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The 20 Most Controversial Album Covers Of The 2000s!

Posted by Anuradha Thursday, October 8, 2009

Terrorist atrocities, drug-taking, nudity, gore and religion-bashing – this decade has seen an abundance of shocking and hard-hitting album covers rear their heads. Here Gigwise counts down the 40 most controversial of the 2000s. Be warned, some are quite disturbing...

1. Ice T: 'Gangsta Rap' (2006) - Featuring the infamous buttocks of Ice's silicone-enhanced wife Coco, this naked cover for the 2006 album 'Gangsta Rap' is an eye grabbing affair. With a gun next to his bed and the blonde glamour model draped over him, T was seemingly desperate to gain some publicity ahead of the dire record's release. Unfortunately for him, the publicity didn't work and the album sunk without a trace titanic-style.

2. Sebastien Tellier: 'Sexuality' (2008) - Just in case you didn't think laid back, cool Frenchmen were having lots of sex here's Sebastien Tellier to visualise his life by adventuring on a naked woman whilst riding a horse. With a nice sense of the absurd, Tellier judges the tone of a controversial album cover well by being cheeky and tongue in cheek but still hinting at debauchery and extra curricular pursuits. Pubic hair included. Nice one Sebastian.

3. Crash Radio: 'Crash Radio' (2004) – Shortly after releasing this record five years ago Crash Radio disappeared into obscurity. The only remnant of the band left is this damn good album cover of a nonchalant young girl puffing away at a cigarette in front of her friend in a paddling pool – a sleeve that's easily more controversial than Arctic Monkeys' debut. We can only hope the cigarette is a talcum-powder fake one and not the real deal!

4. Andrew W K: ‘I Get Wet’ (2001) – Mr W K’s debut was accused of endorsing cocaine usage thanks to the image of the singer with blood pouring from each nostril. Rather than snort ten grams of coke to get the Kate Moss effect, W K in fact smeared his face with the blood of an animal he bought from a butcher’s shop. A shame because a punch to the face for his shit music would have been much better!

5. The Strokes: 'Is This It' (2001) – Ranked as one of the greatest album covers of all time by many, the image of a leather-clad hand pressed into a woman’s behind was banned from the US and had to be replaced with a photo of particle collisions in the Big European Bubble Chamber. Boring or what? The content was controversial too: ‘New York City Cops’ had to be replaced with ‘When It Started’ to avoid causing offence after 9/11.

6. Megadeth: 'The System Has Failed' (2004) - This not-so-subtle image neatly portrays how many people felt about George Bush and the Iraq war. The image sees the Bush administration, including Condoleeza Rice and Dick Cheney, bribing a Satanic judge for 'Not Guilty' verdicts. Prices for a free pass include $2000 for a Holy War and $10,000 for 'Playing God'. It may not be understated but this controversial cover certainly makes its message clear.

7. Megapuss: 'Surfing' (2008) – Devendra Banhart and Gregory Rogove's collaborative album features the naked, hairy pair fighting with knives on the front cover. Slightly risqué we're sure you'll agree. However, it's the back sleeve which grabbed the pair some headlines as it features full frontal nudity. Above is the censored version; sadly if you want to see the size of Devendra's pecker, you'll just have to buy the album.

8. Dwarves: 'The Dwarves Must Die' (2004) - The problem with being controversial is that sometimes you just look a bit stupid. Typically daft, when Dwarves released this album in 2004 they adorned the cover with an image of a dwarf being crucified and surrounded by three naked women. Incredibly tacky, it's equally comical as it is shocking.

9. Nas: 'Untitled' (2008) A controversial album in every sense of the word, this artwork is appropriately attention grabbing. In a shocking and thought-provoking image Nas' back is adorned with huge scars depicting the letter 'N' conjuring images of slavery and violence. The rapper, of course, originally wanted to call the record 'Nigga' or 'Nigger', but this was withdrawn at the label's request.

10. Xiu Xiu: 'A Promise' (2003) – There's something deeply disturbing about this album artwork. A stark naked man holding a baby doll upside down and near his genitals, weird is an understatement. Above is the censored version - don't worry we won't inflict his shrivelled manhood upon you.

11. Slayer: ‘God Hates Us All’ (2001) The thrash metal outfit are notoriously not afraid of religious controversy in the slightest – the album title and anti-religious content gives that away - but they turned against this cover art for a different reason. The record company chose an image of the bible spiked with nails and covered in blood in an effort that, according to guitarist Kerry King, “looked liked a seventh-grader had defaced the bible.” An alternate sleeve was later issued.

12. Rammstein: 'Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da' (2009) - The title of the German industrial-metallers' sixth studio album translates literally into 'Love Is There For Everyone'. For those of you expecting a nice twee album image to suit, just remember this is Rammstein we're talking about! Resembling a classic art piece, the cover depicts the band gathered around a naked girl with one member ominously holding a butcher's knife above her. As if that controversy isn't enough, we also get some phallic fruit in the foreground and some flesh eating plants at the back. Hmmmm.

13. James: 'Hey Ma' (2008) – Released when panic about gun crime was rife in the UK, James unleashed this poignant, hard-hitting and unforgettable record cover. Ahead of the album's release, a billboard promo campaign featuring the artwork was pulled after the powers-that-be deemed the image of a baby choosing between a gun and toys as offensive. Despite the still-standing ban, James refused to pull the Darren Hughes designed artwork.

14. Preschool Tea Party Massacre: 'Hardcore Died With Hitler' (2006) - Maybe in the heads of Preschool Tea Party Massacre this artwork means something, most likely a powerful message about the state of the hardcore music scene. However, to the untrained eye it just appears to be a photoshopped image of Hitler playing a guitar. A pretty tactless attempt at garnering controversy here from a band who seem desperate to shock in every possible sense.

15. Liars: 'It Fit When I Was A Kid' (EP – 2005) – We're bending the rules a bit here by including this, but such was the controversy surrounding Liars' 2005 EP it had to be included. Basically a photo of a gay porn scene (we've edited out the erect phalluses) with the band members' comical faces superimposed on it's both amusing and controversial. Unsurprisingly a slip cover was issued upon the EP's release to censor the gay orgy cover.

16. The Lost Children of Babylon: ‘The 911 Report - The Ultimate Conspiracy’ (2005) The ultra controversial concept album from the underground hip-hop outfit looked at 9/11 from every angle. As well as denouncing the terrorists who committed the atrocities, it slammed President Bush and his administration and looked at the various conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks. Duly, the artwork is just as hard-hitting as the music it

17. Leftover Crack: 'Fuck World Trade' (2004) - Another political entry, this time from ska punk metallers Leftover Crack. Anything featuring New York's Twin Towers is immediately shocking and Leftover Crack exploit this by implying that oil barons Halliburton aided and benefited from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Shocking and crass it may be, but the artwork and album title show that Leftover Crack are an angry band with something to say at least.

18. Lividity: 'Used, Abused and Left For Dead' (2006) – The turgid metal outfit take their name from one of the stages of death when discolouration occurs shortly after rigor mortis and just before the body decomposes. Lovely. A truly horrible album cover from a band who clearly need their heads checking.

19. Ministry: 'Rio Grande Blood' (2006) – The second of a trio of concept albums berating President George W Bush, 'Rio Grande Blood' upped the ante in every possible sense. Musically the Chicago industrial rockers lambasted the dimwitted ex-US leader in pertinently in tracks like 'Fear (Is A Big Business)' and 'LiesLiesLies', but perhaps the best bit about this record is its ultra-controversial cover. Featuring a mutilated George W Bush tied to an oil barrel crucifix with stealth bombers and industry in the background, it's politically loaded and simply awesome.

20. Most Precious Blood: 'Our Lady Of Annihilation' (2003) – The concept of the album cover was thought up by the hardcore punk band's guitarist Justin Brannan and made reality by Justin Boruki. A woman poses as the Virgin Mary was her hands held out like a deity – the major snag, she has a suicide bomb attached to her chest. An ultra-controversial, yet equally powerful image.


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