5 things we’ve learned from the worst album titles ever

The saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ may well be true, but what about its title? When we’re talking music, album names can make all the difference when we’re choosing whether or not to give it a spin. Silly, bizarre and unpronounceable album names can be frustrating, weird and downright gross. Here are some important lessons learned from the absolute worst offendors.

#1 Don’t make it unnecessarily long

We get it, you have a lot of feelings to get out. But perhaps don’t scribble one half of Tolstoy’s War & Peace on the front of your album if you don’t want to annoy the living crap out of everyone. Yes, we’re looking at you Fiona Apple.

Prime offenders: 

Fiona Apple – When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king
What he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight
And he’ll win the whole thing ‘fore he enters the ring
There’s no body to batter when your mind is your might
So when you go solo, you hold your own hand
And remember that depth is the greatest of heights
And if you know where you stand, then you know where to land
And if you fall it won’t matter, cause you’ll know that you’re right

Chumbawumba – The Boy Bands Have Won and All The Copyists and The Tribute Bands and The TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture To Be Shaped By Mimicry, Whether From Lack Of Ideas Or From Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try To Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother’s Hand–Me–Down Jacket and Re–Style It, Re–Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don’t Just Regurgitate Creative History, Or Hold Art And Music And Literature As Fixed, Untouchable And Kept Under Glass. The People  Who Try To ‘Guard’ Any Particular Form Of Music Are, Like The Copyists And Manufactured Bands, Doing It The Worst Disservice, Because The Only Thing That You Can Do To Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It’s Over, Then It’s Done, and The Boy Bands Have Won

Fiona Apple –  …The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do.

The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

#2 If it feels creepy as fuck, it probably is

While You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish is an undeniably excellent pun (puns are cool right? Nope? Anyone?), REO Speedwagon should have thought twice before sticking it on on an album. Puns are out, cheesy is out, anything remotely sleazy is definitely out. Here’s a good test to avoid fucking up your album with a cringeworthy title: try saying it while winking at someone – if it feels creepy as fuck, it probably is.

Prime offenders: 

Paul McCartney –  Kisses On The Bottom 

Alice Cooper –  Zipper Catches Skin

Jermaine Jackson – Let Me Tickle Your Fancy

Ted Nugent – If You Can’t Lick ‘Em, Lick ‘Em

REO Speedwagon – You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish

The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

#3 Don’t be pretentious

Perhaps the only thing worse than a cringeworthy title is one that takes itself so seriously you can’t actually even see it anymore because it disappeared up its own arse. Yes, you’re a Serious Artist, with Lots of Things To Say. Let that come through in your music, don’t slap a name on it that makes people want to give you a good poke in the nose.

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Prime offenders: 

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

Mew – No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away // No More Stories, The World Is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away

Sting – The Dream of the Blue Turtles

Belle And Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant 

Justin Bieber – Purpose 

The 1975 –I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

#4 Don’t make it unpronounceable

If an album can’t be pronounced by simply looking at the title, chances are it needs to change. Not only do symbols, misleading letters and generally indecipherable album titles not only become difficult to talk about (or type about), but it usually causes more than a few insufferable holier-than-thou conversations where one person has to correct the other about the right way to say it.

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Prime examples: 

Ed Sheeran – ÷ (“divide”)

M.I.A – /\/\ /\ Y /\ (“Maya”)

Ministry – ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ (“Psalm 69”)

Led Zeppelin – (“Led Zeppelin IV”/”Untitled”)

Prince – (“Love Symbol Album”/”Symbol”)

Marnie Stern – This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That

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#5 If they’re too fucking gross, or just plain weird

Ask yourself: is it really that necessary to release an album with such an arbitrarily gross name that it makes the listener want to be sick before they’ve even given it a spin? Unless you’re a performance artist where vomiting is part of your shtick – or you’re Cannibal Corpse – it might be best to leave the creepy, bizarre, heave-inducing moments to the music. The same applies for album artwork.


Prime offenders: 

GUT – Hyper-Intestinal Vulva Desecration 

Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water

Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician

Omar Rodríguez-López — Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fungus

Detroit Grand Pubahs – Galactic Ass Creatures From Uranus 

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