November 2009 Archives
On November 25, 1989, pop music duo Milli Vanilli had a number one hit on the Billboard chart with Blame It On The Rain. It was the third single from their debut album Girl You Know It’s True and the last one to chart before the lipsyncing scandal that brought their rise to stardom to an sudden end and had them stripped of their Grammy.
Blame It On The Rain was written by songwriter Diane Warren and recorded by uncredited vocalists. As with the other songs released as being performed by Milli Vanilli, radio play of the single ceased overnight and it faded into obscurity.
I have recreated the cover art for the single using several examples found online. Like all of Milli Vanilli covers, the single features a photograph of the attractive young male models, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, hired to lipsync the songs and portray a pop duo in public appearances. Along with images of the photogenic pair, the artwork included a slick logo design.
An image that is reported to be the final official cover for Mary J. Blige’s forthcoming album Stronger withEach Tear has been circulating on the Internet for the past couple of days. The cover has not been posted on the artist’s website, online retailers or news wires. So, I am not able to confirm that it is an official cover.
The cover art currently being used for the album on Amazon.com (right) was posted prior to the title being changed. It also includes a tagline about the music being inspired by the film More Than A Game. I am not sure whether or not the first cover was intended to be a placeholder for the final cover.
The new cover that has been posted on blogs and music websites is similar to the cover for Blige’s single I Am. The photographs appear to be from the same shoot. My only concern about it being a final cover is that Blige’s skin texture appears to be very rough. The photograph does not appear to have been touched up enough to be a final album cover.
AAX user Foundation has added the covers for both the clean and explicit versions of the forthcoming Eminem Relapse: Refill album to the gallery.
The cover is simply a new version of the cover for Relapse (right) with a white background. I am somewhat disappointed that a new version this cover was not created for the expanded album. Lady Gaga recently released an expanded version of The Fame with two new covers, one for the standard edition and another for the deluxe.
A press release was issued a few days ago with a square black and white publicity photo of Eminem. That led me to consider the possibility that Relapse: Refill would have new album art. Sadly, that was not the case. Relapes: Refill is scheduled to be released on December 21.
Rock musician Dave Stewart just posted this photo of a woman holding a worn copy of Abbey Road on Twitpic with the caption CINDY LOVES ABBEY ROAD. I bet Abbey Road loves Cindy.
Various Artists - Thanksgiving Dinner: Classics for Family and Friends (2005)
Gene Autry - Little Johnny Pilgram & Guffy the Goofy Gobbler (1950)
On Tuesday, country trio Lady Antebellum revealed the cover for their forthcoming album on their blog. Need You Now is scheduled to be released on January 26, 2010.
On previous covers, the band ignored country music cliches such as cowboy hats and boots. However, those covers had a country music look to them. This album cover is definitely different. There is absolutely nothing about it that would suggest this is an album in the country music genre. In fact, it looks more like a Europop group.
Adam Lambert has released the music video for the title track and single from his album For Your Entertainment (right). Unless you live on another planet, you've heard about the controversy involving Lambert's perfromance at the American Music Awards on Sunday. This led to speculation that the music video for For Your Entertainment would be R-rated or worse.
However, it is a very tame video. It has lots of bright lights and costumes and very little sexually charged images. It fits in well with the strange art direction of Lambert's album cover and the cover for the single. Neither are really what I would consider to be particularly noteworthy.
Below are six album covers preselected from this week’s new releases. They were chosen based on sales rank at Amazon.com and for the quality or innovation of the album cover design. Please vote the album cover that you believe is the best for this week.
|Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment||Angie Stone - Unexpected|
|Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster||Rihanna - Rated R|
|Susan Boyle - I Dreamed A Dream||Shakira - She Wolf|
The cover for singer/songwriter Sade’s forthcoming album Soldier of Love was revealed today via news release. The album is scheduled to be released on February 8, 2010.
The cover features a spectacular and romantic scene in which a woman (presumed to be Sade) is looking out on the ruins of ancient South American pyramids. It is an absolutely gorgeous album cover and one of the best I have seen from a major recording artist this year.
According to our AlbumArtExchange blog poll, the best album cover for the week of November 17, 2009 is The Fall by Norah Jones. OneRepublic’s Waking Up came in second place, followed by Kris Allen’s self titled debut album.
The poll for the best album among this week’s new releases will be posted later today. Check back and vote for your favorite. It is a big week for album releases. Adam Lambert, Susan Boyle, Rihanna, Shakira, Lady Gaga and a surprise artist will be up for the vote.
The music video appeared on YouTube last month. Unfortunately, the record label had disabled embedding. Otherwise, I would have written about it earlier. It is now available on Dailymotion.
The cover art for Rain is simliar to that of the album, using the same cartoon style that is typical for Mika. I like the illustrations. Although they are very creative, I can anticipate them getting a bit monotonous.
You can buy the digital version of Adam Lambert’s nerw album For Your Entertainment from Amazon.com for the discounted price of $3.99. When you apply the special discount code for a $3.00 discount, you will be charged only 99 cents for the entire album.
Just get the special discount code and then click the “buy now” link below. You’ll get Adam Lambert’s album for less than a buck. How can you beat that deal?
Take a couple of drag queens dressed as Joan Crawford, some crazy lyrics, and some killer surf guitar and you’ve got the best novelty band I’ve seen in a very long time. The Joans are based in Chicago and they are definitely unique.
Formed in 2007, the band members include lead guitarist and music arranger Taylor Joans, Aaron Joans on drums, Jennifer Joans on vocals, Steve Joans on bass guitar and Ed Joans (yeah, they all use the last name “Joans”) keyboard player.
This year, The Joans opened for Cyndi Lauper in Milwaukee and released their debut album, We Are The Joans. Their first music video Mad At The Dirt was posted on YouTube in September.
The music and vocals are surprising good. If you enjoy campy acts and funny lyrics, you are certain to like The Joans. I haven’t had this much fun since The B-52’s were doing the Rock Lobster.
When I saw the cover that was being used with the media materials for the new live album by Herb Alpert and Lani Hall (right), I thought it was decent album art. It features a nice photograph of the artists, framed on the left and bottom with a tri-color border and interesting typography. The colors are muted and unique. It has an almost retro look that I believe is appropriate for an album of jazz standards.
Unfortunately, the final album art used for the release is quite different. There are quite a few design flaws that make it clear that a committee rather than a single artistic vision produced it. The muted tri-color border has been replaced with a bright blue band of color that has obviously been Photoshopped into the image. The photograph has been changed to one with Alpert in the foreground and a violet filter has been applied to his face. The typography is basically the same. However, without the band of solid color that bordered the left of the original cover, the type is not anchored and looks clumsily and arbitrarily staggered. This is a perfect example of beginning with a decent design and ending up with something quite ugly.
The photograph used for the original cover showed Hall singing and Alpert playing the trumpet. The new version shows Hall acting as Alpert’s audience. Instead of powering out a ballad, she looks as if Alpert is putting her to sleep. This should be used for design students as an example of how to ruin a concept.
The Disney animated feature The Princess and the Frog opens in theaters on December 11. The soundtrack album featuring original songs and socre by Randy Newman will be released tomorrow. Samples of the songs performed by Ne-Yo, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls), and other cast members can be found on the Disney website.
The album cover is a square version of the movie poster. This has been a growing trend with soundtrack albums. It is somewhat disappointing to see that Disney has chosen to recycle their movie poster art for an album cover. The soundtrack for the 2007 Disney film Enchanted featured original art for the album cover (right). Perhaps it is just a sign of the troubled economy.
While the image used for the album cover works as a movie poster, I do not believe that it is the right for the soundtrack. The image of the Princess holding the frog is secondary to the movie’s villains. There is just too much going on in the frame. The album art for Enchanted eliminates the secondary characters and simplifies the image, resulting in a much stronger composition. Let’s hope Disney does not continue to crop movie posters for their album art. We should expect more from them.
What are the odds of two artists putting out recordings with almost identical album covers at roughly the same time? In this particular instance, we have MSTRKRFT’s Bounce single and Har Mar Superstar’s album Dark Touches. These covers appeared a little over a month apart. I guess the only question that needs to be asked is, “Who did it better?”
MSTRKRFT - Bounce (2009)
Har Mar Superstar - Dark Touches (2009)
I know that in a world in which a celebrity like Ashton Kutcher has over four million Twitter followers, 400 people following the AlbumArtExchange blog doesn’t sound like a big deal. Unlike Ashton, Perez, and Lindsay, the AlbumArtExchange has a very specific audience — those interested in album art.
Many of our Twitter followers are recording artists. Some are graphic designers and art directors. Quite a few work as publicists for recording artists and record labels. Then, there are folks who simply have an interest in album art and pop culture.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen an increase in the number of artists revealing their album art via Twitter. It has become a great way to generate publicity for a forthcoming album or single.
Taschen Books has recently published Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, an amazing 422-page collectors’ volume that illustrates the career of the graphic designer who is credited for the invention of the album cover.
I recently read through the entire book online and it is wonderfully done. It has brilliant full-color images of Steinweiss work, including typography, logo design, album covers, movie posters and more. Steinweiss’ career spanned over three decades and the book gives us an excellent look at how his work remained distinctive and influential throughout the years.
Authors Steven Heller and Kevin Reagan have created a book the will be of interest to both graphic design professionals and anyone interested in learning about the early history of the album cover and graphic design in American advertising.
The signed limited edition is limited to 1,500 copies comes in a slipcase. At $500, the limited edition is priced out of reach for most of us. Hopefully, it will be made available to the masses as a standard edition in the near future.
British alternative rock musician Jarvis Cocker’s new music video for the title track of his album Further Complications has been described by his record label as bringing the “album art to life.” The video shows the artist being pushed and falling into various precarious positions, which definitely serves as an explanation for how he ended up in the unusual pose seen on the album cover.
American alternative rock band Vampire Weekend has released what is technically the second single from their forthcoming album Contra. The Cousins single follows the Internet release of Horchata (right), which was made available as a free download from the band’s website.
The music video for Cousins debuted online yesterday. The cover for the single is a photograph that appears to be have benen taken during the filming of the video. It features the band performing in an alley and being showered by confetti. The track on which the camera and the band moved during filming can be seen on the cover. It is a very interesting use of a filmmaking technique that usually remains invisible to the viewer.
AlbumArtExchange user gege has discovered a series of artistic images on Flickr that were created using audio cassette tape as a medium. The audio tape is removed from the cassette and applied to canvas. One image is a recreation of the classic album London Calling by The Clash (right).
We’ve recently seen the art from London Calling album used to adorn a pair of Converse high tops. However this is the first time that I have seen audio cassette tape used to create an image. To make it even more interesting, the audio cassette used was actually one of London Calling. This takes recycling to another level!
My Morning Jacket - American Dad: My Morning Straightjacket Soundtrack (2009)
What I assume is the cover for Eminem’s forthcoming album Relapse: Refill was revealed today via the artist’s Twitter account and blog. It was also distributed later in the day along with a news release.
The image distributed online has not specifically been described as the official album cover. So, I am publishing it with caution. It may not be the final cover. The fact that it does not include typography makes it more possible that it is simply a publicity photo standing in for the final album art. Relapse: Refill is scheduled to be released on December 22.
Fans were delighted when the cover was revealed several weeks ago. There had been speculation that the image for the cover would be a Scotland landscape, similar to the image that was used in the artist’s official website.
Instead, the album features a beautiful black and white portrait of Boyle. Her head is cradled in her hands and she has a sparkling and almost mischievous expression on her face.
I recently came across the color version of the portrait used on the album cover and decided to see what the album cover would have looked like in color rather than black and white. I really like the result. I’ve posted my creation below as a mock up for a deluxe edition of I Dreamed A Dream. I hope that if a deluxe version of the album is released that the record label will consider doing something like this.
I believe this image is just as beautiful in color. The photograph was originally taken by Hugh Stewart for the September 2009 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. This is an excellent example of why using a talented photographer is an important part of album cover design.
New York City alternative rock band Valley Lodge has scored a viral video hit with All of My Loving. The music video is very funny and is currently a favorite on dozens of blogs and Facebook pages. The song is from the band’s 2005 self titled debut album (right). No one would know that this is a band with a quirky sense of humor by looking at the cover of that album. It features an image of a group of birds that reminds me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
The cover for their most recent album is entirely different. Semester at Sea features a photograph of a woman building a sand castle in the sand trap of a golf course. As you will see from the music video, this album cover is much more appropriate for Valley Lodge.
Please be advised that the music video posted below is not safe for work. It contains tasteful nudity (similar to what one would see in an art studio), but it is funny and artistic at the same time. I can certainly see why it has become popular online.
The Dwarves - How To Win Friends And Influence People (2001)
Paste magazine has published a list of the 25 Best Albums of the Decade (even though the decade has an entire month to go) and Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone was chosen as number one. I think this is a surprising choice, considering how many amazing album covers have been created over the last ten years. Middle Cyclone is a 2009 release. Perhaps the fact that it is so recent made it seem more impactful than time will prove.
The cover features Case crouched on the hood of a 1968 Mercury Cougar and weilding a sword. It is definitely a dynamic and memorable image. I just don’t think it deserves to be named the best of the decade.
The runner up is Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, which features an optical illusion image by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor at the Department of Psychology of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. I have to agree with this choice completely. It is an amazing work of art and science.
In third place place is the repulsive cover for I Get Wet by Andrew W.K. I have disliked this particular cover since the moment it first grossed me out. This cover has actually appeared on several “worst ever” lists. I am somewhat surprised that it appears on the list.
Posted by: Music Hog
Posted by: locovic21legan
Check out the entire list. There are several other surprises, such as Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III that was chosen for being “simultaneously hilarious and also mildly disturbing” rather than good design.
I am not sure if the cover for Disco Mafia’s Stop Vol. 2 E.P. is a tribute or a blatant rip off of the cover for Kraftwerk’s Autobahn. The cover of the Kraftwerk album is so well known that I have to imagine it is a tribute. Seeing it was certainly a déjà vu moment.
Disco Mafia - Stop Vol. 2 (2005)
Kraftwerk - Autobahn (1974)
On November 3, Art Vinyl, a British manufacturer of a unique flip frame display for 12” record sleeves, launched an online competition for the best sleeve art of 2009. Art Vinyl and a panel of experts, has selected 50 sleeve designs that are currently being shown in exhibitions in London and around the U.K.
The best album art will be chosen through a public poll on the Art Vinyl website (see link below) and the winners will be announced on January 5, 2010.
The Best Art Vinyl poll is in its fifth year. Previous winners of the award include Hard-Fi’s Stars of CCTV in 2005, Thom Yorke’s The Erase’ in 2006, The Cribs Man’s Needs, Woman’s Needs, Whatever in 2007 and last year the winner was Fleet Foxes’ self titled debut album, which won with more than 3,000 public votes.
The nominating panel for this year’s competition were: Mark Sinclair of Creative Review, Spencer Hicks of Rough Trade, John Doran, Editor of The Quietus and Andrew Heeps, Director of Art Vinyl 2.
Winemaker Mark Beaman has created three wines that have rather unique labels and marketing concept that I have not seen before. Beaman’s Wines That Rock features wines that are named after classic rock albums: Forty Licks Merlot, Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, and Woodstock Chardonnay.
Each wine bears the album art as the label (right) and according to Beaman “truly captures the essence” of the album. I’m not quite sure how one captures sound in a bottle, but that sales pitch alone makes me want to sample all three vintages.
The vision statement on the Wines That Rock website reads:
“The music and artwork associated with these classic albums and events all have their own stories. The bands created some of most important music in history and the graphic artists who created the album art were very important to the overall experience and the long lasting visual memories of the classic music that was produced.”
A winemaker who appreciates album art, it sounds like Mark Beaman is a guy who would be very popular at a gathering of AlbumArtExchange users.
Grand Funk Railroad - All the Girls In the World Beware!!! (1974)
Below are six album covers chosen from this week's new releases. They were preselected based on Amazon.com sales rank and for album art that can be considered noteworthy. Please help determine which album will be chosen the best album cover of the week by participating in our poll.
|John Mayer - Battle Studies|
|Kris Allen - Kris Allen
||Leona Lewis - Echo|
|Norah Jones - The Fall
||OneRepublic - Waking Up|
The soundtrack for the upcoming James Cameron 3D film AVATAR is scheduled to be released on December 15. The music for the film was composed and conducted by James Horner, who composed the scores for Titanic, Braveheart, Field of Dreams, several Star Trek films and many others. The film will hit theaters on December 18.
It has been reported that British pop singer Leona Lewis has recorded the movie’s theme song which was written and produced by Horner and producer Simon Franglen, the team that produced Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On from Titanic.
The cover of the soundtrack album is a squared version of the movie poster. Currently, there is no mention of the theme song or Leona Lewis. That may change if the song becomes a hit. There is no word on whether or not the song will be released as single prior to the film’s debut next month.
According to our AlbumArtExchange blog poll, the best album cover for the week of November 10, 2009 is Wale’s Attention Deficit. We also had a three-way tie for second place between Bon Jovi’s The Circle, Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane, and Throwdown’s Deathless. 50 Cent’s Before I Self Destruct came in third.
I think those who took the poll got it right this time. The Wale cover is a very thought provoking image. It has a message and it is very well executed.
Check back later today for this week’s poll. It will include album covers from Leona Lewis, Kris Allen, John Mayer and three other top artists.
The music video for Video Phone, the duet by Beyoncé and Lady Gaga was posted on PerezHilton.com today. The song will appear on the deluxe edition of Beyoncé’s album I Am…Sasha Fierce, which is scheduled to be released on November 23.
The cover is similar to that of the original version of the album, except that it is in color and more tightly cropped. Neither the cover nor the video impress me very much. Both are a whole lot of everything we’ve seen before.
The cover art for Ministry of Sound’s new three CD compilation of dance music is deceptively minimalist. However, sometimes there is no need to for more than a basic gold background and simple typography.
The tagline on the album cover reads, “One Moment. One Feeling. The Greatest Dance Records Of All Time.” They aren’t exaggerating. The set is comprised of 54 tracks and features artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Faithless, Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal, Basement Jaxx, Kylie Minogue, Eric Prydz, The Shapeshifters, and Armand Van Helden. Priced the same as a standard album, this is a real bargain and worthy of the gold tone album cover.
The cover for the forthcoming single by Nick Jonas & The Administration was revealed on Amazon.com today. Who I Am is scheduled to be released on December 3.
Technically, this is a solo album for Jonas. He appears alone on the cover of the single, without the band called The Administration that is backing him. This is similar to teen pop star Selena Gomez who performs as Selena Gomez & The Scene on her recent album Kiss & Tell. I think this is supposed to give these artists more credibility rather than be seen as a solo teenage pop act.
The cover is a black and white portrait of Jonas, who is standing on what appears to be a city rooftop and carrying a guitar.
Christmas is just around the corner and that means lots of new holiday albums are coming our way. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Sting and Tori Amos have new releases. There are albums of old favorites from Jackson 5 and Barbra Streisand.
The AlbumArtExchange blog is happy to start the season off with a laugh by presenting First Meowel by Jingle Cats as our first Christmas album of the season.
Me First and The Gimme Gimmes - Are A Drag (1999)
Somebody To Love, the debut single from pop singer Leighton Meester, precedes the artist’s self titled album which is schedule to be released in January 2010. The song features Robin Thicke and the music video was released last week.
The cover for the single features a portrait of the artist tinted in bright red and violet colors. It is similar to other recent covers and a fairly decent design for a single.
A very common theme in album art is womens’ legs and high heels. This should come as no surprise since images featuring shapely legs and heels have been a popular subject for artists and photographers for generations. The classic example is the World War II pin up of Betty Grable, but it is certainly not the earliest. Just look through an stock photo collection and you will find dozens of examples of images similar to the one posted on the right.
Over the years, many album covers have featured legs and high heels. One of the earliest notable covers is Cool Struttin’ by Sonny Clark. The 1958 Blue Note release was considered to be quite racy at the time. It was a hip jazz album that could be found in the apartments of many young bachelors (the kind of guys mother warned you about). Throughout the next decade, the skirts got shorter and the heels got higher.
A very popular version of the legs and high heels theme uses a shot of the back of the woman’s legs in either red or black pumps. Typically, the legs are spread in an open stance. The most familiar example of this version can be found on the cover of the soundtrack for the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
The examples below span several decades. The style of the shoes may change over the years, but the concept remains the same. Artists such as ZZ Top and .38 Special have used this theme. It is one that will probably never go out of style.
This theme is often executed using silhouette and illustrations. The three examples below display a very similar design.
Other variations have used mannequins, giant pumps, and dramatic poses. It is obvious that this is a theme that has sparked a lot of creativity.
A few weeks ago, I added an album cover featuring a dead raccoon (right) to my list of those worthy of being included on my forthcoming “worst ever” list. I feel that The Real Feel by Spiral Stairs crossed the line by putting roadkill on their album and using it as some kind of sick and misguided joke.
Now, Swedish rocker Olle_XXL has gone one step further by using a photograph of a cat with the mangled carcass of a bird in its mouth. The album is titled Great Tit & Grey Pussy and the cover is certain to provoke a universal reaction — UCK!
Anyone who has ever owned a cat knows the horror of having their pet drag mutilated animals inside. My friend Cliff has a very sweet cat named Shadow that has a habit of bringing him disemboweled gophers. Do we really need to see this on the cover of an album? I would hate to see this become a trend.
Today, I ran across a track from Doolittle’s forthcoming self-titled E.P. that is posted on the Parlophone YouTube channel. It was not what I expected to hear. Rollerblades is a cute pop song that reminds me quite a bit of Lily Allen.
According to last.fm, the E.P. is scheduled to be released on November 26. It is not listed on Amazon.com or iTunes at this time. It is definitely on my wish list.
The cover for the E.P. is very cute. It definitely works with the Rollerblades song (for obvious reasons). I am curious to find out what the other tracks sound like.
Ever see a new album cover and think, “Hum, where have I seen that before?” That is the idea behind the Déjà vu category here on the AlbumArtExchange blog. A few months ago, I saw the cover for Awake by Christian rock band Skillet. I didn’t think too much about it until I saw the cover for the Nip/Tuck TV series soundtrack today.
Skillet - Awake (2009)
Nip/Tuck Original TV Soundtrack - Gabriel & Dresden (2004)
Not that there is anything wrong with looking like Urkel, but I doubt that is what Brown was going for with the over-sized glasses, red cardigan sweater, and high-rider tight pants he is wearing. Eliminating one of these elements would change the Urkel effect. As it is, a lot of people are going to be looking at Brown’s cover and asking “Did I do that?”
Many of Brown’s fan’s responded negatively to the outfit he wears on the cover of his forthcoming album, Grafitti. I actually think that costume works. It is all black and used in a futuristic setting. The clothing worn by Brown on the Sing Like Me cover has no context due to the plain background.
Perhaps this look will work for Brown. “Urkel chic” could end up being a new fashion trend. What do you think about this look? Is it cool or creepy?
Another cover has appeared online for Alicia Keys’ forthcoming album The Element of Freedom. The new cover features the artist wearing a top made out of colorful feathers rather than the beaded head covering that she wore in the previous version.
Keys has her eyes closed in the photograph, which is never the best idea for an album cover. I actually think this cover is worse that the first one that appeared on Amazon.com a few days ago. Keys went from a cheap looking head covering that looked as if it had been made with a Bedazzler to chicken feathers. Both looks are too much like stage costumes for my taste.
If a recording artist is going to try to pull off wearing a costume with beads or feathers, she has to be willing to pull out all the stops. Cher (right) is always able to get away with outrageous costumes. She uses great designers like Bob Mackie and never comes off as looking cheap. Keys’ costumes are obviously of a low quality and it just doesn’t work. No guts, no glory.
The score for Men Who Stare at Goats, a film starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges, is currently available as a digital download from Amazon.com and iTunes. It is unusual that the score for a major motion picture is not being sold as a CD.
The score was composed by Rolfe Kent, who has worked on other films such as Sideways, Wedding Crashers, and About Schmidt. The cover for the album is basically a square version of the movie poster. That isn’t surprising since this appears to be a digital-only release.
In honor of this Veterans Day, I have a special album art flashback. I have recreated the cover of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's album Ballads of the Green Berets using several exampes I found online.
In 1966, the title single from the album, Ballad of the Green Berets, was number one on the Billboard chart for five consecutive weeks. The song was written by Sadler and Robin Moore while Sadler was recovering from a leg wound he suffered in the Vietnam War. It topped the charts ahead of The Beatles and Rolling Stones and has sold over nine million copies. The song was used in the 1968 film The Green Berets, which starred John Wayne.
Yesterday, Alicia Keys announced on Twitter that the cover for her forthcoming album that was posted on Amazon.com (right) is not her “real” album cover. If that is the case and Amazon.com posted an unofficial album cover on their store, it would be the first time that I have seen something like that happen.
Typically, Amazon.com and other retailers only display album covers that they receive from the distributors. The cover for The Element of Freedom looks very much like a final official version to me. It is definitely finished art.
I believe that it is more likely that Keys was unhappy with the bad reviews that the cover received. My own review was not favorable, suggesting that the thing on her head looks like it was made with a Bedazzler.
The statement made by Keys (or her publicist) appears to be disingenuous. The cover was not simply “going around” the Internet. It was posted on Amazon.com and probably distributed by her publicist as well.
I don’t think there is any shame in pulling an album cover that gets bad reviews. In fact, it would be a good idea for artists to post the covers they are considering to Twitter and ask for feedback. Simply do an Internet poll to find out which cover fans prefer. It would be a great PR move and spare the artist the embarrassment of having to pull a cover that fans don’t like.
The music video for Lady Gaga’s new single Bad Romance was posted on YouTube today. Whether you are a fan or not, there is no question that Lady Gaga knows how to put on a great show. The video is full of fantastic costumes and has a bizarre ending that will surprise you.
I wrote about the Bad Romance cover when it was released on October 16. I still think it is one of the strongest images from the Fame Monster series and would have been my choice for an album cover.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from this week’s new releases. The albums have been chosen based on sales rank on Amazon.com and for having notable designs. Unlike some weeks, this week had a large number of interesting albums from which to choose. Please select the one that you think has both the best design and communicates what the album and the artist is all about.
All-girl French rock band Plastiscines has just released the second single from their second studio album About Love (right). Bitch was recently used as a promo trailer for the TV show Gossip Girl. The video features the band performing the song along with clips from the show.
The first single Barcelona was released in April and the album in August 2009. The cover art for Barcelona is identical to that of the album, featuring one of the four band members.
The cover for Bitch seems to me to be more apporopriate for an album. It shows all four women and gives a much better idea of what the band is about.
According to our AlbumArtExchange blog poll, Raditude by Weezer is the best album cover for the week of November 3, 2009. The cover won with 50% of the vote. Monster Monster by The Almost came in second and Phrazes For The Young by Julian Casablancas and Say Anything’s self titled album tied for third place.
Check back later today to vote on the best cover from a selection of this week’s new releases. I promise there are some very interesting choices this time around.
The cover for Alicia Keys’ forthcoming album The Element of Freedom was revealed online today. Keys appears on the cover wearing what looks like a bejeweled bathing cap and surrounded by white doves. The new album by Paloma Faith, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful, also features white doves and achieves a much better result. Faith appears wearing black lace and a cool retro hairdo.
In contrast, the Keys’ cover has a very religious look to it. Her outfit looks too much like a cheap costume for my tastes. The thing on her head looks like something that would be sold on the Home Shopping Network. The Element of Freedom is scheduled for release on December 15. Perhaps as a special promotion, it should come bundled with a Bedazzler.
According to Blabbermouth.com, American heavy metal band is trying a unique packaging concept with their forthcoming self titled album. The album art is being printed using a blacklight-reactive ink and will only be visible under ultraviolet light.
Reportedly the first album to ever use blacklight-reactive ink (making it only visible under a black light), the CD’s cover image was created by world-renowned tattoo king Paul Booth.
Every bit of art and text in the packaging of the record will be printed on ink that can only be seen under a black light (see video below).
I have posted both the album cover and the video demonstration below. Please be advised that the video contains the f-word and is not safe for work.
The illustration reminds me of something from Lord of the Rings. It is a very cool image and I’m sure it looks even creepier under the blacklight.
September 7, 1994 would have been the late Buddy Holly’s 58th bithday. So, it was a fitting day for alternative rock band Weezer to release the second single from their self-titled debut album (right).
The single peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it is more notable for its music video by director Spike Jonze that featured a recreation of the 1970s hit TV sitcom Happy Days. The video was included on the Microsoft Windows 95 CD-ROM as sample multimedia for Windows Media Player.
I was working at Circuit City at the time, selling computers. So, I must have watched the video hundreds of times. I purchased the CD single at about the same time.
The cover of the CD single does not feature the band and the memorable Happy Days theme. On the cover are two children holding packets of flower seeds. This looks like a missed opportunity to me.
Alternative rock band Pixies is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their album Doolittle by giving away a free live performance EP. The Doolittle 20th Anniversary Live Sampler EP features four 320 Kbps MP3.
The cover art that comes with the EP is very basic. It simply features the band’s logo in school bus yellow on a brown background. However, the sound quality of the four songs is very good. Pixies always sound good live and this EP is no exception.
You can download the EP after submitting your email address on the band’s website or by using the widget posted below.
German electronic music DJ and producer Paul van Dyk has released three singles this year, working up to the release of his sixth studio album slated for 2010. Home is the second of the three and it was released several months ago. It features the vocals of singer and songwriter Johnny McDaid (formerly of Vega4). Home has not charted in the U.S. or U.K., but was #64 in Germany. Van Dyk has been reported to be working on a hymn that will be performed during a ceremony celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I am writing about Home as a notable single today simply because I find the cover strangely compelling. I am not quite sure if the houseboat in the photograph is real or just a model. It looks like a place I would like to spend a few days, drifting and taking it easy. I’m not too sure about calling it “home” though. It is definitely more of a vacation spot.
In 1975, the cover of Robert Palmer’s second solo album Pressure Drop caused a bit of controversy. It featured the late singer standing in a bedroom while in the background a nude woman in high heels observed the view from an open door. It is often included in lists of best album covers
Last year, hip hop trio Now On paid tribute to Palmer’s noteworthy album cover by creating three variations of it for their album Tomorrow Already. Looking at them was certainly a déjà vu moment.
The soundtrack for the science fiction thriller The Fourth Kind by composer Atli Örvarsson is scheduled to be released on November 23. The movie opened in theaters this week to less than great reviews. The story involves a group of people who are revealed to have been abducted by aliens while participating in a sleep disorders study.
The cover of the soundtrack is not a square version of the movie poster (right), as is so often the case these days. Instead, the album cover features the face of the film’s star, Milla Jovovich.
The cover uses the same color scheme as the poster, but does not include the tagline “Based on the actual case studies” and the explanation of what the film’s title means. In this case, I think that would have been a good idea. While Jovovich face serves as a great image, the cover as a whole leaves me kind of cold and uninspired.
British electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys have revealed the cover for their forthcoming Christmas EP. They also announced the five songs that will be included. The first track is a new version of It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas. Other tracks include two versions of a cover of My Girl by Madness, a medley of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida and Domino Dancing, and a new version of All Over The World. The EP is scheduled to be released on December 14.
The cover features several balloons with images of the duo printed on them. I’m not sure how that connects to Christmas. Perhaps they are mean to resemble ornaments.
Carolyn Mark and N.Q. Arbuckle - Let’s Just Stay Here (2009)
In 1977, American new wave rock band Devo released their cover of the Rolling Stones (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (right). The single was incorrectly title (I Can’t Get Me No) Satisfaction. The single led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. and the song was recorded for the band’s debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!
The album was produced by Brian Eno and released in 1978. The cover is an illustration based on an image of the famous Puerto Rican professional golfer Juan “Chi Chi” Rodriguez. According to an essay by founding band member Jerry Casale, a Warner Bros. executive objected to the cover and it was altered to look less like Rodriguez. However, there is still a resemblance, including the golfer’s trademark hat with a tropical band (right).
On November 3, a deluxe remastered edition of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! containing a live version of the entire album as bonus tracks was released. The live tracks are culled from the special anniversary concert performed in London on May 6, 2009. The album is also being reissued as a LP on yellow vinyl.
The album peaked at number 78 on the Billboard chart and reached number 12 in the U.K. It was initially categorized as novelty music and has since earned a place in rock history as a pioneering new wave album. has been named one of Pitchfork Media’s top 100 albums of 1970s and is on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Yesterday, I found an album cover that makes Rihanna’s recent dabbling in the world of S&M on the cover of her Russian Roulette single look quite tame. Rihanna’s bare breasts may have been wrapped in barbed wire as she posed wearing a dainty half mask, but the authentic look can be seen on the cover of a forthcoming album from British musician Steven Stapleton who goes by the name Nurse with Wound.
Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Machine And An Umbrella is scheduled to be released on December 8. It features a disturbing illustration of a woman decked out in a leather outfit that includes a hood, gloves, and a whip. This is definitely a WTF?! cover.
Unlike the Rihanna cover, the woman in the illustration has not seen fit to cover her breasts — in barbed wire or anything else. Several semi-nude men are lined up, apparently waiting for lashes from the leather clad woman.
With their single Left My Heart In Tokyo (right) making its debut at number 10 on the U.K. singles chart, British pop duo Mini Viva has just released the music video for their second single. According to Chart Rigger, the video for I Wish was shot in Downtown Los Angeles.
Like the covers of both singles, the I Wish video is full of bright visuals. There is no misake that this is glitsy pop that is meant to be pure entertainment.
I Wish is scheduled to be released in the U.K. on December 7. Left My Heart In Tokyo is not currently available in the U.S. The forthcoming album is still untitled and no release date has been set.
This edition of Déjà vu features two album covers with medical images of a human skull. Both images have been manipulated to show obects in the brain. Come In And Burn Sessions by Rollins Band has a razor blade causing the person being x-rayed quite a headache.
The cover of Dear Agony by Breaking Benjamin is an MRI of Benjamin Burnley’s skull that has been doctored to include some kind of Gordian knot design.
Rollins Band - Come In And Burn Sessions (2005)
Posted by: zeefritz
Breaking Benjamin - Dear Agony (2009)
Posted by: zeefritz
The new remastered Beatles albums that were recently released will soon be available on a USB device in a unique apple-shaped container. The 16 GB device will be sold in limited qualities through the Official Beatles Store beginning December 8.
According to the product description, the music files will be provided in both FLAC and 320 Kbps MP3 formats. Also included will be “replicated original UK art, rare photos and expanded liner notes” in digital format.
Hopefully, the album art will be high resolution files rather than the typical images that are embedded in music files.
Aiden James is an Indie singer and songwriter who currently getting some attention from his music video for the title track of his album On The Run. The album was released in 2008 and the official music video was posted to YouTube in August.
As sometimes happens, yesterday’s election involving public votes on same-sex marriage has given new a new meaning to the song and the video. The cover for the album is simple, featuring a photograph of the artist sitting in a window with a city view.
Yesterday, Google launched Google Discover Music. The new music search service provides links to Google partners such as Imeem.com, Lala and Rhapsody where music by the artist can be purchased. If a search is made for a specific track, it can be listened to on a player embedded in the search results.
To promote the launch, Lala is offering several free tracks and exclusives from artists like Tim McGraw and Phoenix. Most of the exclusives are live versions and similar tracks that are given away as promotions by record labels. When the link to Lala is followed, a pop up box appears with a “Free MP3 button (right).
I found the music search results to be very hit and miss. I entered in some popular artist and did not get a music search result at all. Searching for specific remixes and tracks of the same name from different albums was almost impossible. Below are the screens for the Google Music Discovery landing page and the search result for Tim McGraw.
I downloaded the free Tim McGraw song and added it to iTunes. I was disappointed to discover that the album art is inferior. It is a 550 x 550 image rather than the standard 600 x 600. Click the thumbnail (right) to see the actual image file included with the Lala track.
It is clear that Google needs to do a lot of work to improve their music search. The search results should anticipate how people search for music based on artist, album, song title, lyrics and fragments of this information.
Otherwise, it is still easier to find the music on Amazon.com and iTunes. Unless Google can help consumers find music that is difficult to locate and popular rare tracks, they are not going to be serious competition to the two major online music retailers. Offering music files of superior quality would also be a good idea. I will avoid Lala simply for the inferior album cover art attached to their product.
The Attery Squash - Devo Was Right About Everything (2009)
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from this week’s new releases. They have been chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and their album art. This weekwe have covers ranging from new artists to a comedy album. Results will be posted new Tuesday.
The Almost - Monster Monster
Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For The Young
Kathy Griffin - Suckin’ It For The Holidays
Say Anything - Say Anything
Shwayze - Let It Beat
Weezer - Raditude
A special 40th anniversary digital single of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Give Peace A Chance was released on iTunes today. The song was embraced as the theme for the anti-war moement in 1969 and has remained one of the classic songs of hope and peace known throughout the world.
Yoko Ono (shown at right with the late John Lennon in a photo by Ivor Sharp), EMI Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have released a special 40th anniversary version of the song on iTunes. The proceeds of sales through the end of 2009 will be donated to the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).
Formed in 2005, the PBC is an intergovernmental advisory commission that will support peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict. The PBC includes an Organizational Committee that is made up of 31 member countries. It also includes a Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) to address immediate peacebuilding needs in countries emerging from conflict at a time when other funding mechanisms are not available.
The cover art for the single features a peace symbol and parting clouds. It is a fitting image for a song about giving world peace a chance.
According to our AlbumArtExchange poll, the best album cover for the week of October 27, 2009 is for What Will We Be by Devendra Banhart. Splendor In The Grass by Pink Martini came in a distant second, followed by Tegan & Sara’s Sainthood.
The poll featuring six preselected album covers from this week’s new releases will be available later today. Check back and cast your vote!
Alternative rock band Weezer is known for using geeky humor in their music videos. However, their recent infomercial that promotes the their new album Raditude by including it with a special Weezer branded Snuggie is not a joke.
Those who order the infamous blanket with sleeves with the band’s name printed on the front will also get the Raditude CD. The Snuggie and Raditude combination comes in both a standard and deluxe version.
The album cover for Raditude caused an Internet sensation several weeks ago when it was revealed along with a Photoshop template that allows fans to add their own backgrounds to the image. The album was released today and is also available without the Snuggie on Amazon.com.
The King Khan & BBQ Show - Invisible Girl (2009)
Posted by: zeefritz
Chris Brown revealed the cover of his forthcoming album Graffit via Twitter today. The cover features Brown dressed in a skin tight black suit and wearing combat boots without laces. He also has an electric guitar resting on his shoulder as he points and shoots a spray can.
I think that it is supposed to look as f he is using spray paint to create the graffiti cartoon characters that appear in the bottom right corner of the cover. Instead, it looks like a science fiction inspired Raid commercial. Brown looks as if he is killing mutant cockroaches with a can of bug spray (right).
This is perhaps one of the most ridiculous album covers I have seen from a major recording artist in quite a long time. It may even be wacky enough to take some heat off of Adam Lambert for his recent album cover. Graffiti is scheduled to be releaed on December 15.
American electronic pop musician Adam Young records under the name Owl City. Young recently reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with the single Fireflies (right) from his album Ocean Eyes.
Ocean Eyes is currently the number eight album on the Billboard chart. What is interesting is that the cover art for the Fireflies single is much more elaborate and interesting than the cover of the album. Yet, I have been unable to find the cover for the single being used anywhere other than websites of the artist and the record label.
The album cover features a photograph of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. It is perhaps one of the most photographed modern buildings in the world. The cover of the Fireflies single is a night skyline. That is interesting because another track on Ocean Eyes is called Designer Skyline. I like both photographs even though they seem as if they were taken from a travel brochure. It is an interesting concept for now. However, I can imagine it getting old quite quickly.
One of my ongoing endeavors is to compile a list of the worst album covers ever created. Unlike other lists, the AlbumArtExchange blog will not include covers that are simply avant garde or parodies of other album covers.
Yesterday, I came across an album cover that is a genuine contender for one of the worst album covers of all time. The cover of The Evolution of the Homo by Homo Erectus features a pair of gorillas mating. That alone doesn’t qualify this cover as one of the worst. What makes the cover rise to that level is that is coupled with a title and concept that slurs gay people.
The bio from the Homo Erectus (a.k.a. Dimitri Papas) MySpace page makes it all too clear what this album is all about:
In his early years, Homo Erectus first discovered electronic sounds by distorting the sounds of the Organ he was forced to play, not realising that this was going to spawn him into someone different. Duran Duran, Devo, Brian Eno and Depeche Mode were some of his influences during this time. Recording and experimenting on cassette tapes was his only way of expressing his thoughts and feelings.
At the same time Homo Erectus discovered the Homo Sexual. The delicious scents, muscularity and manjuice of this specimen were too much for Homo Erectus to resist. Desires for the Homo Sexual became fulfilled and his quench for manjuice was satisfied.
If this is supposed to be satire, it really misses the mark. The concept for this album is certain to offfend people regardless of their sexual orientation. It is crude, childish and trite. Didn’t this type of thing die with Beavis and Butthead? “Heh, heh. He said homo.”
The Evolution of the Homo was released on October 31. You can listen to samples of the tracks from the album on Amazon.com. With song titles like Skank, Sex Machine Man and Big Thick Dick, you will know what to expect. I suppose that this kind of thing has an appeal to a certain type of dance club fanatic and those with immature tastes in music.
For me, this is about as low as it goes (except for the guy with the poop on his face). Fifth grade humor combined with a photograph that degrades two beautful and endangered animals puts this album cover in a class by itself.