Since this is the 32nd anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, I thought it would be a good time to write about one of the most tasteless album covers ever created. Less than two years after Lennon’s death, Rhino Records released Beatlesongs!, a collection of Beatles novelty songs by various artists. The cover featured an illustration by artist and illustrator William Stout. Done in the Mad magazine style, the cover was a cartoon parody of Beatlemanics.
Inexplicably, one of the cartoon “fans” on the cover was a caricature of Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman (holding banner on the far left). Keep in mind that this cover was created in 1982, when the death of John Lennon was still a fresh wound. As should have been expected, the cover was quite controversial and Rhino pulled it from distribution. The following is an excerpt from Rhino’s press release regarding the album cover:
Due to many phone calls and letters of protest from disgruntled fans and stores, Rhino has elected to recall this jacket and immediately change the cover to a photo of various Beatles memorabilia. All existing jackets will be pasted over with the new cover. The depiction of Chapman was not made obvious to the members of Rhino’s staff, and only later was brought to their attention.
William Stout is a respected commercial artist whose work was featured in a five page spread in last November’s Life Magazine. His recent credits iinclude that of Production Artist on the film “Conan” and having his own book, “The Dinosaurs,” published by Bantam. Stout refused to alter the artwork – upon Rhino’s suggestion – claiming that an important point would be lost.
The release continued with what Rhino called a “manifesto” by Stout defending his cover as depicting a “complete range of Beatles fans” – oh, brother! It was a collection of novelty songs, not the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!
I really did not believe that the cover art used by pop singer Ke$ha could get louder and tackier than what we’ve seen for her past projects. The good news is that the glitter is gone. However, it has been replaced by acid neon colors that haven’t been seen since Wham! bounced around on stage in the 1980s.
The photograph looks like they took Ke$ha out to a vacant lot in Phoenix, dressed in a luminous, plastic breast plate left over from Comic Con 2008. Then, they decided to liven it up in Photoshop. The makeup and styling are horrific. Ke$ha looks as if she’s either suffering from sunstroke or extreme boredom. It isn’t even quite bad enough to be campy. It is definitely one of the worst album covers of the year.
Warrior is scheduled to be released on December 4, 2012.
Here is another addition to the AblumArtExchange Blog’s ongoing search for the worst album covers of all time. The forthcoming album by by industrial metal band Ministry features a dead junkie and a big piles of chunky vomit. The album is scheduled to be released on April 3, 2012.
The puke dripping off the dead guy’s goatee is a nice touch. Don’t you think? The cover art fits right in with past “Search for the Worst” albums that feature things like pee, poop and dead people. I’m actually kind of disappointed that the cover doesn’t include a rat eating one of the dead guy’s eyeballs.
The end of 2011 means that it is time for the “Best of” and “Worse of” lists to be published online and in magazines. This year, there were not as many disgusting album covers as we have seen in the past. There were not any animal mutilations or covers featuring feces and other bodily wastes.
However, there were covers featuring amputated limbs, a mutilated woman, and a nose or two being picked. There were also a couple of covers that are noteworthy for being poorly designed and disappointing to fans. My list of The Worst Album Covers of 2011 appears below in order from 10 to 1.
#10 The Cars – Move Like This
The Cars were once known for producing albums with memorable album covers. Unfortunately, the cover for their first new album in decades was a major disappointment. It featured stock photo backgrounds and strange silhouettes of the surviving band members.
The third album by Arizona rock band The Maine credits four people for design, art direction and other tasks required to produce an album cover. I just want to know which one of them applied the lipstick.
The debut album by San Francisco electronic band The Limousines was self-released in 2010 and released by Dangerbird Records in 2011. It is the only album cover I have ever seen that features a spit bubble. The photos that my niece takes of her baby blowing them are cute. This? Not so much.
Released by Moshi Moshi Records, the Care Bear EP by Teeth is somewhat of a mystery. At first glance, the image of a hirsute statute with money falling around it seems wacky. On closer inspection, one notices that the anus of the male figure is very detailed and unusually large. Creepy? Yep.
The cover for the self-titled debut album by British electronic music duo You Love Her Coz She’s Dead features a young woman with a safety pin jammed through her bloody lips. What else can I add besides the description? Uck! This makes nose picking look appealing.
The cover for the sixth studio album by American rock band Limp Bizkit is one of two revealed in 2011 that many fans immediately thought was a joke. The illustration by Wes Borland is certainly meant to be satirical. However, it is just a bit too weird to have been taken seriously.
Every year, I can count on some German band coming up with an objectionable album cover. Nuclear Raped Fuck Bomb by N.R.F.B. features an inexplicable photo of amputees who appear to be using donkeys as crutches. Add the blatant attempt to shock us with a title that combines sex and violence and we’ve got a third-place winner for the “Worst of” list.
There is not much that I can add to the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about what is certainly the most controversial album cover of the year. When the cover for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way was revealed online, the most common reaction was, “Where is the REAL cover?” Is it bad? Yes. Was it effective? Absolutely. The fact that it worked well as a marketing gimmick is the only thing that kept this monstrosity out of my #1 spot this year.
My choice for the worst album cover of 2011 is a for an album that celebrates rape, murder and a hatred for women. In that light, the cover featuring a woman who has been brutally murdered and dumped by the side of the road like garbage is fitting. The only question that remains is, “What kind of person buys this kind of thing?”
When I set out to find the worst album covers of all time, I did not want to create a list of album covers that are simply bad. I wanted to find the absolute worst. The covers on my list will feature things that are disgusting, offensive and wildly inappropriate.
This week, I found another candidate. The cover art for the forthcoming EP by Austrian artist Thomas Rainer’s solo music project Nachtmahr is perhaps one of the most repulsive I have ever come across. The album is titled Can You Feel the Beat? and the cover features a young woman with two black eyes and a bloody nose holding a bloody baseball bat up to her mouth in a suggestive manner.
Violence against women is an ugly thing. Using it to promote a product is highly offensive and may earn Can You Feel the Beat? a spot on the list in our continuing search for the worst album covers of all time.
The latest addition to the list of album covers that may be the worst of all time is for the self-titled debut album by British electronic music duo You Love Her Coz She’s Dead. The album was released on August 29, 2011.
This image of what appears to be a teenage girl mutilating her mouth with a safety pin is more than repulsive. Yuck!
The photo, which appeared on the website Sequenza 21, and then on Nonesuch’s own site, is a graphically enhanced version of Masatomo Kuriya’s shot of the second plane approaching the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001. The album, to be released Sept. 6, contains Reich’s new work WTC 9/11, performed by Kronos Quartet.
Few would say that the image isn’t provocative; others have already posted strong reactions. With the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 just around the corner, my Manhattan-based colleague Anastasia Tsioulcas and I thought a brief discussion might be appropriate.
It has been several months since an album cover has been worthy of being featured in our ongoing Search for the Worst series. The last cover to be considered was Lil Kim’s violent beheading of Nicki Minaj on the cover her mixtape Black Friday.
The problem with using a photograph like this as album art is that no matter how well-intentioned, an album cover is a commercial marketing tool. It is designed to sell a product. Album covers can be inspirational. They can be works of art. However, the main objective is to sell music and make a profit.
In spite of the album being a work to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, this cover is probably destined to be listed as one of the worst of all time for many years to come.
On Monday, rapper Lil Kim distributed the cover art for her new mixtape, Black Friday. This resulted in several AAX Blog readers writing to suggest that I include the cover in my continuing series, Search for the Worst.
The cover is a parody of Nicki Minaj’s current album, Pink Friday (right). It depicts Lil Kim (a convicted felon) butchering Minaj with a sword. Considering Lil Kim’s history of conspiracy in violent crime, the cover rises above bad taste and could be regarded as a death threat.
I have never seen an album cover used to threaten the life of a rival recording artist before. In addition, the cover is poorly executed. For some reason, blood is squirting from Lil Kim’s backside. I do not even want to think about why that could be happening.
Thanks to those who wrote in. Lil Kim’s Black Friday does indeed earn a spot on my list of the worst album covers of all time. I think it is actually much worse than Millie Jackson squating on a toilet.
From what I’ve been able to determine through online research, Murder Junkies is a tribute band to the late punk rock performer GG Allin. Allin died in 1993 of an apparent drug overdose. Apparently, the band has existed in various incarnations since performing as a backing band for Allin.
While the cover art for punk albums is often deliberately shocking, this one is so far beyond the limits of sanity it has earned a spot on the AlbumArtExchange Blog’s list of the all-time worst. The album is scheduled to be released on March 8, 2011.
It is the time of year when websites and blogs begin posting their annual “worst” and “best” lists. I will wait until 2010 is actually over and our final poll has concluded to publish the AAX Blog Best Album Covers of 2010 list.
Since I don’t ask readers to vote on the worst album covers every week, I think it is okay to let the world know what the worst ones are and why. Below are the ten worst album covers of 2010. They were chosen based on poor design, inept execution, questionable taste, or all three.
The cover for Vampire Weekend’s Contra made headlines when the model who posed for the photograph filed suit on the grounds that she had not given permission for its use. Beyond the controversy, the album cover deserves to be one of the worst of 2010 simply because it is designed to look like an amateur Polaroid that someone pulled out of a shoebox. The result is imitation authenticity. It is the Milli Vanilli of album art.
CocoRosie’s Grey Oceans was released with different covers for the CD and LP versions. Unfortunately, both featured the duo wearing what looks like what would happen if you covered yourself with glue and ran through a crafts store. At best, the costumes look like they spent a few bucks at their local Michaels.
Christina Aguilera’s Bionic is an example of what can happen when a very good photograph of a beautiful woman is given to a “outsider artist” along with a lame concept. Everything about this album cover is wrong, from the blood streaming typography to the Rocky Horror lips.
Usually, covers for metal albums get a pass when it comes to being gross. The cover for Lordi’s Babez for Breakfast is an exception. Believe it or not, there is a line and this cover crosses it with the image of a demon infant drawing blood from a breast. Yuck.
The cover for MGMT’s Congratulations is another example of outsider art that is supposed to be artistically significant in some way. I suppose I would be more forgiving of this particular cover if it had better execution. There are several flaws in the image that look as if they are the result of an unskilled hand rather than inspiration.
When I wrote about the cover for Reba McEntire’s All the Women I Am a few months ago, I actually got hate mail from enraged Reba fans. For them, the country legend can do no wrong. In my book, that makes her tacky album cover even more objectionable. The background is made out of aluminum foil! Kitchen wrap!
It is a joke. I get it. However, the cover for Got Cock? by Revolting Cocks is just too over-the-top. It is like a stand up comic who tries to hard and is just a bit too crude. The best thing about the cover is that the album title wasn’t actually tattooed on the model’s lips.
It is one thing to publish an album cover with a controversial, race-baiting concept. It is another to steal a controversial, race-baiting concept from another recording artist. The cover for rapper Sheek Louch’s Donnie G: Don Gorilla appears to meet both requirements that qualify it as one of the worst album covers of the year.
#2 A Plea for Purging – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
The cover art for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by A Plea for Purging is bloody and mutilated head of a wolf. The animal has been decapitated and several extracted teeth appear in a puddle of blood beside a pair of pliers. AAAAAAAGH!
I don’t think I have to explain why Soul Center by General Eclectics was chosen to be the Worst Album Cover of 2010. I really don’t want to know anything about the artist or why such a disgusting image was placed on the cover of their album. A close up of a stream of urine coming out of a horse. Really?
Prior to its release, Kanye West revealed through Twitter that the cover for his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had been “banned” due to sexual content. The artwork by painter George Condo is supposed to be a representation of West being straddled by what he described as a phoenix. Of course, a phoenix is a mythical bird. The creature on the cover looks more like a griffin. In any case, the cover came close to making it to the top 10 worst of 2010.