Music

30 Coolest Alternative Album Covers

There have been a great number of classic album covers , but there are some that you can't believe ever saw the light of day. And for the many budding artists out there, there is often the feeling that you could do better.

So, luckily, for us, a great number of them have decided to do just that, and create alternative covers for their favourite records.

We bring you 30 of the coolest: some are beautiful, some are clever, some are funny, and some have cats in (it's the internet: you're never more than a click away from our furry friends).

Click on an image for more information.

  • Watch The Throne

    Watch The Throne

    Artist: Watch The Throne Album: Watch The Throne Designer:… More details

    Watch The Throne

    Artist: Watch The Throne

    Album: Watch The Throne

    Designer: CueQuerido

    The real cover for the Jay-Z and Kanye West clash-of-the-titans collaboration Watch The Throne was, naturally, a bling-tastic gold affair. CueQuerido's alternative is far cooler, cuter, and sees a welcome return of Kanye's bear, looking suitably regal. 'King brilliant.

  • Abbey Road

    Abbey Road

    Artist: The Beatles Album: Abbey Road Designer:… More details

    Abbey Road

    Artist: The Beatles

    Album: Abbey Road

    Designer: k3nnykid

    How do you improve one of the most iconic cover images of all time? Easy: by turning John, Paul, George and Ringo into supercool Gorillaz-style nu-punk cartoons, set the car on fire and stick an octopus on the side of Abbey Road, which is now a god-monster's beard. Of course.

  • Thriller

    Thriller

    Artist: Michael Jackson Album: Thriller Designer: Myriam… More details

    Thriller

    Artist: Michael Jackson

    Album: Thriller

    Designer: Myriam Kühn

    Looking back, the cover of Thriller should have been so much better. Why have Jacko in a white lounge suit when you could have something inspired by the greatest video of all time - the dancing graveyard of zombies and that red leather jacket? Why not, in fact, have something just like this beautifully illustrated affair instead? The campaign to make this the art for the 30th anniversary rerelease in November starts here.

  • Aladdin Sane

    Aladdin Sane

    Artist: David Bowie Album: Aladdin Sane Designer:… More details

    Aladdin Sane

    Artist: David Bowie

    Album: Aladdin Sane

    Designer: Unknown

    What's better than one utterly iconic photograph of the Thin White Duke? Sixteen of them of course. This montage of the final cover shot (shown in colour) alongside black and white versions of alternate shots from Brian Duffy's photoshoot makes a fantastic alternative image for Aladdin Sane. If they ever release a remixed version, this should be the cover.

  • Mezmerize

    Mezmerize

    Artist: System of a Down Album: Mezmerize Designer: Marni… More details

    Mezmerize

    Artist: System of a Down

    Album: Mezmerize

    Designer: Marni Walker

    Just one of three reimaginings of the seminal System of a Down trilogy of records - Toxicity and the followups Mezmerize and Hypnotize - these hand-drawn images are beautifully designed and realised. This is our favourite; a range of beautiful blues centred around a suitably mesmerising face.

  • Post

    Post

    Artist: Björk Album: Post Designer: Hanuko Clulow Björk… More details

    Post

    Artist: Björk

    Album: Post

    Designer: Hanuko Clulow

    Björk has never been an artist to shy away from the ethereal and eccentric, so she would doubtless approve of this beautiful reworking of the cover for her breakthrough album Post. Beautiful colours form the backdrop to the title made out of her hair - a natural tool that the Icelandic star has never been afraid of using for creative purposes.

  • Rubber Soul

    Rubber Soul

    Artist: The Beatles Album: Rubber Soul Designer:… More details

    Rubber Soul

    Artist: The Beatles

    Album: Rubber Soul

    Designer: FoolEcho

    Designer FoolEcho has gone about re-imagining a host of classic Beatles record sleeves with this illustrated version of Rubber Soul being one of the best. The green backing gives the design a brighter and more, appropriately, psychedelic feel than the original, but the moody faces of the band's first 'grown-up' album remain.

  • Born This Way

    Born This Way

    Artist: Lady Gaga Album: Born This… More details

    Born This Way

    Artist: Lady Gaga

    Album: Born This Way

    Designer:cezuh0425/Nick Night

    The real cover art for Gaga's pop opus Born This Way - featuring the singer's head stuck top of a motorbike - was certainly attention-grabbing but we prefer this alternate take, which takes a crop from an immensely cool photograph of Gaga in full flow (used for the artwork of a later single, Edge of Glory), taken by Nick Night, to make a far superior cover image.

  • Actually

    Actually

    Artist: Pet Shop Boys Album: Actually Designer:… More details

    Actually

    Artist: Pet Shop Boys

    Album: Actually

    Designer: brokentv

    This genius cover 'remix' takes the cover of the Pets' classic 1987 opus Actually and applies the classic Penguin book template of one colour (other than black and white), one image and a standardised framework to glorious effect. The iconic 'yawning Neil' is tailor-made for this; the Pet Shop Boys' fondness for literary references in their lyrics only makes it more appropriate.

  • London Calling

    London Calling

    Artist: The Clash Album: London Calling Designer: Mikhail… More details

    London Calling

    Artist: The Clash

    Album: London Calling

    Designer: Mikhail Vartikov

    Vartikov's alternate cover for The Clash's seminal record takes a radically different approach to the rock 'n' roll bombast of the original cover, as a lone 'fisherman' sits on the shores of the river namechecked in the title track and sits quietly in reflection, away from the noise and traffic above. We don't fancy the guy's chances of catching anything in the Thames though.

  • OK Computer

    OK Computer

    Artist: Radiohead Album: OK Computer Designer: Steven… More details

    OK Computer

    Artist: Radiohead

    Album: OK Computer

    Designer: Steven Bonner

    This is a stunning alternate cover for Radiohead's dystopian turn-of-the-millenium classic, OK Computer; an all-encompassing pitch-black screen seeps out from the TV and into the room, evocative of a digital oil slick. Simple, but very cool, and very effective.

  • Mylo Xyloto

    Mylo Xyloto

    Artist: Coldplay Album: Mylo Xyloto Designer: Lliam Evans… More details

    Mylo Xyloto

    Artist: Coldplay

    Album: Mylo Xyloto

    Designer: Lliam Evans [Lluminus/Whitehawk]

    A hand-painted, graffiti-style alternate cover, this takes inspiration from the original Mylo cover, the lyrics contained within and the technicolour extravaganza of Coldplay's accompanying tour to stunning effect.

  • Power, Corruption & Lies

    Power, Corruption & Lies

    Artist: New Order Album: Power, Corruption &… More details

    Power, Corruption & Lies

    Artist: New Order

    Album: Power, Corruption & Lies

    Designer: Gary Andrew Clarke (2009)

    Whilst this alternative design for New Order's classic may on the surface look nothing like the original, designer Clarke has cleverly taken Peter Saville's minimal style and and reinterpreted the cover according to a more modernist feel. In addition, the 'N O' is also a nice tip-of-the-hat to a later New Order cover (Waiting For The Sirens' Call), also designed by Saville. Again, this would be a fitting, and very cool cover for a 30th anniversary rerelease next year.

  • Chinese Democracy

    Chinese Democracy

    Artist: Guns 'N Roses Album: Chinese Democracy Designer:… More details

    Chinese Democracy

    Artist: Guns 'N Roses

    Album: Chinese Democracy

    Designer: Unknown

    It is unclear whether this design inspired, or mimicked, the eventual cover for the forever-delayed G'n'R comeback album; either way, it is a far superior effort to what eventually ended up on the cover, being more understated, simple and cool than the 'official' design. Mind you, understatement isn't really Axl's thing is it?

  • Smooth Criminal

    Smooth Criminal

    Artist: Michael Jackson Album: Smooth Criminal Designer:… More details

    Smooth Criminal

    Artist: Michael Jackson

    Album: Smooth Criminal

    Designer: Dunnik

    OK, so Smooth Criminal was never a Michael Jackson album, but after seeing this design, we really wish Bad had been retitled. One of Jacko's most iconic outfits, beautifully illustrated, together with an iconic hat-touch and outstretched hand pose, this is awesomely cool.

  • Magical Mystery Tour

    Magical Mystery Tour

    Artist: The Beatles Album: Magical Mystery Tour Designer:… More details

    Magical Mystery Tour

    Artist: The Beatles

    Album: Magical Mystery Tour

    Designer: Kuri-ishi

    The Fab Four are finally unmasked from their costumes in the original cover (although the artist admits two of them are mixed up - who cares though?) in this vibrant, energetic and thoroughly psychedelic and sixties illustrated alternative. Seriously fun and seriously cool.

  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

    Harder, Better, Faster, Str…

    Artist: Daft Punk Album: Harder, Better, Faster… More details

    Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

    Artist: Daft Punk

    Album: Harder, Better, Faster Stronger

    Designer: ediskrad

    This is seriously one of the coolest things we've ever seen: Daft Punk lyrics set out in Soviet social realism-style artwork. Simply brilliant. C'est magnifique.

  • Madonna

    Madonna

    Artist: Madonna Album: Madonna Designer: fabio2k5 Madonna's… More details

    Madonna

    Artist: Madonna

    Album: Madonna

    Designer: fabio2k5

    Madonna's first album set her on the way to becoming the undisputed queen of pop (at least, until a certain Ms. Gaga came along), and saw the songs on it define a decade. This brilliant alternate cover captures Madge's style at the time, together with the style of the era itself in the bold, 80s-style illustration. Retro-chic at its finest, and very, very cool.

  • The Final Countdown

    The Final Countdown

    Artist: Europe Album: The Final Countdown Designer: Colm… More details

    The Final Countdown

    Artist: Europe

    Album: The Final Countdown

    Designer: Colm MacAthlaoich

    Produced as part of a project where 70 of Ireland’s leading creatives created their own one-off cover versions of favourite album covers, this is one of our favourites. A brilliantly clever interpretation of The Final Countdown, this - of course - incorporates a working clock into the design. We guess it would've been expensive to mass produce for a 'real' version, but wouldn't it have been brilliant?

  • Let It Be

    Let It Be

    Artist: The Beatles Album: Let It Be Designer: Unknown Yes,… More details

    Let It Be

    Artist: The Beatles

    Album: Let It Be

    Designer: Unknown

    Yes, we had to have one in here. We all know everything is better when cats are involved, and record sleeves are no different. The Fab Four become the Furry Four in this uncanny feline version of Let It Be, with the John Lennon cat in particular being spookily brilliant. All-in-all a purrfect alternative.

  • Plastic Beach

    Plastic Beach

    Artist: Gorillaz Album: Plastic Beach Designer: Mari… More details

    Plastic Beach

    Artist: Gorillaz

    Album: Plastic Beach

    Designer: Mari Mihai

    This crazy alternative cover for Gorillaz' epic opus fits perfectly with the graphic style employed by Jamie Hewlett on the group's artwork. The components of the design, however, are wonderfully original - Koi fish of the plastic beach emerging from the headphones as they serenade - of course - a Gorilla. Magnificent.

  • La Roux

    La Roux

    Artist: La Roux Album: La Roux Designer: Andrew… More details

    La Roux

    Artist: La Roux

    Album: La Roux

    Designer: Andrew Hodgson

    This vector, abstract style version of La Roux's debut album is supremely cool, giving the sleeve an almost gallic feel, to go alongside the band's name itself. C'est chic indeed.

  • The Man-Machine

    The Man-Machine

    Artist: Kraftwerk Album: The Man-Machine Designer:… More details

    The Man-Machine

    Artist: Kraftwerk

    Album: The Man-Machine

    Designer: Unknown

    Possibly the coolest of all the alternative covers on this list, this is simply stunning: a re-imagining of Kraftwerk's classic The Man-Machine, with the members of the band replaced by, naturally, man-machines, including Robocop and C3PO. Superb.

  • In Rainbows

    In Rainbows

    Artist: Radiohead Album: In Rainbows Designer: Unknown OK,… More details

    In Rainbows

    Artist: Radiohead

    Album: In Rainbows

    Designer: Unknown

    OK, we're allowed one cat one, and one funny one. Radiohead have become famous for their unexpected career moves: the jump from guitars to lo-fi electronica on Kid A and the pay-what-you-want scheme for In Rainbows. If only they'd given that album this artwork; it would have been worth it just to see the reaction from their fans - the internet would probably have imploded.

  • Starblind

    Starblind

    Artist: Iron Maiden Album: Starblind Designer: Stan W-D The… More details

    Starblind

    Artist: Iron Maiden

    Album: Starblind

    Designer: Stan W-D

    The man behind Eddie and the famous Iron Maiden artwork is, of course, Derek Riggs, but if he ever retires, then Stan W-D is ready and able to take over. This astonishing fan-made cover is for Starblind, an album track from The Final Frontier but the artwork is good enough to grace a bonafide album in itself. A truly brilliant illustration.

  • Help

    Help

    Artist: The Beatles Album: Help! Designer: FoolEcho A… More details

    Help

    Artist: The Beatles

    Album: Help!

    Designer: FoolEcho

    A second helping of Beatles-inspired art from FoolEcho, this time with the Fab Four dressed in Evertonian blue, sporting a scarf of Liverpool colours. If they were found in either Goodison Park or Anfield in that attire, then they probably would need some help. A fun and cool alternative to the original.

  • Back In ABBlack

    Back In ABBlack

    Artist: ABBA Album: Back in ABBlack Designer: Gavin… More details

    Back In ABBlack

    Artist: ABBA

    Album: Back in ABBlack

    Designer: Gavin Beattie

    OK, so not strictly speaking a real album - but it would be amazing on both a musical as well as artistic level if it did. Sweden's finest pop exports ABBA, meet Australia's finest rock band, AC/DC on Back in ABBlack. It would probably be a cold day on the Highway to Hell before you got AC/DC covering Dancing Queen but we can live in hope...

  • Nevermind

    Nevermind

    Artist: Nirvana Album: Nevermind (20th Anniversary… More details

    Nevermind

    Artist: Nirvana

    Album: Nevermind (20th Anniversary Edition)

    Designer: wedopix

    An alternate design for the 20th anniversary release of Nirvana's commercial breakthrough album, this eschews the baby of the original to concentrate even more specifically on the name of the game: the filthy lucre of success which Kurt Cobain tried, in vain, to avoid. Subtle, but cool.

  • My Iron Lung

    My Iron Lung

    Artist: Radiohead Album: My Iron Lung Designer: Jennica… More details

    My Iron Lung

    Artist: Radiohead

    Album: My Iron Lung

    Designer: Jennica Lim

    An early classic track by Radiohead, and name of an early minialbum when they were on the verge of breaking through; this alternate design captures both a literal take on the title, and also the industrial and mechanical sound of the bursts of guitar on the record itself.

  • Is This It

    Is This It

    Artist: The Strokes Album: Is This It Designer: Unknown A… More details

    Is This It

    Artist: The Strokes

    Album: Is This It

    Designer: Unknown

    A work of genius that only the internet could provide, this is a simple, yet dazzlingly effective idea: the recreation of classic album covers using just socks (a full gallery is here). Why on earth did no-one think of this before now? The finest example is the cover of The Strokes' debut; we'll never look at it in quite the same way again.

Tags: music, art, design

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