Pink Floyd — ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ (1973)
Funny how one of the most memorable album covers of all time is really something quite simple. The simple design was inspired by an image the design team found within a physics textbook. It was perfect for this album as the band suggested that the cover be “something clean, elegant and graphic.”
The Beatles — ‘The Beatles’ (1968)
Known by most as ‘The White Album,’ this 1968 double-album sports nothing but a white canvas and the name of the band. The simplicity of the cover apparently stemmed from the idea that the band wanted to do ‘the complete’ opposite of the wild and colourful ‘Pepper’ album that preceded it.
Kanye West — ‘The College Dropout’ (2004)
The incredible debut album by Kanye West featured a cover that was unlike anything else in the rap genre at the time. Kanye wanted the album to feature some form of style and elegance to contrast with the stuff found within the album. The cover features Kanye wearing a bear suit (later known a dropout bear) on some bleachers, surrounded by filigree.
Eminem — ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ (2000)
It’s no secret that Eminem grew up in Detroit. His rough upbringing was a constant theme in his early music. This album cover features him sitting on the steps of the actual house he grew up in and is supposed to show a man who has grown up and succeeded despite the hardship.
Michael Jackson — ‘Thriller’ (1982)
This iconic album cover doesn’t have any particularly deep meaning or anything, but there IS a bit of a funny story behind the suit. The white suit Michael is wearing is the exact one that the photographer, Dick Zimmerman, was wearing that very day. Michael had reportedly asked him if he could wear something like it, so Dick got out of the suit (lol) and gave it to Michael to wear. The shoot lasted 6 hours.
Bruce Springsteen — ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ (1984)
I know that most albums on this list can rightfully be considered iconic, but… c’mon. This one is great. Bruce stood in front of a giant American Flag while Annie Leibovitz took plenty of shots in the hopes of something perfect coming out of it. This was the once. Bruce famously said of the cover: “the picture of my @$$ looked better than the picture of my face.”
Coldplay — ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’ (2002)
Talk about a happy accident… This album cover was the result of a technological [email protected]#k up in the 90s when Sølve Sundsbø designed an image for a magazine. The image featured a woman wearing a cape, and it was put through a 3D scanner. The technological limitations resulted in the woman being beheaded and left with ‘spikes’ sticking out of her back. Chris Martin of Coldplay loved the image so much, he asked if he could use it for an album cover.
David Bowie — ‘Heroes’ (1977)
This album cover comes from a photoshoot that wasn’t done for the purpose of an album cover. While visiting Tokyo, David did a shoot with photographer Masayoshi Sukita. After seeing the prints, Bowie asked if he could use one for an album cover, and Masayoshi said yes. They both agreed that the shot of him just after running his fingers through his hair. The word “heroes” is in quotes which showcases Bowie’s thoughts on the idea of heroism.
Taylor Swift — ‘1989’ (2014)
To pay homage to the year she was born, Taylor Swift really wanted to make the album cover a true snapshot that had both ‘The 80s’ and ‘the present’ in one shot. 460 polaroid shots later, and the album cover was born. The sharpie ink for the title is a nice little touch as well.
Fleetwood Mac — ‘Rumours’ (1977)
This bizarre album cover was the result of photographer Herbert Worthington handing the band a step stool and giving them the idea of the cover being ‘mystical.’ The little spheres dangling between Mick’s legs are actually from a toilet flushing chain that he had stolen.
Van Halen — ‘1984’ (1984)
When Van Halen commissioned artist Margo Nahas (who had done work for Prince and Tom Petty) they had wanted her to have 4 chrome-covered women dancing on it. Margo said that the idea was too hard to draw, so her husband brought the band a collection of other pieces that she had painted. The smoking angel was one of them. The band loved it, and the rest is history.
U2 — ‘War’ (1983)
Photographer Steve Averill was inspired by images he saw of kids being rounded up during the holocaust when he came up with the idea for his cover. The kid used in the over is Peter Rowan, who would go on to be in a total of 5 u2 album covers.
N.W.A. — ‘Straight Outta Compton’ (1988)
When Eric Poppleton and Kevin Hosmann were hired to take photos for this album, they drove around LA looking for the perfect opportunity to shoot. Eventually, Kevin Hosmann decided to lie on the ground and have the members look down at the camera.
“You’re taking the perspective of someone who is about to be killed,” Poppleton told CNN later. “In hindsight, it was just so provocative.”
The White Stripes — ‘Elephant’ (2003)
This…incredibly red album cover was shot by the band’s photographer Patrick Pantano. The more you look, the more bizarre it becomes. I never even noticed the skull in the background until recently. Anyway, the bizarre way in which the two are sitting was supposedly an attempt to form an elephant head.