Let's get this straight- I fucking love David Bowie. I have always loved David Bowie. Not always actively, at first, but yes. I remember being like 7 years old and watching a laser light show set to Space Oddity with my ultra cool dad (who turned me on to some of the best music I've ever listened to). I didn't start actively listening to Bowie until high school, and only really got into him when Outside came out. That dark cyberpunk masterpiece was the soundtrack to me striking out with amazing college girls, and those events would later be novelized. Outside is pretty edgy and not on a lot of Bowie fan's lists, but it is seriously underrated. Later I'd get into Ziggy-era bowie, then shitty 80s Bowie, and Berlin-era Bowie... you get the picture. Hell, it was just earlier this year that I actually really listened to The Man Who Sold The World, and was completely blown away. It may be my favorite album now, and I was kind of pissed that nobody had told me Bowie was Black Sabbath for a brief period of time. It's a tribute to the strength of the corpus that a person can continually be amazed and surprised by new offerings from an established artist's back catalogue, even in this day and age of "download whole discography in 10 minutes."
And it's not just me. I won't speak about Bowie's appeal to the rest of the world, because in many ways that's like saying "in many portions of the world people get wet when it's raining". However, I will speak about my daughter Amelia. Facebook friends and longtime readers of CIMTB may remember her as the coolest fucking person to have ever walked the face of the earth. She just turned 4. She loves David Bowie. Yes, it started with his performance in Labyrinth, but she has gone on to appreciate his music for its own sake. Bowie was also her gateway to Iggy Pop- his collaboration with Death In Vegas being one of her favorite videos. And now she's loving some Alice Cooper... I guess it's all about showmanship for her. But then again, what are we talking about? Highly jaded music critics and their wonderful small children can both appreciate the same artist... the wonderful David Bowie.
Of course, sometimes it seems like David Bowie can do anything, but as we all just found out one thing he can't do is stay retired. His new single was just released, including a terrifying video about which the less said the better. Not just a single, though- be still my beating heart- a new album, The Next Day, due out for release March 13th.
But there's a problem.
An album has to have a cover, right? And Bowie's have been some of the most iconic. Sure, he's had some stinkers- what the fuck is up with Lodger?- but overall there's evidence of a strong visual aesthetic. So for this first album in a decade, what does an elder Bowie do?
So let me get this straight. He took the awesome cover of Heroes, and had some motherfucker MS Paint a white box and the title of the album over it? Wha? Art designer Jonathan Barnbrook, please fucking explain yourself:
"The “Heroes” cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is ‘of the moment’, forgetting or obliterating the past."
Okay, sure. We didn't ask you to time travel to 1973 and snort whatever that white powder was on James Osterberg's leg, we just wanted you to actually make an album cover, not some sort of half-assed philosophical statement. You can read the whole interview by clicking the link in the quote, not that I would recommend it.
Look, I'm as much on minimalism and iconoclasm as the next guy. Maybe more. Actually, a lot more. But this just reeks of a joke. I don't even want to think about the possibility that it's serious.
Anyway, down to the meat of things. I think that you- dear faithful reader- could create a better album cover for The Next Day than Mr. Fancy Pants Art Designer up there, and that's exactly what I want you to do. Here, I'll start.
There, see, isn't that better? Well, not better exactly, but it's certainly not any worse, and that's the point. Here's your assignment- take the cover image from Heroes, use your crudest tools, and make a better cover. Now, I wouldn't expect you guys to do this for free- send 'em in, I'll feature the best ones on a future post, and the winner of my choosing will receive a CD and shirt from new friend of the blog, SKULK THE HULKING. Get to work! Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org !