Exclaim!'s 25 Worst Album Covers of 2022

BY Alex Hudson and Kaelen BellPublished Dec 15, 2022

The definitive art movement of 2022, without a doubt, is generative AI art. All you needed to do was type a simple prompt into DALL·E or a similar system, and it would generate a vibey and sometimes pretty cool-looking piece of original artwork.

But luckily for those of us assembling Exclaim!'s annual list of the year's worst album covers, most artists didn't do that. Rather, this is a list made up of very human mistakes — from crudely made Photoshop monstrosities to expertly crafted pieces of nightmare fuel.

Brace yourself for Exclaim!'s 25 Worst Album Covers below — and while you're at it, revisit our list of the worst album art from 2021 as well.

25. CEO Trayle

The most cursed corners of the internet are filled with fanfic art of your favourite characters fucking — but leave it to CEO Trayle to put a blood-splattered depiction of horny Ghostface on his album cover.

24. Shima33

Released on September 8, the very same day Queen Elizabeth died, Shima33 danced on her grave with RIP BIG LIZ. We don't like the monarchy either, but if you're going to make jokes, have a little wit — or at least some Photoshop skills.

23. Max Creeps

Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses is one of the members behind this mysterious, masked rock band — who, in attempting to disguise their identities, made themselves look like those two old guys from The Muppet Show.

22. Dr. John
Things Happen That Way

Presumably intended as a posthumous tribute to the late songwriter, Things Happen That Way clumsily pastes the musician's face onto an iPhone sunset photo with a font randomly selected from a dropdown menu. The "Rx" looks like the abbreviation for medical prescriptions — did the graphic designer realize that Dr. John isn't an actual doctor? 

21. Ancestral Sin
Social Hate Speech

Sometimes social commentary is so scathing, so earth-shaking, it's difficult to look at dead on, should it reveal the inherent fallacy — the cruel emptiness — of modern existence: computer bad. 

20. Vettor n' the Insurrectos

You call that an obstacle? Just go around!

19. Steve Vai

How the fuck Steve plays that guitar is anyone's guess, but taking off the blindfold would probably help. 

Click "Next" to continue reading.18. Nas
King's Disease III

With three gold bars on a red marble backdrop, the artwork of King's Disease III is presumably intended to convey regal elegance. But once you notice it looks like a McDonald's logo, it's hard to unsee. Plus, KD? Kraft Dinner, anyone? Well shit, now I'm just getting hungry.

17. Philosophobia

If you kill a butterfly in the past, you can drastically alter the future. If you trap a bunch of butterflies in a series of picture frame portals alongside a dude with a jaunty feather in his hat and then subsequently release your prisoners into the ruins of a nondescript city, you get Philosophobia, apparently. Wasn't this a scene in The Umbrella Academy?

16. Jerry Paper
Free Time

Jerry Paper is just going to keep cackling maniacally until we acknowledge the pun, so let's just do it. Yup — you're freeing time, we get it.

15. Hudson Mohawke
Cry Sugar

This painting by Willehad Eilers is obviously intended to be grotesque and off-putting — and, well, mission accomplished. I would have been fine to go my whole life without ever seeing a thong-clad Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man chowing down on a burger.

14. Killing Joke
Lord of Chaos

Some people just shouldn't be given access to the layering function on Photoshop.

13. Ankhlejohn
If Walls Could Talk

We're not sure that Ankhlejohn knows how a vagina works, but perhaps even more worryingly, we're not sure he knows how a phone works. Is that vagina speaking into the receiver? Worst phone sex ever.

12. DJ Khaled

God has nothing to do with this, leave Him out of it.

11. Tiny Moving Parts
Tiny Moving Parts

I'm here to confirm what long-running emo band Tiny Moving Parts probably figured out about five minutes after this photo was taken: the disgusting fretboard cleanup wasn't worth it.

Click "Next" to continue reading.10. LATEXFAUNA

Cheaply made, poorly Photoshopped album covers are a dime a dozen. That's why it's so special when a terrible concept is executed masterfully. Why in the world LATEXFAUNA thought the world needed to see a jacked canine centaur glumly playing with a yoyo is unclear, but here it is! Also, we're not dog experts, but the album is called Senbernar, and that looks more like the lower half of a Rottweiler.

9. Five Times August
Silent War

The Dark Side of the Moon. The Velvet Underground & Nico. Some of the greatest album covers ever are iconic in their simplicity. And then there's Five Times August, who tries to cram every conspiracy theory possible into this comically overstuffed anti-vax fever dream. Time to log off.

8. Lil Thrombosis

With a quirked-up name like Lil Thrombosis, you would hope for something a little more than this Kanye-eight-years-ago-ass concept. At the very least use Jokerman or something. 

7. Machine Gun Kelly
Mainstream Sellout

You say tomato, I say weed. While it would certainly be satisfying to witness Machine Gun Kelly getting pelted with rotten tomatoes, these blurry, poorly Photoshopped pink ones are a bad high.

6. Black Eyed Peas

This new Sims game looks like shit.

5. Depleted Uranium

More than anything, this feels disrespectful to the raccoon. May our trash panda friend rest in peace. 

4. Pussy Riot
Matriarchy Now

The messaging is reliable as ever — fuck the patriarchy! destroy phallic symbols! — but aesthetically, this thing feels about half a decade late (destroy the emoji-as-album-art complex immediately) and even further behind in its clumsy pop feminism. 

3. Fresh Pepper
Fresh Pepper

The "Dancing Baby"-esque artwork of Fresh Pepper is so blatantly difficult to look at, so completely repellent in every way, we almost wonder if the Toronto duo created it specifically to get on Exclaim!'s annual list of the worst album covers of the year. Well, if that's the case, who are we to deny them? Nice job, guys — you made it.

2. Chris Brown

In theory, shaving an album title into the back of someone's head is a perfectly fine idea, but Chris Brown botched the execution by getting way too ambitious with gothic calligraphy (to say nothing of the jumble of scalp tattoos peeking through the lettering). Maybe go with a sans serif next time.

1. Van Morrison
What's It Gonna Take?

Wake up, sheeple! Van Morrison will not comply with your mandates or your aesthetic sensibilities! He's going to continue being a rebel on his own terms, i.e. logging onto Facebook and slapping his name on the first vaguely anti-authority meme he comes across.

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