The surprise set from the 6 God was the cover art that launched a thousand memes. Not only did the February release from the Toronto rapper land on the Billboard Hot 100 in full, the cover art’s uppercase scrawl was slapped onto everything from empty toilet paper rolls to a neck tattoo and the side of a phone booth for the Internet's viewing pleasure. Drizzy himself even launched a site to allow fans to create their own customized covers.
Adele could have left her third album cover blank (a la The Beatles) and still obliterated every sales record in the books. But 25 represents an important step forward in her artistic evolution and it’s visually apparent. Whereas 19 and 21 showed her sensitivity in closed and averted eyes, Adele looks straight into the camera with a mixture of stark confidence and serene vulnerability. It’s a timeless portrait that mirrors her maturation.
'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar
Before Kendrick Lamar’s second major-label release fluttered at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in March, the bold cover art -- which shows a group of black men and boys, including K.Dot, holding champagne bottles and stacks of bills on the White House lawn -- embodied the LP’s spirit and most popular line: ‘Every n---- is a star.’ A white judge is also strewn out with X’s on his eyes, a possible reference to the justice system during a year that saw the Ferguson riots and multiple cases of police brutality.
'Every Open Eye,' Chvrches
Chvrches’ album art bears a resemblance to New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies, but hey, after 32 years, a bouquet of roses is ripe for a revision. The Glasgow synthpop trio’s cover does an admirable job of carrying on the tradition.
'Fetty Wap,' Fetty Wap
After making history with four simultaneous entries on the Hot Rap Songs chart and crowning the Billboard 200 with his self-titled debut, the Paterson, N.J., rapper also shone the spotlight on his most Googled physical feature for his cover art -- his left eye, which he lost from congenital glaucoma. While menacing at first sight, the striking image shows Zoo Wap using his most distinct talking point as a centerpiece.
'Beauty Behind the Madness,' The Weeknd
The massive commercial success that was Beauty Behind The Madness (the LP saw 326,000 pure album sales following the week of its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200) is a fitting example of cover art mirroring life. Featuring a pretty, black-and-white self-portrait of the Canadian crooner, the image is cut up then put back together on the cover. Known for his emo, drug-induced jams, The Weeknd’s third studio album boasted the chart-toppers “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face.”
'At. Long. Last. A$AP.,' A$AP Rocky
The Harlem rep saluted the late A$AP Mob co-founder Steven "A$AP Yams" Rodriguez (who died from an accidential overdose in January) with the cover art of his sophomore effort. Featuring a tight black-and-white shot of Rocky’s face, the self-proclaimed "pretty motherfucker" flaunts his impressive ring collection but more distinctly, Yams’ purple birthmark and face tattoo.
'The Magic Whip,' Blur
The Brit rockers’ long-awaited comeback album was conceived in Hong Kong, and along with it came this jarring contrast of neon lights and color. Whip it, whip it good.
'The Album About Nothing,' Wale
Despite its title, the cover for Wale’s fourth album was a whole lotta something. A nod to the popular ‘90s NBC series Seinfeld, the main cover shows Wale with pal Jerry Seinfeld from the waist down and showing off their Jordan sneakers, backed by a white wall of graffiti writing that features the D.C. rapper’s lyrics and song titles. In March, the MMG rapper also let loose two other LP covers, recruiting artist Sue Tsai for a painting of footsteps leading to a blue moon and another that shows Wale sitting in the signature Seinfeld booth solo.
The chalky white wildcat adorning Disclosure’s sophomore release fit well well with their minimal and outlined aesthetic, which was a major part of their debut album Settle’s marketing campaign. However, the design hit a little too close to home for masked artist SBTRKT, who took to Twitter to call the U.K. duo “wildcopycats.”
'Pageant Material,' Kacey Musgraves
“I ain't pageant material,” sings Musgraves on her 2015 Grammy-nominated album’s title track. Well, she still looks great in a tiara, even if she’s about to pull a Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls and snap it to into pieces.
'1989,' Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams’ take on 1989 borrows Taylor Swift’s seagulls, but nixes a shot of Adams for the expanse of the ocean. It’s the same and in a way, it’s the opposite -- just like the singer-songwriter's covers album itself.
'M3LL155X,' FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs is an artist who excels in challenging perception, whether it’s through unclassifiable live shows situated somewhere between concert and performance art or breathtaking music videos that are inextricably linked with their musical soundtrack. A surrealist composite of her hand, face and an indiscernible limb, her EP artwork represents her boundary-breaking aesthetic.
'Rodeo,' Travi$ Scott
An avid wrestling fan, Travi$ Scott gave his debut album cover art the action figure treatment. In addition to pushing out Rodeo, he sold the toy version of himself for $150 on his website (the action figure is still available) for a unique marketing strategy that his rap contemporaries have yet to employ.
'Rebel Heart,' Madonna
Madge has never had any trouble being iconic -- or controversial. Her 13th album’s cover art spawned a series of memes in which everyone from Michael Jackson to Marilyn Monroe donned her black wire face mask, and she encouraged the fan-generated tributes by posting them to social media. But when renditions of Bob Marley, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela caused some fans to cry foul, she apologized and denied they were “a crime or an insult or racist."
'Blue Neighbourhood,' Troye Sivan
Taiwan’s Hsiao-Ron Cheng illustrated the memorable portrait that adorns Troye Sivan’s highly anticipated debut album, setting the buzzworthy Aussie singer-songwriter against a striking sunset backdrop framed by blue and sloping suburban rooftops.
The animated cover draws on the androgynous mystique of the Las Vegas-bred singer-songwriter. Set against a black backdrop, the white-and-yellow chalk-like illustration brings Shamir’s features to life, much like his debut studio LP which features the funky, genre-hopping tracks “On The Record” and “Call It Off.”
'Currents,' Tame Impala
We really dig the contrast between textures in the album art for the third disc from the Australian psychedelic rock project fronted by Kevin Parker. It's one of 2015’s vibe-iest album covers from one of 2015’s vibe-iest albums.
Irish photographer Richard Mosse first rose to prominence after using infrared film to document the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s bloody conflict in surreal candy-pink tones. Here, Mosse lends the instantly iconic technique to a more lighthearted scene for the Manchester synth-pop outfit’s third album.
'Blood,' Lianne La Havas
There are zero signs of gore for Lianne La Havas’ second LP Blood. Instead, the flawless British songstress strikes a pose with her voluminous hair against a pretty pink backdrop, a full moon-esque centerpiece and a bright orange floral arrangement. Her album is just as gorgeous, carrying the soothing numbers “Unstoppable” and “Green & Gold.”
'The Incredible True Story,' Logic
2015's Lowkey rap MVP Logic may have snagged the top spot on the the Top R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums with his sophomore set The Incredible True Story, but the cover takes a cue from the LP's incredible name. The Maryland M.C. slips on an astronaut suit on the album’s animated front, where he takes control of a spaceship with Steve Blum (right), a popular voiceover artist in Japanese anime, on one side and producer Kevin Randolph on his other side. Upon announcing the concept album, Logic described it as a “motion picture sci-fi epic."
'Froot,' Marina and The Diamonds
Marina and the Diamonds toured behind her 2015 album with giant pieces of artificial fruit onstage. Here’s where it all began -- a spectrum-spanning album featuring the Welsh singer-songwriter's tresses lit up with a kaleidoscopic halo.
'Kindred,' Passion Pit
The indietronica band's album cover can get a little creepy if you stare at it for too long. The line of sight from the child, to the peripheral Thanksgiving feasters, to the multi-colored sky in the rear is some fantastic photography. We feel the passion.
'SremmLifem' Rae Sremmurd
The Mississippi rap duo (comprised of real-life brothers, Khalif "Swae Lee" and Aaquil "Slim Jxmmi" Brown) takes a cue from Jay Z and R. Kelly’s 2004 LP Unfinished Business' simple yet clean cover art. As the resident party-starters with their hits “No Type” and “No Flex Zone,” it was hard to miss this turn-up tandem the past 365.
'Art Angels,' Grimes
The enigmatic Canadian artist designed the cover art for her sophomore effort Art Angels herself, so it should come as no surprise that it’s as delightfully weird as her music. Claire Boucher's penchant for neglecting sleep is well-documented (she recorded debut album Visions in a practically sleepless and drug-fueled three-week period) so it’s hard not to see the cover’s bloodshot, three-eyed figure as some representation of the painful price she pays for creation.