The Year in Controversial Album Covers [NSFW]

By
Share:

It’s not a year in music without at least one good bout of hand-wringing over someone’s controversial album cover, and 2012 has been no exception. The album cover is something of a dying art form these days, although the return of vinyl in recent years has revived it somewhat — but still, in an age when we get more and more of our art in a digital form, it gets harder and harder to attract people’s attention. If nothing else, the covers in this feature most certainly do the attracting-people’s-attention bit just fine — whether they’re actually any good or not is a judgement we’ll leave up to you. (Warning — one of the images that awaits you below is pretty spectacularly NSFW, and if you’ve been following the ongoing shitfight between Death Grips and their former label Epic, you can probably guess what it is.)

Bat For Lashes — The Haunted Man

We really do wish we’d actually done this as a Halloween costume, although the rest of the party we attended probably agrees it’s a good idea we didn’t. In any case, Natasha Khan was justifiably confused at the controversy this cover caused — as she told Spinner in October, “It says something about our day and how we view women as sexual objects. I think I chose a specifically unsexy pose… I think it freaks people out because I’ve got no makeup on, there’s no retouching.” Indeed. Sigh.

Rihanna — Unapologetic

Similarly, the fact that Rihanna appearing topless on her own album cover is somehow controversial is a kinda depressing state of affairs, but controversial it definitely was. Sigh.

Death Grips — No Love Deep Web

This is the entire Death Grips/Sony “controversy” encapsulated in one image — juvenile and silly but rather amusing. We’re still not sure who to believe as far as the ins and outs (ahem) of the whole thing go, but we do know one thing for sure: leaking your own album with a cock on the cover is a pretty reliable way to get fired from your record label.

The Game — Jesus Piece

Why is Jesus depicted on a faux-stained window as a member of the Bloods here? Jayceon Taylor’s explanation for this album (and its accompanying art, presumably) is so gloriously absurd that we’re just gonna publish it verbatim, again: “I still love the strip club and I still smoke and drink. I’m faithful to my family, so I wanted to make an album where you could love God and be of God, but still get it poppin’ in your life.”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — Push the Sky Away

Sure, the album’s not actually out yet, but the art’s already been released, so we’re including it here. As we noted earlier in the week, we really like the new Bad Seeds song, but this cover art suggests Cave’s midlife crisis hasn’t quite been brought to a conclusion. It rather begs for a caption competition, too (you’re welcome to add your suggestions in the comments section.)

Cattle Decapitation — Monolith of Humanity

Obligatory radical right-baiting grindcore cover. (It’s not a patch on their 2004 crowning glory, Humanure, though.)

Beyoncé — 4

This album came out last year, but it was the subject of some controversy in January when it was re-released with the above promo photo, which shows Beyoncé looking awfully, y’know, white. Whether it’s the nefarious hand of Photoshop or just the high-fashion lighting responsible for the effect remains unclear, but either way, it’s not difficult to see why this raised eyebrows.

Ariel Pink & R Stevie Moore — Ku Klux Glam

Speaking of Photoshop, this looks like it was given to the design intern, who comped a naked woman into a graveyard, flattened the image, hit Command-I and then handed in the finished product. And then, of course, there’s the album title…

Two Door Cinema Club — Beacon

In which a tiresomely pubescent band reaches for adult cred by, um, suspending a woman from a hole in the ceiling. It doesn’t work like that, lads.

The Ting Tings — Sounds from Nowheresville

And finally, we’re not suggesting this rather uninviting image is a metaphor for the band’s career or anything, but it was rather tempting fate…