely shared Reddit post by users MrRom92 and Jrmio.

These weren’t overhauls that significantly altered the length or content of songs — just tweaks to the mixes of select songs. So basically, it’s the equivalent of a bug fix or optimisation patch.

Remixes and remasters have been common for ages in the music world, but only in the age of digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music have on-the-fly album updates become possible.

Most famously, feckless attention seeker and bad opinions about slavery haver Kanye West repeatedly updated his 2016 release Life of Pablo, adding new lyrics, switching up beats, splicing in background vocals, creating new tracks, and tweaking mixes.

More recently, he updated the track “I Thought About Killing You” on his latest album, Ye, to include a reference to that whole slavery thing.

Other mediums are coming down with gotta-patch-it fever, too. Arrested Development’s surprise season four “remix” springs to mind as the digital TV equivalent of an enhanced edition or an overhaul patch. (Although in this case, you can still find the original, even though it’s buried layers deep in menus.)

Is this emerging trend a good thing? I think that really depends on which work has been thrust back under the microscope. A remix couldn’t save Arrested Development's fourth season from itself, but there’s no arguing that it needed saving.

As for music, I listen to some of my favourite albums and think, “man, this could be a thousand times better with cleaner production,” but I’ve also come to adore little quirks and mistakes on others. A voice crack that shows how much emotion went into the vocals. The barely audible sound of a studio floorboard creaking in the background. Some songs are time capsules. Others feel timeless because of their flaws.

In Drake’s case specifically, there’s no beating around the Fortnite stealth bush: Scorpion suffers from hella bloat. I’m not sure it needs a bunch of obsessive tweaks so much as it could use some good old-fashioned cuts. Also, Drake really needs to nerf shotguns already. 


Comments

    Did you mean Season 5 of Arrested Development? I thought Season 4 was really good, especially after such a long hiatus. Season 5 though was very patchy and a bit of a mess (and not in the beautiful mess way that Arrested Development is usually).

    Back to music, I have no problem with remasters and remixes. As stated they've been around for ages and they often improve little problems with the album or CD. Or in the case of remixes give a song a whole new flavour. But the idea of "patching" songs to add in or change lyrics is a bit annoying.

    First of all, I feel like if they "need" to patch a song then they rushed it out before it was ready. If the lyrics don't flow properly or the music is "off" then don't release it. Give it a polish before, not after.

    Secondly, if you're putting in new ideas (like Kanye's thing) surely it'd be better to save them for a whole new song? Or hell, just do a remix. From a financial point of view it'd make more sense to have *more* content to sell to people. If you want to argue that the song is just a tweaked version so not worth full price then fine, sell it at a discount.

    Finally, as a listener I'd hate to have a song that I enjoyed changed because of this sort of tweaking. I remember a couple old rock/pop songs where I really loved the original versions. However, the remastered versions cleaned then up a little and took away some of the awesomeness at the same time. It's ok if you have the original album/CD since you still have the version you like. But if they're changing the "master" used on spotify and that's what you use you're boned.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now