The Deluxe Version of “Circles”: Supporting a Beloved Artist (Editorial)

Opinion posted March 16, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by William Roche

Growing up, I would go to different stores with my mom. While she would look at clothes and whatnot, I would bolt to the back section and check out the CDs or DVDs. I would pick it up, look at the back, and when I physically felt the case in my hand, there was a sense of commitment I had dedicated to an artist.

Even now, in a world dominated by streaming services, I still like to buy CDs and DVDs for the same reason I had when I grew up: you buy it, you put it in the CD player, and you sit and listen to it. The appeal of streaming services is that I can listen to any song I want for $9.99 a month. Yes, I do have Spotify, but that is for mere convenience. If I like an artist enough, like Mac Miller, I order their CD so I have it to keep. That way I don’t face the dreaded day if they decide to take it off streaming services.

That being said, CDs are expensive. Maybe not to some, but to a college student, buying a $13 disc is a lot, and there are deluxe versions that can even be more.

Mac Miller’s family recently announced that they will be releasing a deluxe version of “Circles,” Mac Miller’s posthumous album.

When the original album came out, I fell in love with it. Every song encapsulated exactly the theme that he originally set out to make. I became dedicated to it enough that I wanted to buy the CD. I decided against it. I was going to wait until the summer when I was living at home and not at school.

I’m glad I waited.

Since there are so many different ways to listen to music these days, there were multiple release dates of the deluxe version of “Circles.” March 6: CD version. March 20: available to stream. April 17: vinyl. Since I was going to eventually buy the CD anyway, I preordered it the day it was announced. I succumbed to having to wait for it to stream. The only guilt I felt was that the “deluxe” version only has two extra songs and, to be honest, they could have just been released when “Circles” originally came out.

This poses one big question in my head: is it all for money? From someone who was a fan of his early songs (“Knock Knock” or “Senior Skip Day”) I have grown to trust his family. Mac Miller has always known who his fan base is. But releasing the same album with only TWO extra songs a month or two after the release of the monumental and incredible “Circles” may be taking advantage of Miller’s fans who, for some, are still not over his sudden death in 2018.

Living artists release deluxe versions of music. The Beatles have released a “Super Deluxe” version of almost every album now that their records are over 50 years old. Luke Combs, a rising and very relevant country star, released a deluxe version of his freshman album a year after the release of the original. Luke Combs’“This One’s for You Too,” contains five tracks, and each of them adds to the album in a useful way. That’s why I was happy when the deluxe version of “Circles” did the same.

“Right” is a wonderful track filled with hints of R&B and rap. Reminiscent of his previous “Divine Feminine” album, Miller’s lyrics are the perfect addition to the themes of “Circles.” “Times get harder, things get strange/All I know, I don’t want you gone.” Sweet lyrics filled with themes of regret and emotion, they are backed by a synthesizer type instrumental that isn’t overbearing but instead tastefully mixed into the vocals.

“Swimming” and “Circles” are wonderful companion albums to each other. As I wrote in my original review of “Circles,” the themes of the two albums collide, beautifully connecting the concept that Miller wanted to create, and “Floating” ends the concept well.

With a feature from Thundercat, who has worked with Miller previously, “Floating” sounds exactly like the title. The instrumentals are drifty. It is hard to explain, but it sounded like how I imagine sitting on a cloud feels like. The lyrics encompass the themes and are a perfect ending to what Miller was set out to create.

“Yeah, there’s a room somewhere up above the tree/And once you get there, you don’t ever wanna leave,” are sad and impactful now that Miller is gone. Miller had regrets, losses and wins in his life, but the lyrics state that “up there” will be so much better than down what’s here on Earth.

Maybe I’m sentimental. Maybe I can’t get over the fact that Mac Miller won’t be able to perform these songs live. Whatever the case, I’m glad I ordered the deluxe version.

Mac Miller has become one of my favorite artists. I buy his CDs and spend money on his work because I feel that he deserves it. So, the problem with deluxe versions is nothing. To me, if I like an artist enough, I won’t feel guilty supporting their work by buying their music. If they inspire me in my life, I should show my appreciation by supporting them.

 

William Roche is a junior majoring in film/video. To contact him, email wtr5043@psu.edu.