Album covers decline in representation of sound

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By: Nathan Sparks
The digitization of the world is changing things; some for the better, and some for the worse. Digitization has ruined yet another aspect of our musical culture: album artwork. Gone are the days of covers like The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”, Kiss’ “Destroyer”, and Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy”.
Album art in modern music is less a representation of the sound and the feel of the album, and more a self centered marketing device. Look at the cover for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” it’s literally her head photoshopped onto a motorcycle. This is neither inspirational nor creative. If that doesn’t send you into a rage, then check out the cover to Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment.” The cover is just a picture of Adam wearing fingerless gloves. This display of self-centered behavior from the music industry proves how far downhill music has gone. We’ve had many iconic album covers throughout history, but it seems like we won’t ever have any more.
The death of great album artwork can easily be attributed to the advent of the digital music market. Artists are able to produce their music much faster, and a faster output limits the creativity and thought that goes into an album. An album used to be a full experience, including the artwork. Opening that to look at the artwork within as you listened to the music made the experience so much more blissful and enriching. Now we have nothing to look at thanks to iTunes and Amazon. Artists need to consider the experience that led them to love music in the first place, and try to create that for their listeners, as opposed to worrying about quantity so much. The old adage “quality over quantity” should surely apply to music.
As music fans and consumers, it’s our responsibility to demand more from the products that we’re spending our hard earned money on. You wouldn’t hire a gardener who mowed the lawn, but didn’t trim the hedges, so why is half the effort acceptable in music? It shouldn’t be, but we’re being denied the full experience thanks to the leaps and bounds we’re making with computers. We need to demand a more rich experience from our music, so as to be able to fully immerse ourselves in an album.
The fans need to take a step back and analyze what they want from the musical experience, and truly consider the weight of their actions by supporting such vain and self centered people. They are being denied a full experience, and accepting it willingly. We need visuals for the audio that don’t include shameless self promotion and vanity!

Email:nsparks2@radford.edu