Good album art is arresting. It grabs your attention, pulls you in, and gets you asking questions. But bad album art gets you asking questions, too. Like, What the hell is this? Why has this person committed this crime against my eyes? Bad album art grabs your attention — and tosses it clear across the universe, never to be seen again. Here are the 10 worst album covers of 2010 — 10 shining examples of why it’s sometimes better to block out the “artwork” section on your iTunes.
10 Ne-Yo: Libra Scale
R&B powerhouse Ne-Yo’s fourth album, Libra Scale, is, get this, a concept album about three garbage men who become superheroes and eventually have to choose between saving the world and falling in love. Right. Whatever the premise may be, there’s way too much going on with this cover, and none of it is good.
09 Weezer: Hurley
Depending on which member of Weezer you ask, the band’s eighth album, Hurley, is either named after the clothing company Hurley International, who recently collaborated with the band on a line of outerwear and reportedly funded the album’s recording in part, or it’s a celebration of Jorge Garcia’s affable, rotund character on Lost. We get it! It’s called Hurley, and there’s a picture of Hurley! So meta!
08 Ghostface Killah: Apollo Kids
Ghostface Killah is undoubtedly a hip-hop legend, but his album art game has gotten more than a few heads scratched lately. He made the list for last year’s PhotoShop fiasco, Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry, and this year’s Apollo Kids has granted him his second consecutive spot on this list. Apollo Kids, with its slapdash, neon Saved by the Bell ambiance, is not a good look.
07 MGMT: Congratulations
MGMT’s psych-pop freakout of a sophomore album, Congratulations, wasn’t what people expected, and it left the band’s fanbase severely divided over its merits. Its cover, however is a different story. This thing should’ve remained on the deserted Disney backlot trash bin it looks like it was fished out of.
06 Sheek Louch: Donnie G: Don Gorilla
The outrage over the cover to Donnie G: Don Gorilla is not lost on the LOX veteran Sheek Louch. He maintains that his use of primate imagery is a statement about toughness, not race. Even so, Donnie G’s cover is a mess. It could’ve been worse, though. Asked about the art in an interview, he retorted that “it was either gonna be that, or it was gonna be a gorilla arm with a bunch of monkeys kissin’ that shit.” Thanks?
05 M.I.A.: /\/\/\Y/\
/\/\/\Y/\, M.I.A.’s statement about love in the age of social media, came wrapped in terse and marginally excitable beats and a double dose of hamfisted agitprop. Whatever M.I.A.’s point about technology may have been (something about killing gingers and the handbone being connected to the Google being connected to the government?), it came with this child’s first computer-class-assignment of a cover.
04 Soundgarden: Telephantasm
Something about the cover to the newly reunited Soundgarden’s second greatest-hits album, Telephantasm, is odd. Is it the bunch-of-random-shit-thrown-together-and-painted-crazy-colors aesthetic? Or is it how much it resembles the scene in The Never-Ending Story when the beast Gmork tries to kill Atreyu after his horse dies? Yep, that’s it.
03 Mike Watt: Hyphenated-Man
Punk legend Mike Watt has a storied history working in seminal bands, from his membership in California’s Minutemen to his current gig in Iggy Pop’s reconstituted Stooges. Watt’s latest solo album, Hyphenated-Man, consists of a series of vignettes inspired by the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, but between the goofy skewered beast and the amateurish Comic Sans type, yuck. Just, yuck.
02 Grinderman: “Heathen Child”
Many of us here at Prefix are Nick Cave fans, so it is with great consternation that we find ourselves including the grossly unsexy art for Grinderman’s “Heathen Child” single among the year’s worst covers. The naked vampire Beyonce she-beast doesn’t especially beg for a second glance. No one’s putting a ring on that. No one’s getting bodied with that around.
01 CocoRosie: Grey Oceans
Arts and crafts project gone wrong? Acid trip to remember? Cotton-candy overdose? Concept art for When Felt Attacks? Silly string porn? Transgender LARPer convention? You decide. Whatever the cover of CocoRosie’s Grey Oceans purports to be a picture of, we know this: It is by far the worst album cover of 2010.
There are plenty more where these came from (I’m looking at you, eagle carrying the guitar on the cover of the latest Jeff Beck album). In the comments below, tell us what we missed.