One of the integral parts of an album’s meaning and imaging is the cover art. It means that album covers can often dictate the reason behind why we chose or bought an album in the first place. Back in the 90s, the majority of people bought CDs, and a good album cover usually jumps off the shelf and spark the interest of people, even if they haven’t heard of the band or artist before.
Today, with the advent of digital technology, you will rarely see people buying physical copies of albums to admire their cover art or maybe read the lyrics. But there are still some who are longing to have physical copies of albums of their favorite artists, which led to the revival of CDs and even vinyl records.
If you are wondering about the album covers back in the 90s, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we are giving you a list of the most iconic album covers in the 90s that defined the decade’s music and pop culture.
Rust in Peace by Megadeth
This album is probably Megadeth’s most important work, and up until today, people still want another Rust album from them. The cover of this album is definitely a spot on and in line with the messages of their songs in this album. It features Hangar 18, surrounded by world leaders of the 90s, including Toshiki Kaifu, John Major, George H.W. Bush, Richard Von Weizsaker, and Mikhail Gorbachev. They sit behind the band’s mascot, Vic Rattlehead, while he examines an alien lifeform.
Rage Against the Machine by Rage Against the Machine
This album by Rage Against the Machine is a political album, which made it become iconic in the 90s. On its cover, it features the self-immolation of the Vietnamese Monk Thich Quang Duc in 1963.
Parklife by Blur
This album by Blur has a unique cover, which features racing greyhounds. Stylorouge is the graphic design studio that helped Blur in coming up with this album cover. It is indeed a pop art museum piece. In the 90s, Britpop was so popular, and people probably thought that the lifestyle would be high end. However, Blur kept its blue-collar style with this album.
Janet by Janet Jackson
The cover of this album by Janet Jackson unfolder to show her image, standing topless, with hands cupping her breasts. This album is so iconic in the 90s. In fact, it has been referenced dozens of times since it was released, it became the “Birth of Venus” equivalent for R&B.
Nevermind by Nirvana
The cover of this album by Nirvana is what made Spencer Elden a household name to their fans. That is the 4-month-old baby swimming with the dollar bill on fish hook featured on the album cover. This idea was thought of by Kurt Cobain after he watched a show about water birth. The band chose to keep the cover clean and iconic. After years, the band decided to recreate the cover for anniversary specials, this time, with the older version of Spencer swimming.
Dookie by Green Day
The album cover of Green Day’s Dookie looks really artistic that you can stare at it for ages. It’s because, at every look, you will find something interesting in it. According to Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day’s frontman, there’s little pieces of all of us in it.
Check Your Head by Beastie Boys
Based on rumors and theories, the lads of Beastie Boys are posing in the shape of the Adidas logo on this album cover. But it’s kind of tough to believe in that theory. What whatever plan they had way back, this album cover still looks cool. It is raw and true to who they are. Glen E. Friedman, documenter of the skate and hardcore scenes, was the one who captured this image.
Rid of Me by PJ Harvey
This album cover shows that PJ Harvey did the whole whip my hair thing long before Willow Smith. But what adds to the coolness of this album cover is PJ’s black expression. It shows how cool PJ Harvey really is. It is a simple but really iconic album cover in the 90s.
Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera
This album cover by Pantera also has an urban legend or rumor connected to it. According to Pantera’s late great drummer, Vinnie Paul, the man on the cover was paid $10 per punch, and it took 31 punches to get the right photo for the album. However, this has been contested, and the man on the album cover was never really hit even once. But it did become iconic in the 90s.
Ritual de lo habitual by Jane’s Addiction
After the cover of Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction that they released in 1988, they did not disappoint their fans with the following album they released, which is the Ritual de lo habitual. The cover of this album was designed by Perry Farrell, the band’s lead singer. The art features male and female nudity, but an alternate “clean” cover was needed to be made so it could be sold in stores that did not want to stock a vivid and confronting artwork. But the original version is still the best.
These are some of the iconic album covers in the 90s. These albums can prove that graphic design in the 90s was the new rock and roll. Most of them paid homage to classic rock and jazz, made hip-hop music into high art, and looked into the future. The 90s was the start of Photoshop, the burst of independent labels, and as well as the success of designers when it comes to revolutionary ideas, which made the 90s album covers creative and innovative. Even though the CD has a compact size, it did not prevent album covers from achieving iconic status.