With almost two months gone in 2016, a lot of music has already been released for the not so New Year. Numerous albums have been released in the short period, which not only offer listeners tons of listening material but also displays of interesting album art.
From abstract to vivid, graphic to subtle, album art has remained an integral and relevant part of selling music since Alex Stienweiss first custom-designed record album covers in 1938. But, what makes a great album cover? Judging by the types of album covers that have been made over the years, and those that have already been released in 2016, that’s not an easy question to answer. There have been stunningly beautiful album art in the past on recordings that didn’t do well, regardless of the quality of the music, while there has been artwork that many would consider hard to explain, to say the least, which have graced the covers of top selling albums.
With that said, here are 5 eye-catching covers that are on albums released in 2016:
1. Anti – Rihanna
On the lips of many for much of 2015, Anti finally dropped in late January to much fanfare. However, the album sparked discussion last October when the official artwork was released. Back then, Riri and artist, Roy Nachum, disclosed that the album art was revolutionary and contained a bunch of hidden meanings. To begin with, the cover has a poem
written in braille, which is said to be a first, and features an obscured picture of Rihanna as a child, wearing a golden crown over her eyes and holding a black balloon. A blotch of red completes the look, giving the album cover somewhat of an eerie, other-worldly look. Among the number of hidden meanings that the album cover depict include Rihanna’s explanation about the braille being a metaphor for people being blind even though they can see.
2. Blackstar – David Bowie
Possibly one of the simplest album covers you will see, David Bowie’s last album featured a five-point, large black star and snippets of smaller black stars beneath it. The album was actually launched only a few days before Bowie died and was roundly criticized by many of his fans, not for the musical content, but for the artwork, or lack of it so to speak. Jonathan Barnbrook, the man behind the design has defended his work since then, pointing out a lot of symbolism coming out of the simplicity of the ‘Blackstar’. According to him, it represented a sort of finality and mortality that David Bowie wanted to convey and even went on to posit that it could even symbolize the end of the world.
3. This is Acting – Sia
An album filled with songs rejected by other accomplished artistes, Sia’s new album has a rather unique photograph on its cover. So far, a number of fans have described as ‘scary’ the facial shot of a girl with dreary eyes, a somewhat fabricated nose and a duck-mouthed expression. The girl in the picture also has what looks like an abnormally long neck and sees her holding both hands to her head, on which is perched a black and white wig. The highly successful singer-songwriter has since described the cover as a ‘fun’ piece of artwork depicting the album’s title.
4. Nine Track Mind – Charlie Puth
Charlie Puth’s debut album has a pretty cover that almost any music lover could tell is his first. The vivid artwork consists of a face and upper body photograph of the “See you Again” (Fast and Furious 7) singer in a lively but earthy, green shirt, posing against a bright yellow backdrop. The picture of the artiste provides a straightforward album cover but if you look a little closely, Charlie’s right eyebrow adds a bit of drama. It actually has a scar, which resulted from a canine attack when he was a kid. Apart from that, the colors work well together making it a very eye-catching album cover.
5. Wildfire – Rachel Platten
With 2015 being a breakout year for the pop singer, Rachel Platten launched her first major album on the first day of the year. The album art, although somewhat abstract, has eye-catching elements such as the word “Wildfire” which looks more like fireworks, and features a slightly obscured picture of Platten. While not very colorful or graphic, Rachel Platten’s dead-on stare manages to grab the eyes of even a casual passer-by, possibly expressing the term ‘wildfire’ better than the actual words.
Just as the quality of the music included in the tracks are important, the album cover has proven to be just as essential over the years. In addition to attracting visual attention, the album cover also gives identity to the artist and music.