Successfully reported this slideshow.
Your SlideShare is downloading. ×

Memorable Album Covers of 2021

Loading in …3

Check these out next

1 of 44 Ad

Memorable Album Covers of 2021

Download to read offline

Check out this tour of album covers that made a visual impact in 2021 at a time of surging vinyl sales. The first three slides contain speaker notes.

Check out this tour of album covers that made a visual impact in 2021 at a time of surging vinyl sales. The first three slides contain speaker notes.


More Related Content

Slideshows for you (20)

More from David Deal (19)


Recently uploaded (20)

Memorable Album Covers of 2021

  1. 1. Memorable Album Covers of 2021 David J. Deal December 2021
  2. 2. Navy Blue, Song of Sage: Post Panic!
  3. 3. Adele, 30
  4. 4. Lily Konigsberg, Lily We Need to Talk Now
  5. 5. Mykki Blanco, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep
  6. 6. Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever
  7. 7. serpentwithfeet, Deacon
  8. 8. St. Vincent, Daddy’s Home
  9. 9. Genesis Owusu, Smiling with No Teeth
  10. 10. Cautious Clay, Deadpan Love
  11. 11. Halsey, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
  12. 12. Baby Queen, The Yearbook
  13. 13. Popsmoke, Faith
  14. 14. Connan Mockasin, Jazzbusters Two
  15. 15. Deap Vally, Marriage
  16. 16. CHAI, Wink
  17. 17. Lil Nas X, Montero
  18. 18. Billie Martin, Flora Fauna
  19. 19. Robert Finley, Sharecropper’s Son
  20. 20. Shannon Lay, Geist
  21. 21. Tems, If Orange Was a Place
  22. 22. Joy Orbison, Still Slipping, Vol. 1
  23. 23. Cedric Burnside, I Be Trying
  24. 24. King Woman, Celestial Blues
  25. 25. Lost Girls, Menneskekollektivet
  26. 26. Snail Mail, Valentine
  27. 27. Olivia Rodrigo, Sour
  28. 28. Lorde, Solar Power
  29. 29. Little Simz, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
  30. 30. James Blake, Friends That Break Your Heart
  31. 31. The Anchoress, The Art of Losing
  32. 32. Aimee Mann, Queens of the Summer Hotel
  33. 33. H.E.R., Back of My Mind
  34. 34. Wolf Alice, Blue Weekend
  35. 35. Lingua Ignota, Sinner Get Ready
  36. 36. Spirit of the Beehive, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH
  37. 37. Japanese Breakfast, Jubilee
  38. 38. The Weather Station, Ignorance
  39. 39. PinkPantheress, to hell with it
  40. 40. Art D’Ecco, In Standard Definition
  41. 41. Ashley Monroe, Rosegold
  42. 42. Katy Kirby, Cool Dry Place
  43. 43. Taylor Swift, Red (Taylor’s Version)
  44. 44. Thank You David Deal

Editor's Notes

  • Record albums refuse to die even though sales are no longer what they used to be. Musicians continue to rely on long-form collections of songs to tell personal stories, and the album cover art remains a crucial aspect of the storytelling. In 2018, as I’ve done for many years, I explored music released during the year to identify the most memorable album cover art. Memorable album covers in 2018 did what effective album cover art has always done:

    Capture your attention.
    Express the essence of the artist.
    Say something about the musical content of the album itself.

    This year, I was struck by the number of album covers that expressed what it means for an artist to be the Other, especially to be LGBTQ. The year witnessed a bumper crop of works created by LGBTQ musicians, perhaps most notably by Janelle Monáe, whose Grammy-nominated Dirty Computer created a public forum for Monáe to announce her pansexuality. The album cover art of LGBTQ artists was as intensely personal as their music. This SlideShare contains some notable examples.
  • As I have done for the past few years, I’ve created my entirely subjective round-up of the most memorable album covers of 2021. These are neither the worst nor the best. The simply made a powerful impression and stuck with me like a musical earworm. The memorable covers of 2021 reflected a pervasive sober realism. The covers reflected many artists who emerged from the oppressive isolation and tumult of 2020 by facing the world head-on, such as Cautious Clay’s portrait on the cover of Deadpan Love or Lily Konigsberg’s Lily We Need to Talk Now. Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, focusing on Eilish’s tear-stained face, expressed Gen Z angst perfectly. Happier Than Ever also inspired a cottage industry of fan art.
    But there was plenty of room for whimsy and humor, such as Baby Queen’s The Yearbook and Lil Nas X’s Montero.
    Lorde’s Solar Power expressed a carefree spirit that spoke to the album’s theme. St. Vincent’s Daddy’s Home was a provocative retro throwback. But on the whole, the albums that stayed with me felt simple, direct, and sometimes humble, like Joy Orbison’s Still Slipping Volume 1, which looked like a scene from a Charles Bukowski short story.
    They all spoke to me. I hope they speak to you, too.
  • The vinyl resurgence continued at a furious pace in 2021. By midyear, vinyl sales were up 94 percent from the year before. The week ending December 2 (which included Black Friday) marked second-largest week of vinyl sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. The popularity of vinyl also underlined the importance album cover art, with online sites such as Our Culture and Exclaim devoting articles to the best and worst album covers of the year.
    Album sleeve design plays an essential role in expressing a musician’s vision and sparking curiosity through visual storytelling. In the digital age, album cover art is even more valuable. The cover art is like a totem that appears in both the physical world (the album itself, merchandise, clothing, billboards, etc.) and digital (an artist’s website, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.) Album cover art can also inspire a musician’s followers to create their own fan art based on the original sleeve. The cover becomes a digital totem.
  • What are your favorite album covers of the year, and why? Drop me a line at I’d love to hear from you.