4Wish You Were Here by. Pink Floyd
A few years after founding member Syd Barrett lost his shit and left the group, Pink Floyd broke into the mainstream with a little LP called The Dark Side Of The Moon, the unofficial soundtrack for drug fueled viewings of The Wizard of Oz the world over. Because labels tend to think of recording artists as musical gumball machines, EMI did what record labels do best, pressuring Floyd to follow up their landmark achievement by making the exact same album. Eventually, the pressure became too intense. The band caved and recorded Wish You Were Here.
While the title track and its epic centerpiece, the two-part, 27-minute "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," celebrated the life and fall of Barrett, the rest of the album is a shit hot barb fired directly at the heart of greedy music industry executives. In an effort to drive this point home, the band recorded a video for "Welcome to the Machine" which depicts the artist-studio relationship with a delicate grace usually reserved for brutal genocide (you know, as opposed to the non-brutal kind):
Then there's the enigmatic line in "Have a Cigar," a tongue-in-cheek song told from the perspective of a greedy label manager who at one point says: "By the way, which one's Pink?" According to the band, this was a question actually asked of the group by saccharine managers who didn't understand that "Floyd, Pink" was not a person.
Topping off the album is the cover, picturing two businessmen shaking hands. One is calm and composed, looking confident that the deal being made is to his benefit; the other looking submissively downwards, almost groveling. Also, he's on fire. Subtle!
3Led Zeppelin IV by. Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin redefined what the blues could be, mostly by playing it louder than any of their contemporaries. Despite a fast-growing base of dedicated fans, critics responded coolly to Zeppelin's first album, a fact that every shit band since the 1970s has used to explain why that 1.5 star review doesn't matter. But instead of crying about the critics, the band responded by churning out their second album less than a year later. And another album about a year after that. Sure enough, the critics hated both of those albums also.
Too busy rocking your face off to give a shit.
By the time Zep was ready to head in to a studio for the fourth time, they were the biggest rock group, and also the most critically reviled. Since it clearly couldn't be their taste in music that was lacking, critics agreed that the only reason the band sold so many records was the words "Led" and "Zeppelin" were printed on the cover.
To combat this, the band, whose very name is allegedly also a fuck you, decided to release an album with no words on the outside, thereby allowing them to release it "anonymously." Instead of the more conventional method of writing the name of the band on the cover, the album was emblazoned with four mysterious symbols, to prove that the music could sell itself. They then took the logical fallacies present in this argument and buried them in mountains of cash, booze and groupie vag.
The end result: a record on shelves with no indication of where it came from, which nonetheless sold 37 million copies and finally convinced critics that they were wrong about the whole Led Zeppelin sucking thing.