The album cover formula is pretty simple to decode. Go the abstract route, go monochromatic or throw up a shot of the band. When in doubt, just show some nude women and call it artistic. If musicians over-think or under-think the formula or ignore it completely, their cover art will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Despite this well-proven fact, and the death knell of the physical album, dozens of horrible album covers were produced in 2011. Lucky for you, MTV Clutch loves sorting through images that hurt our eyes and we picked this year's new entries in the canon of bad album covers. So join us in skewering the cheesiness, blandness and straight-up ickiness of the 10 worst album covers of 2011.
10. Britney Spears, Femme Fatale
Is this an album cover or a smell-able ad for Ms. Spears' latest fragrance? Does it even matter?
9. We Were Promised Jetpacks, In The Pit Of The Stomach
We Were Promised Jetpacks' PR team was surely thrilled when they saw the mock-ups for this. Pro tip: Don't make a cover that resembles the Nazi eagle symbol. Or any Nazi iconography.
8. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
7. The Joy Formidable, The Big Roar
Intricacy does not good art make. Didn't Yoda say that once? Anyway, Welsh rockers The Joy Formidable treated us to this headache-inducing cover, which resembles a nightmare one might have while dozing off during a mild acupuncture session.
6. Those Darlins, Screws Get Loose
Just in case the missing "g" in "Those Darlins" was too subtle, these rock grrls put an up-nose shot of some lady knuckle deep in her own nostril to show us how gritty they are. You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick something better for an album cover?
5. Toro y Moi, Underneath the Pine
Gross. We don't know what's going on in this picture. Is he eating angel wings? Sprouting barnacles? We're not going to ask Toro y Moi because we're afraid an explanation would only frighten us more.
4. Daughtry, Break The Spell
Ah, the "stand there and look tough in what appears to be a level from Halo" rock album cover trope. Anyone else find it odd that "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry and his posse are standing in an apocalyptic wasteland and yet are rocking their finest leathers and denims?
3. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Belong
There's a reason watercolor is the first type of paint you work with in first grade art class: no matter your skill level, it looks like s***. As you can see from The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's cover, everything just runs together and muddles into a brownish s*** haze.
2. Mr. Muthaf***in' eXquire, Lost In Translation
Makes you want to take a shower and scrub yourself raw.
1. Yuck, Yuck
We're guessing someone in Yuck tore this out of a seventh grade math book. At least the title shows the band is self-aware.
+ Check out all of our Best of 2011 coverage