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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

What’s the deal with deluxe albums?

With the release of Reneé Rapp’s “Snow Angel Deluxe,” the question of why these “deluxe albums” exist is raised once again.

Vinyl collections displayed in a music store are pictured.

Vinyl collections displayed in a music store are pictured.

Artist and actress Reneé Rapp released a deluxe version of her “Snow Angel” (2023) album on Nov. 17. The deluxe album has three new songs — “Messy,” “I Do” and “Swim” — as well as a new version of a classic: “Tummy Hurts” (feat. Coco Jones) - Remix.”

Rapp is just one of many artists who have released deluxe versions of their albums, which raises the question: What’s the deal with deluxe albums, anyway? In other words, why do artists release them, and what do listeners get out of them?

As seen in Taylor Swift’s vault tracks on her re-recorded albums and Beyoncé’s iconic “Beyoncé [Platinum Edition]” (2014), deluxe albums feature an additional few songs — or remixes — to complete or add to an album in some way. Depending on the deluxe album, this “completion” can mean adding a new tone or layer to the original version or rearranging the flow of the album. For “Snow Angel (Deluxe),” the effect is an entirely new tone. “Snow Angel” is already a complete album; it feels finished in both its tracklist and tone. The deluxe version offers a new feel through the somber tune of “23” and by ending on a much different note than the original. Rapp’s deluxe album adds a new depth that listeners didn’t initially realize they needed.

Ending on the new remix featuring Jones was a brilliant decision on Rapp’s part because it brings the album full circle. This song leaves the listener smiling and excited to hear more of Rapp’s music as opposed to the more depressing feeling left by the end of the original album. Rapp used her deluxe album to offer a new version of the emotional journey which “Snow Angel” brings to listeners, and is only a fraction of what these kinds of albums are capable of.

Deluxe albums also offer a chance for an artist to bring in any elements they felt were missing in their first outing, as Taylor Swift does with her vault tracks. Swift has shared her thoughts behind adding vault tracks to her rereleases of albums in the past: “I remember making tracklist after tracklist, obsessing over the right way to tell the story. I had to be ruthless with my choices, and I left behind some songs I am still unfailingly proud of now.” In the new versions of her albums, she’s not only able to add new elements, but also whole songs which she felt were missing originally.

Putting out a deluxe album can also lead to a renewal of interest in the album itself. Deluxe albums can be advertised as separate works, generating new press and revenue for the artist while also reminding listeners to listen to the original album. Rapp treated her deluxe album almost as if it was a completely new album, promoting it on her social media and adding a new cover which mimics the first album’s, but with a spin. Instead of showing the adult Rapp’s face with a halo of static hair, instead a child version of her sits in nearly the same position. Ultimately, this album serves as the perfect example of what a deluxe album should be: a nod to the original album, with a spin on the tone, sound, meaning or a combination of all three.