The Best Albums with The Worst Cover Art

Music and Art are two of my favourite things. They are two things that are completely irrelevant to our survival as the human race, yet as people, we find them to be so important. And when they come together, and great albums have great artwork, it’s a thing of beauty. However, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes great albums have shit artwork. I’m not sure how it happens, but it does, so here are a few of my favourite albums with the worst cover art.

We’ll start off with a pretty easy one. Commonly regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys changed the game with this body of work. Unfortunately their Art Director doesn’t seem to have been as inspired as the musicians. Some of the band aren’t even in focus. This cover sucks.

Undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of our time, Michael Jackson released Thriller in 1982, and it would go on to become one of the highest selling records of all time. As of 2015, Thriller had sold over 30 million copies in the U.S. alone. I bet you none of those 30 million were bought because of the artwork. Look closely at his button up shirt. It’s not a button up. It’s got a zip. It’s a zip up. At least he’s in focus, I guess.

Outkast are the greatest. And most of their album art is awesome. But this is their first album, before LA Reid gave them a mad Art Direction budget. This is the hood art. And while hood art is often some of the best art (see everything released by Cash Money in the nineties), this cover super boring, especially when you consider just how innovative and exciting the music from the album is. Cummon guys.

This was the second cassette tape I ever owned. Great album by a great band. And yes, I know the album art is now pretty iconic, and as soon as you see it, you hear Anthony Kiedis singing so beautifully off key in your head, but seriously. This artwork looks like someone’s first time using Photoshop. “Let’s swap the sky and the water and fuck with the colours!”. Genius

Lupe Fiasco’s debut album ‘Food & Liquor’ is post-golden age hip hop masterpiece. Unfortunately, the cover looks like it was designed by a young Lupe fan, to be uploaded to DeviantArt, only to be later removed by an administrator because it uses an unlicensed typeface from

Prince has brought the world so much joy. So many great songs from so many great albums, some of which had amazing album art. Others, not so much. For reference, the name of this album is ‘Lovesexy’.

Common is one of the last remaining golden age pioneers to still be making relevant music to this day. His 2007 album ‘Finding Forever’ is lyrically a top-notch project, and with production coming primarily from a young Kanye West, the beats are flame emojis. As for the cover art, please see the above Lupe Fiasco album art description.

I can’t say I know this album all too well, but I’m told that it is generally regarded as a pretty classic live recording. What I do know, is that this artwork is, for lack of a better term, wack. The guy’s face kinda looks like Jimmy Fallon. The donkey looks bored.

When it comes to great music with terrible artwork, Lionel may be the king. It’s like he did one photoshoot in like 1982, and had a bunch of wardrobe changes, and then just used those photos as ALL of his album art for next decade. Bloody good mustache, though.

When Mos Def and Talib Kweli joined forces to create Black Star, the hip hop community rejoiced. We couldn’t believe our luck; two of the greatest, together, on the same album. The cover looks like one of those experimental photoshop sessions, where you just use ALL the Effects. What a shame.

Crosby Stills & Nash created some truly timeless music. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Multi-genre, multi-instrument, multi-everything great music. But I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in this album cover.

Sorry, Lorde. You’re awesome, but you’re better than this…

Of course Mr. West had to feature on this list. I’m a huge fan of his. His album art is always awesome (with the exception of ‘Yeezus’, because that artwork obviously sucks). And I thought The Life of Pablo was a great album. I did not feel the same about the artwork. I’ve criticised a lot of the cover art on this post as being poorly Photoshopped. This one is poorly Microsoft Painted. Bad.

So there you have it; my list of great albums with shit art. Now, here are some albums with shit art, regardless of what the music is like…

Looks exciting…

Please don’t let them touch him…

Do you reckon Ken got many requests?

Sorry Mrs Mills I’m busy that night, or something…

Looks like a fun gap year…


1 Comment