Brian Eno & David Byrne and Neil Young Album Covers Win Grammy Awards

Award season has officially come into full swing. Now the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have handed out their Golden Globes two weeks ago, this weekend The Recording Academy honoured “artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position” with the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. The Grammys are universally acclaimed for being forward-thinking and adventurous, and keeping their proverbial finger tightly on the pulse of the developments in contemporary music. But rather than extol the virtues of the only peer-presented awards in the music industry, allow me to pick a few random examples that demonstrate their relevance.

In 1989 the Grammy committee realise that metal and other heavy rock genres just refuse to go extinct, so the category Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental is added to the list of Awards. Unphased by the releases from Metallica, Jane’s Addiction, and Iggy Pop, The Recording Academy peel away several layers of corny and unearth the hard rock/metal qualities at the core of Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave.

Dance is a difficult category, especially since some people will dance to just about anything. Despite Moby being certain to take home the 2001 Grammy for Natural Blues, The Recording Academy prove their acumen by awarding the Baha Men for their stellar Who Let the Dogs Out. Furthermore they are one of the very few who bravely acknowledge that “new” is merely a relative concept, as two years ago they nominated Feist in the category Best New Artist with The Reminder, her third album – disregarding her remix album Open Season.

In 1993, at the height of grunge, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit is the surefire winner in the categories Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal and Best Rock Song. Refusing to be predictable The Recording Academy award the visceral power of Eric Clapton’s acoustic rendition of his classic Layla. And in 1976 they are hardly impressed by Queen’s tour-de-force Bohemian Rhapsody, ignoring one of the most innovative and ground-breaking pop songs in history in favour of Chicago’s unforgettable If You Leave Me Now.
With thanks to Studio Brussel for the trivia.
In the list of nominees and winners, the ones that interest us most on The FontFeed are of course Field 22 – Package with the categories 87 and 88, for Best Recording Package and Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package, and Field 29 – Music Video with the categories 108 and 109, for Best Short Form Music Video and Best long Form Music Video. Here they are:

Best Recording Package

The fold-out cardboard sleeve is so complex it comes with an instruction video on YouTube. It features pop-up figurines of the legendary sort-of-fictional metal band. With digital music penetrating the market more and more, bands, labels and especially designers are stepping up their game to get their product noticed. Brian Porizek explains he feels the need to offer music fans added value, something more than just the standard CD jewel case configuration. “It has to be something that you want to keep as a collector’s item. With dwindling sales, it’s just an added bonus that I can add as a designer.” The bold Fraktur is kind of predictable yet completely miscast on a tombstone.

Although I was aware of the album I didn’t know anything about its underlying themes. I’ll simply let Stefan Sagmeister himself explain how he came up with the Sims-related imagery for the most recent collaboration of David Byrne and Brian Eno. And it paid off, as the package won the Grammy in this category.

It’s a shame the album covers found on the web don’t integrate the wonderful typography, some kind of custom connected sans caps.

Now this one I like a lot. It’s bold, it’s fresh, and it’s dynamic. Neko Case poses as a belligerent hood ornament, a fierce, fiery red-headed valkyrie on her steel horse. The hand drawn type, paper rips, and painted shadow underneath the car add raw power to her sleek appearance. This album cover was also selected as one of the 25 Best Album Covers Of The Decade (2000–2009) by Paste Magazine.

See more of Kathleen Judge’s work here.

  • Splitting Adam | Splitting Adam
    Art director | Jeff Harrison
    Label | Independent

From the Rethink Communications website:

The concept surrounds a fictitious character named Adam and his internal struggle with an audio triggered bipolar disorder. The cover splits Adam to reveal inside his head, a 3D animated hologram which morphs from a passive lamb into an aggressive ape. The CD and insert artwork documents Adam’s mental state along with vital statistics and final prognosis.

The photo of Adam was created using a combination of all 5 band members photos. Each band member needed to be photographed in rotation which was used as the basis to create the smooth animated sequence. The packaging dieline was developed custom for this project and the hologram manufactured in Russia.

H&FJ Gotham spells out the band name/album title. See the full package on the Flickr page of Rethink’s Jeff Harrison.

  • He Xun Tian / Various Artists | Tathagata
    Art directors | Szu Wei Cheng & Hui Chen Huang
    Label | Wind Music


Photos © Szu Wei Cheng 鄭司維 | Keystone Design
Szu Wei Cheng and Hui Chen Huang’s design is very subdued and exudes quiet power. The faux Asian lettering treads the fine line between corny and appropriate, but manages to stay on the good side.

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package

The problem with boxed and limited edition packages is that one has to actually manipulate them to truly experience what they look and feel like, so I can’t say much about those. The winner of this Grammy is Neil Young Archives Vol. I (1963–1972).

The band logo and album title are set in Silas Dilworth‘s delicate Vandermark.

Gary Burden provides background information on his website.

Best Short Form Music Video

The winner in this category is Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow.


Beast – Mr. Hurricane from MapleMusic Recordings on Vimeo.

  • Beast | Mr. Hurricane
    Video director | Ben Steiger Levine
    Video producer | Sach Baylin-Stern,
    Label | Verve Forecast


Black Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow by www.stateofmusic.net from State Of Music on Vimeo.

  • Black Eyed Peas | Boom Boom Pow
    Video directors | Mat Cullen & Mark Kudsi
    Video producers | Anna Joseph & Patrick Nugent
    Label | Interscope Records


Coldplay – Life In Technicolor II from Rury Gonzalez on Vimeo.

  • Coldplay | Life In Technicolor II
    Video director | Dougal Wilson
    Video producer | Matthew Fone
    Label | Capitol


Depeche Mode – Wrong – directed by Patrick Daughters from Bruno Dejonghe on Vimeo.

  • Depeche Mode | Wrong
    Video director | Patrick Daughters
    Video producer | Jonathan Lia
    Label | Capitol


Oren Lavie – Her morning elegance from Mimì on Vimeo.

  • Oren Lavie | Her Morning Elegance
    Label | A Quarter Past Wonderful/Adrenaline

Best Long Form Music Video

The winner in this category is The Beatles Love – All Together Now.

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