Instant replay: how the pandemic gave albums time to breathe

The absence of gigs last year has given new albums a longer shelf life in the attention-deficit age of streaming

In the CD era, a new album could keep pop stars busy for the best part of a half-decade. Beyoncé eked nine singles from 2008’s double-disc opus I Am… Sasha Fierce, and Katy Perry brought her whipped-cream bazooka – that’s not a metaphor – to the UK twice on her globe-lapping tour for Teenage Dream, scoring seven Top 10s in the process. A pop era did not seem finished until the album was stripped to its carcass, and sometimes the juiciest bits came at the end: after two years on the road, Janet Jackson capped her Janet album with 1995’s remix collection, which turned If into heaven-sent piano house.

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