Thursday, December 30, 2010

MUSIC: Best Album Covers of 2010

Now that we have iPods and various other forms of digital media, we rarely see album covers. That's why I like to acknowledge the best ones every year, because I like to see how creative bands (and/or their record companies) can be.

The Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning
The Peas like to reinvent themselves with every album—always a party vibe, but never the same visual style. This time around they were going for a more video game aesthetic: pixelated, lego-like, and malleable. Aside from the fact that Fergie looks...more like Barbie than Fergie, I like their dedication to the new theme.
Brian Wilson - Reimagines Gershwin
I...don't know who Brian Wilson is, but I like that as the piano keys begin to separate and come apart, they not only get bigger but become colorful. It's like a metaphor for what the customer can look forward to: bland and conservative music is transformed into untamed and revitalized sounds. Of course I am assuming this because again, I have never heard his music. However, the cover is subtly enticing enough to attract a skimming eye.

Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops & Hooligans
Most new artists put their face on the cover and self-title it. I like that Bruno got artistic with it. It looks like a yellow brick road and a rocket—both symbols of a journey towards something great.

Weezer - Hurley
So the basic story behind the photo of Jorge Garcia is that band leader Rivers Cuomo took a photo with the "Lost" star and liked his mug so much that instead of just showing the band and naming it after themselves for a fourth time, they would use a random backstage photo and name it after his character. Now you could say they were using the series's fame to promote their album, implying that secrets to the series's ending lied within their lyrics since Hugo was left in charge of the island, but I just think it's funny that they didn't even get a professional photo of Jorge. They just slapped his lovable teddy bear mug on an album and called it Hurley. Genius? Maybe. Funny? Definitely. Why? Because there's nothing cuddly about this rock album.

James Blunt - Some Kind of Trouble
Again, I don't listen to James Blunt. Mainly because his voice annoys me. But who can resist a baby photo? Especially one where the baby is being thrown up in the air? I use to LOVE that as a kid. It was like I was flying.

Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
Self-portraits are hard to make artistic on an album cover. It usually veers towards the vain, especially with pop singers—I'm looking at you Mariah. I like this though. The lighting makes it look like he's in black-and-white and the rest of the world is in color. Then there's the added bonus of the distressed look, worn lines on the surface, which emphasize the title's allusion to an old tale. Plus, with the mention of a Man on the Moon, you'd think he'd do something a little more space-agey, but instead he does something far more subtle, adding stars as a backdrop, like a halo.

MercyMe - The Generous Mr. Lovewell 
Once again, I've never heard MercyMe's music, but this cover reminded me of that Magritte self-portrait that has a guy in a bowler hat with a green apple in front of his face. Granted, none of that is happening on this cover, but in the moment, that's what it reminded me of. I also liked that it looked like paper pop-ups—like an etsy design.
Robyn - Body Talk
At first glance, this kind of looks like Robyn stuck a bunch of post-its onto her body—not that I would put it past her—but after further examination it would appear that through computer manipulation, she's managed to isolate square-sized portions of the image to move them off kilter a bit into like a sculpted Monet. I specifically like the layers of square mouths—sort of saying that her voice is three dimensional and there are many layers to her music and her sound.

Take That - Progress
Not a fan, BUT I have this job where I have to find creative ways to illustrate the topic of an article. That's what this band's done with the title of their album. How do you show "progress"? They went the route of evolution, which apparently, by their theory, will go from walking to flying. The image itself was actually photographed, not drawn, by Nadav Kander, who also photographed President Barack Obama.

The Chemical Brothers - Further 
Heard of them, but never heard them. This cover, however, is one of many underwater covers that exist in music history. Unlike many others, though, the focus isn't on the fact that something is underwater, but on the water itself. It's like she is manifesting from the water, like it's apart of her. Plus, it's also a great illustration of the title.

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