What makes an album cover great—or important?
The artwork serves as a portal into what the listener can expect from an album, and even what kind of musician lies behind the creativity. Strong album covers make a statement because after all, this imagery is an opportunity to make the right first impression.
20-Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010)
How do you follow up iconic album art like Demon Days? You could make another great album cover, or you could make another four as the Gorillaz did.
19-Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (1998)
From the album’s title (taken from the marketing slogan for Virginia Slims cigarettes) to its cover, featuring a s self-satisfied-looking, overweight man sporting a T-shirt that says “I’M #1 SO WHY TRY HARDER,”
18-Armand Van Helden – Killing Puritans (2000)
The startling cover was so controversial that UK versions were sold in cardboard sleeves that covered the image. —Anum Khan
17-The KLF – Chill Out (1990)
Sheep are lounging in this bucolic cover, which in the original versions, had no type or signage of any kind. It is an arresting pastoral image for a contemporary electronic music cover.
16-Felix da Housecat – Devin Dazzle & the Neon Fever (2004)
The artwork was designed by Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, who’s featured in the EDC Las Vegas 2015 print magazine.
15. Boys Noize – Oi Oi Oi (2007)
The branding was so good on this album cover that Boys Noize still uses it as his Facebook profile picture, nearly 10 years after its release.
14-Björk – Homogenic (1997)
Of the image, Björk told the Chicago Sun-Times that she was depicting a character who “had to become a warrior. A warrior who had to fight not with weapons, but with love. I had 10 kilos of hair on my head, and special contact lenses and a manicure that prevented me from eating with my fingers, and gaffer tape around my waist and high clogs so I couldn’t walk easily.” All worth it.
13-Tortoise – It’s All Around You (2004)
A slightly cropped version of a 1997 work by New York-based artist Oliver Wasow, this surreal depiction of Washington’s Mount Rainier composites facets of the natural landscape in an almost cubist manner, like a best-of brochure for the great outdoors that looms over the city
12-The Orb – Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991)
The cover shows a stylized turbine, designed by The Designers Republic.
11-Glasser – Ring (2010)
Along with the art for her Apply EP, it was created by Tauba Auerbach, who told Redefine she made the painting “by shattering a piece of glass on a panel, and then using the shards as a stencil, lifting up one at a time and spraying paint in the hole left by the missing piece.
10-Panda Bear – Meets the Grim Reaper (2015)
Designed by Swiss artist Marco Papiro
9-MSTRKRFT – The Looks (2006)
The cover art, created by design/art duo Seripop, won the Juno Award for Best CD/DVD Cover Design of the Year in 2007.
7-Aphex Twin – Drukqs (2001)
Cover Art, Piyano Müziği,
6-Funki Porcini – Fast Asleep (2002)
A cheeky note in the credits for this album reads: The Uterus Goldmine modelled and designed by Openmind (132 layers and counting). Openmind is, of course, Ninja Tune’s own Kevin Foakes, aka DJ Food, aka Strictly Kev, who has been a cornerstone of the groundbreaking British label from both a music and design perspective.
5-KMFDM – Angst (1993)
the cover was designed by Francesca Sundsten.
4-Air – Moon Safari (1998)
created by the two Frenchmen on the cover
3-Plastikman – Sheet One (1993)
The front inlay of Sheet One was perforated, giving it the look of a wall of LSD tabs. The cover was so realistic that a man in Texas was arrested when a police officer saw the CD on his car seat after pulling him over on a traffic violation in 1994.
2-The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation (1994)
All three unique pieces of artwork—front cover, rear sleeve, and inside sleeve, all designed by different artists—had an air of defiance about them (-the inside gatefold is particularly relevant today). Stuart Haygarth’s screaming face was the perfect visual complement to songs like “Their Law,” “Break & Enter” and “Poison,” and it distanced the band even further from their brightly colored rave roots.
1-Grace Jones – Island Life (1985)
The cover for this album was created by Jean-Paul Goude, who combined separate images to create it.