Local Current Blog

Prince, Taylor Swift, and other artists who’ve looked to newspapers for album-cover inspiration

Taylor Swift has just announced her new album: Reputation, out Nov. 10. The album cover has Swift’s name printed in various fonts inspired by newspaper mastheads, presumably as a comment on how much she’s been in the news for various reasons.

I immediately started thinking of other album covers that drew on newspapers for design inspiration — and Sean McPherson pointed out that one of them was Prince, whose 1981 album Controversy featured news headlines about, well, controversial subjects.

Other artists that came to mind included Guns N’ Roses and Elvis Presley; when I tweeted a comparison of the Prince and Swift covers, Jon Hunt shared other “newsworthy” covers. A few web searches revealed even more.

“Newsy” covers definitely come and go in waves — the early ’70s and the late ’80s marked popular eras for newspaper-influenced album art designs. Other albums have newspaper-like back covers or gatefolds, and then there are artists like Radiohead (King of Limbs) and Bon Iver (22, A Million), who have released actual newspapers along with their albums. What other newspaper-influenced album art are we missing?

Tom Lehrer, Songs by Tom Lehrer (1958)

Pete Seeger, Gazette, Vol. 2 (1961)

The Four Seasons, The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette (1969)

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Some Time in New York City (1972)

Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick (1972)

Nina Simone, Emergency Ward (1972)

Eric Burdon and War, Love is All Around (1976)

Public Image Ltd., “Public Image” (single, 1978)

Tom Waits, Heartattack and Vine (1980)

Elvis Presley, The Memphis Record (1987)

Guns N’ Roses, GN’R Lies (1988)

Roxette, Look Sharp! (1988)

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek (2014)

Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings (2016)