In recent years there have been many disgusting examples of deluxe editions; the worst, in my view, being the re-release of XXXTENTACION’s album ‘?’, which more than tripled the runtime of the original album. Originally being a rather slim release of 37 minutes and 18 tracks, the deluxe edition of ‘?’ contains 113 minutes and 53 tracks. The additional content is laughable; there are instrumentals, which in my opinion are one of the worst ways of creating a deluxe edition except for exceptional circumstances, and some very strange acoustic recordings and voice memos, many of which would likely have never been released during XXXTENTACION’s lifetime.
Some deluxe editions are more innocent, being released with real reason. For example, the anniversary of the album’s release creating a surge in popularity, although this again is just another example of driving for higher sales. Occasionally this results in new content. For example, with Radiohead’s re-release of ‘Ok Computer’ for its 20th anniversary, they introduced some of their B-sides to streaming services, even adding a few previously unreleased tracks for fans of the sound they pursued in the album.
However, the claim that an album has been ‘remastered’ is one that occasionally irritates me. It is rare that one can notice the difference between the original and remastered edition of a track unless using a superior set of headphones and listening to the highest quality version possible. Whilst the avid listener may consider this worthwhile, the more casual listener, who may only listen to music during their commute, for instance, benefits very little from this, particularly if using a streaming service which caps out the sound quality.
With online streaming becoming the most popular way to consume music, artists have been making every excuse to create deluxe editions of their albums. This is done in many different ways, such as the tacking on of throwaway singles or remixes and the addition of poor-quality live recordings. Why do they do this? To push sales of course, to chase the Gold and Platinum certifications that are so important when measuring an artist’s success. It’s a shame that the industry has become like this, although for me to act like this is a new phenomenon would be ignorant.