There's some stiff competition for the top spot...
GIGWISE

15:32 16th December 2008

Following on from our  worst album artwork countdown, Gigwise now presents the 30 best album covers of 2008! There's some stiff competition this year in the shape of James' ultra-controversial 'Hey Ma', the hilarious 'Tha Carter III' by Lil Wayne and Fleet Foxes' picturesque debut to name but a few. Click through to see who makes number one...

  • 30. Nine Inch Nails: 'The Slip' – The 2008 digital release from Trent Reznor and co. came with eerie artwork of a ghostly hand reaching for the shoulder of a man. Evocative of the freaky cover to Butthole Surfers' 1990 live album 'Double Live'.

  • 29. Silver Jews: 'Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea' – What looks like a just an ordinary rock face on first glance actually also features giant cartoon elephants abseiling.

  • 28. Of Montreal: 'Skeletal Lamping' - Symbolic of the kaleidoscopic sounds Of Montreal serve up, the bizarre cartoon image of genital-less naked people frolicking in some kind of warped, acid-tinged garden of Eden is completely fucked up. In a good way, of course.

  • 27. Black Mountain: 'In The Future' – There's not much to say about this sleeve really, other than it looks damn fine.

  • 26. Fuck Buttons: Street Horrrsing – Musically, the Bristol two-piece sound as though they've been plugged into a computer while their artwork fittingly looks as though it was lifted from an early 90s console game.

  • 25. N*E*R*D: 'Seeing Sounds' – Extremely Basement Jaxx-esque in the artwork stakes, the computerised image of Pharrell, Chad and Shay standing in front of a giant red gorilla is instantly memorable. A marked improvement on the dire cover to their 2002 debut 'In Search Of...'

  • 24. Weezer: 'Weezer (The Red Album)' – While the band should be duly kicked for their consistently unimaginative album titles, Rivers Cuomo rescues the day with his ridiculous cowboy hat and moustache combo. Hilarious.

  • 23. Bloc Party: 'Intimacy' - A close-up, intimate and rather ambiguous photo of a couple getting, erm, intimate.

  • 22. O'Death: 'Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin' - Worthy of a place on the list for its sheer weirdness, the two freaky, faceless children peering at a butterfly is an image you're unlikely to forget for a good while.

  • 21. Sigur Ros: 'With A Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly' - The first Sigur Ros album to feature some happy songs naturally needed a light-hearted cover. We didn't expect it to be three men and a woman running butt-naked across a highway on a summer's day, however!

  • 20. Shearwater: 'Rook' – Pretty much self-explanatory, the American indie outfit's fifth album features a strangely beguiling sleeve of an anonymous character sieged by a flock of rooks. As striking as it is unusual.

  • 19. The Gutter Twins: 'Saturnalia' – On paper it would seem ridiculous that two plastic chairs in front of a wooden building have made our list, yet there's something immensely powerful and haunting about this image.

  • 18. Metallica: 'Death Magnetic' – A pretty much explanatory sleeve reminding us that we are all drawn towards death eventually. Cheers Metallica. The beauty of it, however, is the layers that peel away when you turn each page of the booklet, taking you gradually towards the bottom of the grave. Nice.

  • 17. Made Out Of Babies: 'The Ruiner' – A twisted parody of the cover to Interpol's 'Our Love To Admire', the image of two Neanderthals slaying a gazelle is nothing short of genius.

  • 16. Minotaur Shock: 'Amateur Dramatics' – A pencil sketch of a small bird my seem like an dire choice for a record sleeve, but Bristol's Minotaur Shock pull it off perfectly. We record it's the inquisitive, slightly vacant look on the bird's face that does it.

  • 15. Evangelicals: 'The Evening Descends' – Like something lifted from a horror flick, the genuinely petrified looking eyes peering ominously from the centre of the album cover warrant this a place on the list.

  • 14. Neon Neon: 'Stainless Style' – Kinky and naughty, certain editions of the album's inner sleeve also feature a woman's hand suggestively holding a gear stick. If that had of been the front cover it would be much higher on the list.

  • 13. Girl Talk: 'Feed The Animals' – It's an extremely simple idea, scorching the band's initials onto grass outside a generic American home, yet it's devastatingly effective. Hardly the cover you'd have in mind for a record called 'Feed The Animals' though.

  • 12. Gang Gang Dance: 'Saint Dymphna' – All of their previous album covers have been damn weird – 2007's 'Rettina Riddim' for example featured a baby gorilla eating a yellow block toy – but 'Saint Dymphna' takes it to another level.

  • 11. The Accidental: 'There Were Wolves' – The English folk band's cover of a ghost adorned with some kind of floral designed hat is strangely likeable. In fact, we love it.

  • 10. Johnny Foreigner: 'Waited Up Till It Was Light' – The luminous ghost-like figures that feature in the band's press shots take centre stage on this eye-catching cover. A but strange, but we love it nonetheless.

  • 9. Lambchop: 'OH (Ohio)' – A hilarious drawing of a middle-aged couple stark bollock naked in a shop window, the fact that the Noel Edmonds lookalike is tweaking the woman's left breast only adds to its charm.

  • 8. Sparks: 'Exotic Creatures Of The Deep' - Two alternate covers featuring both Sparks brothers, Ron and Russell Mael, the star of the cover though is undoubtedly the cool-as-fuck chimpanzee in dapper white suit and bow tie.

  • 7. Fleet Foxes: 'Fleet Foxes' – Okay, Fleet Foxes have technically broke the rules here by using an original painting – the 1559 masterpiece 'Netherlandish Proverbs' by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, to be precise – yet it seems to perfectly suit the stunning, harmonious folk-indie music the record contains.

  • 6. Pyramids: 'Pyramids' – The record itself is a hazy, post-rock epic that messes with your senses from start to finish (in the best possible way). The cover of two stags with a mesh of lines and kaleidoscopic colours attached to their antlers is a fitting head-fuck.

  • 5. Nas: 'Untitled' – Originally set to be titled 'Nigga' and then 'Nigger', despite eventually being untitled due to the massive public uproar, Nas' 2008 album still packs a punch. Musically it is hard-hitting and thought provoking, while the cover shows a shirtless Nas with flagellation scars forming the shape of the letter N; a direct reference to the racial slur and also how slaves were whipped and tortured.

  • 4. Grails: 'Doomsdayer's Holiday' – Weird as fuck, the shocking image of a semi-naked female with a gargoyle's head riding a pig-like creature is like something out of a drug-induced nightmare. The fact that the Oregon instrumental rockers decided to use it as their album sleeve can only be commended highly.

  • 3. Sebastien Tellier: 'Sexuality' – Gigwise has described this record as a 'sexed-up, throbbing erection of an album', so it seems perfectly natural that the artwork fits. Hilarious, tongue-in-cheek and slightly risqué, Tellier describes this album cover as his own “sexual fantasy”. The work of a clearly warped but brilliant mind!

  • 2. Lil Wayne: 'Tha Carter III' – Nothing short of genius, the hilarious image of a baby Lil Wayne fitted with bling, tattoos and a grey suit is one of the most enduring record covers of the year - if not the decade. Better still, Wayne made a devastating awesome album to match.

  • 1. James: 'Hey Ma' – The unforgettable cover to James' tenth studio album has overshadowed the music itself. A baby choosing between a gun and his toys, it's a pertinent comment on violence in the contemporary world. Despite the artwork being banned from billboard advertising campaigns, the media storm around the cover has secured the band priceless publicity. Best album cover of 2008 by a mile.