Look, I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that there aren’t already at least three or four lists of the worst album covers ever out there on the internet. You know it and I know it. But this one is different, I swear! Because rather than trotting out the usual gallery of covers from provincial Christian groups or no-hit wonders that give new meaning to the word ‘obscure,’ I’m going after bigger targets — established acts that either had the budget or creative power to not release something hideous, but did anyway.
So here, then, are 20 of the worst album covers ever from artists that should know better.
#20. Steely Dan — The Royal Scam
Little-known Dan trivia: That’s actually the soon-to-be-unemployed graphic designer responsible for The Royal Scam pictured on its cover.
#19. Styx — Styx
What the hell is it with bands full of pasty white guys from the ’70s and this incessant need to pose shirtless for album covers? Still, it’s less embarrassing than most of Kilroy Was Here.
#18. Kiss — Hot in the Shade
In case you couldn’t tell that Kiss mailed it in on this one, there’s even a cancellation stamp in the corner.
#17. Jeff Beck — Emotion & Commotion
Ted Nugent is smacking himself for not thinking of this sooner.
#16. The Rolling Stones — Dirty Work
Charlie Watts is so ashamed of this day-glo abomination that he can’t even look us straight in the eye.
#15. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John -– This Christmas
I may one day forgive these two for foisting this upon the world, but I will never forget.
#14. Lesley Gore — Love Me By Name
It’s my party and I’ll shoot death rays out of my hands and airbrush my nipples if I want to.
#13. Dolly Parton — Bubbling Over
In a dystopian future, when Dollywood has become the model by which all of society operates, the benevolent but fearsome visage of Empress Parton will appear at will to smite all those who dare make one more boob joke.
#12. Emerson, Lake & Palmer — Love Beach
I tried to stay away from making fun of covers that basically boil down to “look at those hideous clothes!” but seriously — look at those hideous clothes. Keith Emerson (left) knows what a steaming turd this album is and is openly mocking you for having bought it. Meanwhile, Carl Palmer is preparing to deliver a crushing nut punch to Greg Lake as soon as the shoot is over.
#11. Scorpions — Fly to the Rainbow
Germans, man. What are you gonna do?
#10. Sia — Some People Have Real Problems
And some people have fucking stupid album covers that make them look like one of those kids that had to use rubber scissors in school.
#9. Lady Gaga — Born This Way
Jesus, I see better Photoshop jobs than this on Worth1000 every day. Then again, I do admire Lady Gaga’s commitment to raising transfender awareness.
#8. The Billy Cobham/George Duke Band — “Live” On Tour In Europe
Welp, I think I can forget about getting a good night’s sleep for the next few weeks at least.
#7. Eric Carmen — Tonight You’re Mine
No, you’ve got it all wrong. See, what’s happening here is that lady is choking on her own vomit after hearing Eric’s last record, and he’s just giving her the Heimlich maneuver.
#6. Bee Gees — High Civilization
This album came out in the spring of 1991, and the cover was already hilariously dated by the summer of 1991. I guess this was the Bee Gees’ way of showing that they could still be relevant and with-it in the high-tech ’90s. Instead it looks like the brochure for one of those “You Can Learn About Computers!” classes aimed at people who have to call tech support because they keep forgetting to turn their caps lock key off.
#5. Black Sabbath — Sabotage
So I was going to get into just why the band is not properly reflected in the mirror, per se, but ins–HOLY SHIT BILL WARD’S RED TIGHTS AND PACKAGE.
#4. The Blasters — The Blasters
Kids, let this be a reminder to get your full FDA-recommended daily allowance of fiber.
#3. Yes — Big Generator
The cover to Yes’ previous album, 90125, featured a sleek minimalism that accurately reflected the more stripped down sound the group had shifted toward. The cover to Big Generator, on the other hand, is soulless, neon ’80s horseshit.
#2. Daryl Hall & John Oates — Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Goddammit Oates, we’re trying to look all glam and androgynous here and that mustache is ruining everything! You know, one of these days I’m going to get tired of your bullshit and just go solo.”
“Yeah, right, that’ll be the day!”
#1. Godley & Creme — Snack Attack
It’s like they’re daring you to not buy this record. And here you thought Godley & Creme couldn’t get any creepier than they were in that “Cry” music video.