Album covers are great ways of representing your music, provided your music is about being arrogant, having an ego problem, trying to be cool, being unaware of how retarded you look...
Before we begin examining the mistakes you need to avoid making when designing an album cover, let's take a moment to think about some album covers that are considered among the "greatest": Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Dark Side of the Moon. The Velvet Underground & Nico. Nevermind.
With songs dedicated to putting jewelry in their mouth, spinning rims, and pimp cups, rappers can make the trillionaires in their diamond towers green with envy. While Cracked is cool with the arrogant flaunting of disposable income, if your album cover features so much bling that it sparkles more than Edward Cullen on a nude beach in the bahamas, then you need to tone it down.
How sad. Snoop spent so much money tricking out his coliseum/mansion (maniseum? Colimansion?) and dog muzzle, he could only afford one golden helicopter.
Those pesky kids aren't going to steal any of Lil' Flip's lucky charms!
An unspoken rule of rap music is that if your name has an animal in it, you must reference it on your album cover.
Let's say you or your band's lead singer has a bit of an ego. Not a Bono-sized ego, but something the size of a blimp or a Costco. How do you satisfy their ego?
Portray them as a relgious figure! In this case, an angel that's been spray painted onto the side of a van.
Jesus never looked so fuckable!
Is your lead singer the unbearable gothic-type who wants to make everything surreal and creepy under the guise of making it "artistic?" (Short version: Is your lead singer Marilyn Manson?)
Throw him/her on the cross! Chances are they'll be making a "controversial" album that compares religion and Hollywood. If you're lucky, nobody will notice the lack of musical talent.
You know who else is popular? Adam!
Because inserting yourself into a Michelangelo painting is a totally non-retarded way of saying you're "the grandest of them all."
And for the ladies out there, you can be Eve!
Yes, because what woman wouldn't want to represent Eve, the woman responsible for original sin and damning all of mankind?
We are all well aware that rock bands are prone to immoral things like cocaine parties, all-night orgies, and parking tickets and therefore aren't the best role models. You know who are symbols of good moral character? Children!
Holy fuck, people. How can we buy your album if doing so means being labeled a sex offender?
So you're in an "indie band." Whether your band is called "Disco Armada Emporium" or "My Boyfriend is A Negro," or you play "reggae breakbeat gospel" or "post-industrial dance folk," one thing is clear: at some point, you'll need an album describing how you are pretty musical butterfly in a world of musical sheeple.
The problem with indie album covers is not that they're creative, it's that they assume they need to be as creative as possible. Listen, if your band is called "Arithmetic in Hong Kong" and your line-up includes a guy whose sole purpose is to run around on stage playing a snare drum, we already know you won't sound like Nickelback.
Sadly, far too many bands cram as much avant-garde, abstract, random nonsense on to their album cover, and instead of being retarded in an "ironic" sense, the result is retarded in "holy shit, that's the most retarded thing I've ever seen" sense.
Without further ado...
"Our music can be described as the mutant spawn of R. Crumb and Lady Gaga on LSD and covered in turds!"
We're not sure what peacock feathers and a swan have to do with an abused Kate Winslet, but our finest scientists are working day and night to find out.
The top half looks like some nicely-covered architecture, but then it goes downhill from there.
Okay, now this is just bad performance art. It looks like one of the Pacman ghosts decided to pursue a career in modeling, and the other ghosts weren't happy.
The sheer number of things crammed into this cover without regards to coherence or meaning leads us to believe that George Lucas had a hand in its creation.
We're not saying bands can't get political. Some of music's finest tunes (CCR's "Fortunate Son," Springsteen's "Born in the USA," Neil Young's "Ohio," etc) revolve around political issues, and Rage Against The Machine built their career around "FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!"
Speaking of RATM, let's have a look at one of their album covers:
This is a (relatively) good album cover. It's a photo of that Buddhist monk known for his self-immolation (shown above) in protest of the Dinh Diem administration in South Vietnam. It's usually a cop-out when a band uses a well-known photo for their cover, but in this case, it represents RATM fairly well. The message is clear to the reader: RATM is bold, explicit, unflinching, and is tired of the government's bullshit.
Let's compare that with Ministry's Filth Pig:
Explain what this means. No, seriously. We have no idea what the point of this picture is.
He's holding an American flag...so he's an American? He represents America? Patriotism? He's wearing a suit, so he's either rich, upper-class, or part of a corporation...Why the hell is he wearing a slab of meat for a hat?
Well, let's give Ministry a second shot:
Alright, so we get that the stealth bombers and oil fields are some statement regarding Bush and how he invaded the Middle East for their oil (way to be subtle!). What we don't get is why Bush is represented as some sort of zombie Jesus who is rising out of an oil drum (covered in roses) with the "all-seeing eye" tattooed on his forehead.
However, his hands indicate that Zombie Jesus Bush is enjoying Ministry's style of industrial metal, so we guess that means you should buy this album.
In case you couldn't tell, Bongzilla's (a stoner metal band) members enjoy smoking cannabis. Some of their songs promote legalization, and while that's all fine and dandy, this album cover looks like some sort of anti-weed propaganda saying that legalization would turn our troops into green-skinned zombies as our country is overrun by Mary Jane.
So yeah, if you have a political message in your music, make sure your album art doesn't take the opposite stance.
Similar to the Filth Pig cover, Appeal to Reason also lacks a clear message. However, it's not because they had Eminem wearing a meat hat. It's because they through in random objects and symbols (gas mask, barbed wire, a baby, etc) as a way to present some sort of political message.
What message could that possibly be? The dangers that scissors pose to our rechargable babies? We need gun control for our nicely-dressed gas mask-wearing citizens? That we need better teachers for art class?
Is there a better way to express your discontent of a president than the one shown here? Yes, but none of them involve Hitler mustaches and bullet angel wings.
We know you're dying to see giant birds with tits, but we want to point out that we're not singling out furries because they're furries. We're singling them out here because regardless of whether or not the animal-human hybrid is doing something sexual (it's worth noting that the whole "furry" fandom lifestyle is not a purely sexual thing), it just looks retarded.
Case in point:
This features anthropomorphc animals, and there's nothing sexual about it. This doesn't make it look any less retarded. What we have here is "Planet of the Parrots," a sci-fi flick that not even the "SyFy" channel would air, and they aired Dinoshark.
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." -H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
"What the fucking balls is going on in this picture?" -H.P. Lovecraft, seeing the above album cover.
The Dirtbombs are actually a pretty cool band, and they kinda sound like The White Stripes and The Hives, but with two drummers. The lead singer is a furry, and this is the only explanation we can find this was the final album cover.
All we can say is that if you can go to your (presumably) non-furry band members and convince them that "a bunch of dog-men watching a cat-woman strip topless" sums up your music (for your debut album no less), then your balls probably double as a kevlar vest.
Scorpio: Your fiery energy is practically forcing you to have fun today, no matter what's on your schedule. You may treat your chores or meetings like games, but that just means they go by faster.
Aries: You have a great deal of power at your disposal today, Aries.
Sagittarius: You will get boned by a unicorn under a full moon. Good luck with that.
Bet you thought we were kidding about the "giant birds with tits."
NOFX has some issues.
Yeah. We're not even going to show you the cover of their "Eating Lamb" LP.
A ventriloquist act involves a sad sack of a man talking to a wooden puppet. The sad sack moves the puppet's jaw and throws his voice, giving the illusion that the puppet is a living, breathing, Godless abomination.
Since the whole purpose of the act relies on the audience seeing the dummy move and "speak," putting this into album form kicks the entire point into the endless depths of space, which is actually probably for the best. Dummies are fucking creepy (we've all seen that one Goosebumps episode).
So instead of seeing a man talk to a wooden mutant, we get to listen to a guy talk to himself. This would be a lot more depressing if the album art wasn't so fantastically retarded.
The weak smile and shattered teeth reveal the harsh abuse that goes on behind the scenes.
If the trees can in fact, talk, I imagine they'd have a few choice words to say about how one of their tree friends was turned into a Michael Jackson doll.
RUN, GRANDPA! JESUS CHRIST, RUN!
Speaking of Jesus...
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites this: 'You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven.' Then Boppo, the wooden puppet of the LORD, said as HE took a drink of water: 'Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.'" -Exodus 20:22
This is the word of the lord.