It has been stated that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” but can the like be true for an album’s graphical equivalent? Musicians can use album artwork to compress the attitude and sonics of their music into a tangible portrayal. We have listed down a few instances where they got it right by teaming up with outstanding artists to allow their followers and listeners to see as well as hear their music.
“It seemed appropriate to go back to the start to one of the very first things I learned about and loved: the world’s colors,” Columbian reggaeton artist J Balvin tells Architectural Digest when asked about the concept of his fourth studio album, Colores. Balvin chose Japanese modern artist Takashi Murakami to incorporate the bright and strong sound of his music into the album cover since he has been a fan of his art for years. Murakami’s characteristic 3D cheerful flowers are depicted in dramatic colors of blue, yellow, and bright pink in the finished cover.
Andy Warhol was not only the cover artist for The Velvet Underground’s studio album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, released in 1967, but he was also the group’s producer, manager, and mentor at the time of its production. The record is tapering of New York’s art culture with sensual rhythms and contentious lyrics that fit the genre of alternative rock before the phrase existed and is joined by German vocalist Nico at Warhol’s insistence. Warhol’s art print became the album cover, a banana-shaped sticker with the experience to peel off in order to reveal the fruit below it and was postponed when the record was being manufactured.
Kanye West, the hip-hop icon and pop-culture performance artist, was imaginative in Hawaii in the spring of 2010 to avoid the fallout from his “I’m going to let you finish” statement when he called modernist visual artist George Condo and asked if he could partner up on the album artwork for his fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The result was the development of five visual depictions of West’s long and backhanded apology – a realist, self-reflective, and euphoric record. West is seen under a nude winged harpy on the NSFW center cover, which, like the album itself, was bold. It was notably banned from many record stores.
Lady Gaga’s work with well-known visual artist Jeff Koons was featured on the artwork of her third album, Art Pop, as well as the track “Applause” from the album itself. “One second I’m a Koons, then suddenly he is me,” she references in the song on the confluence of music, art, and herself. Gaga is shown naked with a metal ball in between her legs and pieces of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Bernini’s Apollo scattered on her cover. The vibrant artwork, was described by Gaga as a “true picture of my psyche via his.”
It is not only about the song when it comes to music. Mainly, the sounds are the most important aspect, but you cannot overlook the importance of the cover art in creating a good record. Cover art has evolved throughout time, from wrap folds on vinyl to squeeze liner notes in CD cases to the little symbol on an mp3 player, it still influences how people view a specific album.