Sex and the City 2!
At least that's the cover art for the copy I got. A sticker on the CD case says this new album is "available in multiple cover variations," which made me think of whoever it was who said, "I'll remember that when I'm downloading it!" — referring to the six different covers for the new Arcade Fire album, exactly zero of which I can picture at this moment.* I don't know what any of the other covers for this Books album look like, or how many there are, I just know I don't care. (And I like The Books!)
So, all this talk about cover art lately, right?
First there was Hurley. Did you hear about how the Weezer album might actually be called Hurley because the band is sponsored by the Nike-owned clothing company Hurley, according to a member of the band? But then again, that's totally not the reason, according to the same member of the band? And here I thought it was just a word for how you feel after listening to it!
In the first case, but probably not the second, there was the meme value of the artwork. Yes, the Weezer cover art is terrible, so everyone talked about it, which is what Weezer is about these days: Let's be terrible and yet make everyone talk about us, even if it's just to say how terrible we are. How long before Weezer plays the Gathering of the Juggalos? Probably a ways off, but if somewhere down the road Rivers Cuomo gets to the point where it's going to take a watermelon turd-bomb to keep him on the Internet's "look at me!" list, then he'll probably do it.
In the second case, I don't even know what to say, except that its style reminded me of the Ground Zero Mosque B-movie poster art.
So what about album covers these days? Album cover art has been put in a new context, where, at least for bigger releases, it is first a thing on the Internet, and only later a thing that is held and observed and considered as part of a physical package — and for a lot of people, it never exists as a physical thing ever. Album downloaders know the art only as an icon, an avatar, a small square to visually associate some image with an album, just like someone's profile pic on Twitter or Facebook or Gmail chat or whatever. This is neither good nor bad, and a lot of albums will continue to have fairly nondescript album art because that's always been the case.
Things are created to draw attention in the context in which they are made. A 12-inch wide white square with nothing but "The Beatles" embossed into it makes an impression when it's in a bin with other albums that are all busily designed and inscribed with all manner of logos, titles, photos and euphoric "Stereophonic Three-Dimensional Sound!" graphics. A blank white square in your web browser is basically invisible. So album art created in an Internet age is created to make the Internet notice. Hence bad but Internet-memorable ideas like Hurley.
I think we can expect a continued meme-ification of album art, at least from some corners, for some time to come. But even if we can't, I've decided that I'm naming my new solo album Return to Shoulder Cookie Mountain, and here's the album cover:
Well, one of the album covers, anyway.
* I fully acknowledge that as a media person I receive many albums in promo form, with no artwork at all, or as streams or downloads only, so in many cases I don't know the album art unless I do a Google, which I don't always do.