I’m super tired so here are some rambling thoughts that I hope make some kind of sense.
I need to think about this more. All I know, based on what I saw online and in my own experience was that there was at least a dozen albums this year that people who cared about the type of music the album came from really cared about the album.
Again, I think you overestimate what people did in the past. As many people now care about Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Drake’s Views as did Alanis’ record, TLC’s CrazySexyCool, or Mariah’s Daydream (three big records that came out in 1995).
Your Aunt Cathy may have had Alanis’ record, but thats one of the very rare albums that crossed over to every demographic (like Adele), that’s incredibly rare.
Also, I think what we disagree about most is the fragmentation of the internet which I think is largely a thing of the past. For, say, most 20 year olds, all of them are on instagram, snapchat and twitter and are all caring about the same things. Sure there, are pockets (Black Twitter) is definitely a thing, but the large majority of the mainstream have begun to share the same space in the past couple of years and that will only continue to increase.
I think a good analogy would be TV, which is much more fractured than it used to be. But would we say TV is less important because it’s not as centered around 10–15 important shows, but around, say, 60–80? I don’t think so, and I think that the way people flipped out about Coloring Book, Blonde, Lemonade, etc. just reflects how the importance of albums has shifted, but not diminished.
Sorry about the scattered responses!