Album Cover Art: A List of My Favorites

11 cover designs that have my heart


Photo by Ezra Baze

Album cover art can act as a powerful visual tool for music artists, and I decided to list some of my favorites.

Album covers are the visual aid that can set the entire tone for an album. Cover art prepares listeners for the musical journey the collection of songs will take them on. While an album cover doesn’t necessarily reveal the quality of an album, I appreciate well-made art in any form, which is why I’ve decided to compile a list of my personal favorites, all of which I love equally.

“Fine Line” by Harry Styles

Harry Styles never fails to make an album cover iconic, but “Fine Line” totally depicts his style and the era that the 12 tracks produced. The picture is right next to perfect, minus the ominous hand in the corner of the photo, but still, I find the pink and blue image very intriguing and the ideal representation of his music.

“Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers

While under low lighting, the “Punisher” cover seems under-detailed, further analysis takes this picture to the next level. This album cover flawlessly encapsulates Bridgers’s vibe with its darker tones and her trademark in her skeleton suit. The art is otherworldly in a sense. The desert scene lit up red, and a beautiful night sky background contrasts nicely, clearly defining her signature style.

“Queen II” by Queen

This album cover is so cool. It sounds chliche, but that’s the only way to describe it properly. Darkness encloses the band’s faces creating the classic Queen look. This album cover appears simplistic, but it has numerous components that set the album apart and create the group’s brand.

“Melodrama” by Lorde

The modern-day, almost Van-Gogh-style painting that is the “Melodrama” cover is one I whole-heartily believe belongs in an art museum. Deep blues fading into saturated warm hues on Lorde’s face give the piece a nighttime feel, which correctly reflects the album’s general style. There are no words on the cover, which you’ll notice is something I prefer for albums. This is a great example of letting art do the talking.

“Flower Boy” by Tyler, the Creator

I first saw the sunset, bumble bees and sunflowers of “Flower Boy” on Tik Tok during the height of 2019 trends as teens painted the scene on calculators. Since then, it’s had me hooked. The artist, Eric White, ties in elements of surrealism while also purposefully leaving some parts, such as the background, obviously animated, giving the art piece a weirdness that I fully appreciate.

“Let it Bleed” by The Rolling Stones

“Let it Bleed” by The Rolling Stones is interesting, but I think it tops their others. The cover includes circular objects stacked on a turntable, with the album vinyl holding its spot at the bottom. The Rolling Stones have a track record of attention-grabbing album covers, but this one takes the cake for creativity and artistry.

“SOS” by SZA

To just say I love this album cover would not do it justice. The simplicity of it is what I believe makes it so entrancing. SZA is seen sitting on a diving board over a large body of water, giving the feeling of loneliness but in a comforting way that gets listeners ready for the whirlwind the album contains. SZA revealed the cover in late November of 2022, and I still haven’t gotten over it and probably never will.

“Plastic Beach” by Gorillaz

“Plastic Beach” is an album with four different covers, all of which are equally weird and detailed in the best way. I can’t say that I listen to a lot of Gorillaz, but these covers deserve appreciation for attention to detail, even across the multiple versions. The art is very puzzling and almost reminds me of an I SPY page from my childhood; the further you look at each image, the more you find.

“SOUR” by Olivia Rodrigo

Portraits as album covers have so much potential to be great, and Rodrigo understood the assignment. This cover art perfectly complements the artist’s Y2K style and overall album mood that deals with teenage hardships and emotions. The stickers on her face and the title on her tongue against a plain purple background portray the Olivia Rodrigo “aesthetic” excellently.

“Skiptracing” by Mild High Club

The pop psychedelic group really outdid themselves with this one. Their sophomore album, “Skiptracing,” features a 2D art piece with mismatched items making up a dim room in which a detective is standing. While it’s hard to pick out what’s exactly going on in the image, it reflects the mysterious journey the album takes you on.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles

My final choice on this list of cover art is The Beatles’ eighth studio album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” While many would go straight to “Abbey Road” as their first pick for iconic Beatles’ covers, I prefer Sgt. Pepper’s any day. The band is shown decked out in military gear with over 60 faces surrounding them, from Marlin Monroe to Edgar Allen Poe. The cover is another staple for the band and is an example of carefully crafted artwork for an album.

Album covers can play an important role in how music is perceived. From intriguing eye-catchers to complex art pieces, covers have their own way of portraying the music to come.