Is imitation a form of flattery? Or is it simply annoying? That’s what some bands and a lot of fans have to consider when faced with album artwork that looked a little too close for comfort. Call it homage, a tribute or straight-up theft, here are nine times when bands were accused of copying album artwork.
Unlike a lot of music subcultures, hardcore and punk have always emphasized the need for visual art to accompany their sonic brutality. There are entire record labels whose entire raison d’être is to forge those dynamics into a truly resonant physical item. So in a world where ideas are limitless, it seems more than just a little weird when album artwork looks ludicrously similar. Tell the guitarist to give his niece some metallic markers and a ream of black paper and get going.
This APTV video digs up a few moments where bands were accused of copying album artwork. The alterna-pop band whose EP had more than a passing resemblance to a legendary hardcore band’s last release. There was that one singer who posited that no band owned the look and message of sacred geometry. But it didn’t stop him from humiliating the band in question in a public place. Then there’s the multi-platinum superstar band who have two album covers that look like direct heists from legendary acts.
Honestly, we’re just stoked that people are having this conversation. Before the turn of this century, file-sharing sites like Napster allowed people to share music freely. There was no need to buy physical products any longer. Because when you have the music, why do you need production credits, liner notes and (wait for it) actual cover art? It’s taken a while for listeners to come back to physical media. The artists who are in tune with that will always be the ones we return to, time and again.