Metallica and Radiohead Album Covers Win Grammy

Just like similar competitions the Grammy Awards feature a staggering amount of categories – the 51st edition had no less than 110 winners. The general consensus amongst music connoisseurs is that musically the Grammies have little relevance. Many relevant contemporary acts are nowhere to be found amongst the nominations nor the winners. So frankly I couldn’t be bothered with them too much.

Nevertheless there are two fields that interest me as they relate to topics which are covered on The FontFeed – Field 24 – Package and Field 31 – Music Video. Let’s take a look at who was nominated, and who won the coveted award.

Best Recording Package

So Metallica won the Grammy for Best Recording Package… Figures – everybody knows sex sells, so having a vagina on your cover wins over any jury. Aw come on, really, you know I’m right – stop fooling yourself! :D I can imagine how the meeting with the art directors went. “So Lars and James, what do you think?” “Well, the album is called Death Magnetic, so having a coffin shaped hole with iron shavings around it revealing a magnetic field… errr… isn’t that a little too obvious?” “Very perceptive, gents, but now squint your eyes a little and take another look.” “What do you mea… Ooh! Whoa, Lars, is that a…?” “Wha… Ooh, James, now I see it! Oooooh!” “Heh heh heh…” “Hee hee hee!” “Har har har!” I guess they all left that meeting giggling like school girls, the bunch of juvenile nincompoops. :P

Seriously, you can deduce from my review last Ocober that I find it hard to believe this is the best album packaging released last year. And the logo is supposed to have been fine-tuned? Maybe a more radical redesign was in order. But I haven’t seen the inside pages, so maybe that part is genius. I wouldn’t know.

Hawk Nelson …Is My Friend! is loads of fun; fresh and joyous. The retro illustration is very nice – it reminds me of the Foster’s Home of Imaginary Friends animated series my kids sometimes watch – with a stylish colour palette and picture-perfect typography. The style is right up Rian Hughes’ alley: the brushy sans is Agent Of The Uncanny from Device Fonts. And the casual serif face with curly bits is appropriately called Twister, a design by Jason Walcott.

  • No Age | Nouns
    No Age & Brian Roettinger, art directors
    Sub Pop

The album cover for No Age’s Nouns is a typical product of its time. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It successfully appropriates the current fad of restrained designs featuring type so fat its counters disappear. I think it is very efficient and probably makes the album cover stand out in the colourful cacophony usually seen on shop displays.

Radio Retaliation is another example a subdued album cover that stands out in the crowd. Will you mock me if I admit I don’t quite understand what’s behind the design? The only thing I can think of is that Thievery Corporation create music that sounds like a soundtrack intended to make your life seem way cooler than it actually is. I can imagine you feel like an invincible urban ninja when cruising the city while listening to their music through your headphones, so that might be the connection.

Summer Rains with its dream-like atmosphere has a completely different style than Hawk Nelson …Is My Friend! but it is just as much fun and very witty, a bit like a Glen Baxter cartoon. The band name made up of seagulls and the album title integrated in the rain made me laugh.

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package

It’s impossible to comment on limited edition packages if you can’t actually hold them, open them and discover what’s inside, so I will refrain from commenting. Radiohead’s In Rainbows won the award.


A PDF of the artwork for Ghosts I-IV can be viewed on Issuu.


  • Radiohead | In Rainbows
    Stanley Donwood, Mel Maxwell & Christiaan Munro, art directors
    TBD Records

  • Wu Sheng | Poems & Songs
    Qing-Yang Xiao, art director
    Ring of Fire Music


Interview on Wired with artist Gary Taxali who did the artwork for @#%&*! Smilers.

Best Short Form Music Video

  • Erykah Badu | Honey
    Erykah Badu & Mr. Roboto, video directors; Megan Gutman, video producer
    Universal Motown

  • Alicia Keys & Jack White | Another Way To Die
    PR Brown & MK12, video directors; Dexton Deboree, Lance Ebeling, Mick Ebeling, Sheira Rees-Davies & Jane Tredget, video producers
    J Records

  • Weezer | Pork And Beans
    Mathew Cullen, video director; Bernard Rahill, video producer

Winner of this category. And deservedly so if I may add. This clever spoof on the YouTube hypes is one of the funniest music promos of the past year.

Best Long Form Music Video

Winner of this category.

  • Rihanna | Good Girl Gone Bad Live
    Paul Caslin, video director; John Paveley, Ruth Paveley & Rupert Style, video producers
    Def Jam/SRP Records/Mercury Music Group/Universal Music

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  1. Fun collection. The only one I really can’t stand is NO AGE. Interesting type design, but such a snore-inducing execution.

    Posted by Jeff on Feb. 11, 2009
  2. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping packaging.

    Posted by foresmac on Feb. 11, 2009
  3. “But I haven’t seen the inside pages, so maybe that part is genius. I wouldn’t know.”

    I’ve seen them. No genius.

    Posted by Armando on Feb. 11, 2009
  4. LOL :D

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 11, 2009
  5. @foresmac: I didn’t see Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping packaging in the list of Grammy nominations. Did I miss something?

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 11, 2009
  6. Don Clark who did the Hawk nelson stuff is from Invisible Creature, they also did the Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, which i think is a wonderful cover.

    what i like about them is that Don and his brother Ryan are both in bands too, so they seems a great fit to design for bands.

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Feb. 17, 2009
  7. So what’s the difference between long form music videos and short form music videos?

    Posted by dlister on Feb. 18, 2009
  8. Short form music videos are promotional videos for single songs, video clips as we call them here. Long form music videos are documentaries like The Stax Records Story and The Story Of The Who, and recordings of concerts like John Mayer’s and Rihanna’s.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 18, 2009
  9. > they also did the Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, which i think is a wonderful cover.

    Clever design; I like it as well.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 18, 2009
  10. It looks to me that this site doesnt load up on a Motorola Droid. Are other people having the exact same issue? I enjoy this site and dont want to have to miss it when Im away from my computer.

    Posted by Tami Hawkings on May. 16, 2012
  11. First of all this album and lot of Thievery Corporation albums are to oppose the cruelty of capitalism. The guy on Radio Retaliation cover is the spokesman of EZLN, the Zapata Movement which stands with the people of Mexico against the tyrants.

    Posted by Taulant on Jun. 27, 2012

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