Aside from talent, album covers are a great way to get fans to purchase new music. Sadly, some artists took the notion of making a cool, quirky, and different album cover to the extreme, making some questionable choices that resulted in weird artwork.
From big names such as Nine Inch Nails and The Band to more independent and religious musicians, these artists might have questioned what they were thinking after releasing these weird album covers.
Queen: The Miracle
There are many people out there who think Queen can do no wrong; their vocals and showmanship are unparalleled. As it turns out, artistry and creativity only go so far.
In 1989, Queen released The Miracle. The final album showcased the original band’s faces on the cover. Unfortunately, the faces were meshed together in some weird illusion that can only be described as alien.
Crosby, Stills & Nash: Live It Up
Released in 1990, Live it Up was Crosby, Stills & Nash’s fourth studio album and the first that did not receive a gold or platinum certification. With generic and mindless tracks, it seems as though the music wasn’t the only thing off with the album.
The other thing is the strange concept of hot dogs on sharpened sticks with miniature lumberjacks climbing to cut them down. To top it off, the hot dog scene is set on the moon, for reasons unknown.
The Bee Gees: Life In A Tin Can
For their eleventh studio album, Life in a Tin Can, the Bee Gees threw creativity out of the window and stuck with cover art that literally depicted them living in a tin can.
Whether that tin can is a can of soda, tuna fish, or soup is up for interpretation.
You Blew It!: Grow Up, Dude
The emo band You Blew It! showed their raw charm in their first studio album, Grow up, Dude. Even though the album was met with positive reviews, there is nothing to say other than the band literally blew it when it came to their album cover.
The dad and son picture would have been fine if it weren’t weirdly off-centered and extremely awkward.
Lady Gaga: Born This Way
While Born This Way sold a solid 5.2 million physical copies, the cover art Lady Gaga chose for her second studio album leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The artwork depicts the singer as a half-motorcycle half-woman robot.
As one might guess, neither fans nor critics were fans of the cover, saying it looked like a reject from one of the Terminator films.
Jefferson Airplane: Thirty Seconds Over Winterland
One of the pioneering bands of psychedelic rock, Jefferson Starship was one of the first San Francisco bands to get out of the underground scene to achieve commercial success. In 1989, that success brought on a live album, Thirty Seconds to Winterland.
Unfortunately, someone clearly didn’t advise the band’s cover art decision, and fans wound up with flying toasters in the sky, complete with clocks, and all showing a different time.
Wally Whyton: It’s Me, Mum!
British musician and songwriter Wally Whyton wasn’t messing around when he posed for his album cover, It’s Me, Mum! Playing off the stereotype of people saying hi to their moms on television, Whyton literally waves at the camera, smiling while holding his guitar.
It’s a bit unsettling if you look at it for an extended period of time.
Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty
The hip-hop group Beastie Boys found mainstream success in the 1990s. One of the albums released that year was Hello Nasty, a critically acclaimed collection that won two Grammy Awards.
Even so, the cover art is something to discuss, as it depicts the three band members packed in a sardine tin and baking in the sun. While the band references the art on the track “Body Movin’,” it doesn’t make it any less strange.
The Texas Chainsaw Orchestra’s Self-Titled Album
When it comes to the Texas Chainsaw Orchestra’s self-titled album, many critics compared the music to that of inebriated robots, saying that just because all of the instruments can be found at a local hardware store doesn’t mean they should.
Alas, nothing on the album of strange cover music, such as “My Heart Will Go On,” is quite as bad as the album cover, showcasing the band with a strange pink banner while they’re on some medieval-looking stage with a conductor in front of them.
Fleetwood Mac: Mystery To Me
In 1973, Fleetwood Mac released their eighth studio album, Mystery to Me. While the album found moderate success, there was no bigger mystery than the chosen cover art.
Whoever thought a caricature of an ape eating not only a cake but also a corner of a book, all while standing on the beach, was a good idea should have a stern talking to.
David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant
The album Love This Giant was a collaboration between songwriter David Byrne and St. Vincent. Released in 2012, the album was met with positive reviews, with one stating that it was “a perfect cerebral pop pairing.”
Unfortunately, the music is a bit overshadowed by the strange cover art the two opted to use, illustrating them with bizarre jawlines and cheekbones that make them look alien.
Nine Inch Nails: X-Posed: The Interview
While Nine Inch Nails is a popular rock band, they took a downward turn when it came to X-Posed: The Interview. Not only is the close-up photo with the censored-looking text weird, but the album as a whole did not do well.
On AllMusic, X-posed: The Interview was given a solid one-and-a-half-star rating.
Wayne Cochran: Goin’ Back To Miami
Wayne Cochran was a soul singer known for his eccentric outfits and even crazier white pompadour hairstyle, something he opted to showcase on his album Goin’ Back to Miami.
Starting in the music industry in the 1950s, “The White Knight of Soul” probably wasn’t welcomed back to Miami after its residents saw this album cover.
The Cooper Family: I’m God’s Child
When it comes to this religious album, these adults somehow manage to rope their entire family into the mix.
Unfortunately, that resulted in cover art that resembles an awkward family portrait, complete with matching outfits, mom’s telescope-strength glasses, and a fake brick wall and fireplace to bring everything together.
Gary: Getting Down To Business
Gary was really feeling himself when he decided having a photograph of himself on the cover of his album Getting Down to Business was a good idea.
While it is common for artists to have images of themselves on their cover art, Gary’s flare jeans and model-ready pose are a bit too much to handle.
The Singing Richey Family: I’m Going Home…To Watch The Flowers Bloom
A family of gospel singers, The Singing Richey Family is no doubt questioning their reasoning behind this strange and horribly awkward album cover. Not only did they have the little girl sport a hairstyle more appropriate for the prom, but she is matching her mom.
While the mother and daughter are weirdly looking out into the distance, the father is staring into the camera, taking the soul of anyone who is unfortunate enough to stumble upon this album cover.
Ken: By Request Only
Sporting a solid mustache only appropriate for the 1970s, Ken probably wouldn’t be taking requests from anyone who asks to see this weird album cover.
He went straight for the 1970s ’80s music video ballad vibe with the stoic closeup and far away portrait, complete with a disco-era white suit and flashy shirt.
The Band: High On The Hog
While The Band’s ninth studio album High on the Hog received okay ratings, there is really no getting past their weird choice of cover art. Does the gangster-looking pig go along with the album’s title? Technically, yes.
Does that mean The Band couldn’t figure out another direction to take the artwork? No. It was a very strange choice for a band that is historically very low-key and all about the music.
Adema: Topple The Giants
Straight out of California, Adema released their Topple the Giants EP in 2013. While there is little to say about their sound, there is a whole lot to say about their horribly photoshopped cover art.
Considered one of the worst album covers ever, Adema is seen fighting off a giant in a medieval-looking setting.
Swamp Dogg: Rat On!
Swamp Dogg has been called one of the greatest cult figures of 20th-century music. And after looking at the cover art for his album Rat On!, it really isn’t hard to see why.
The artwork went for a more literal interpretation of the album name, having Swamp Dogg riding a white rat while wearing an interesting getup, complete with a fringe vest.