The Albums That Never Were: We Reimagine Iconic Music Album Covers Using AI
Love it or hate it, AI has been at the centre of much discussion for months now, exploding into almost all areas of our day-to-day lives.
One such space that has seen a significant impact from the rise of AI is popular culture, specifically the music industry, with artists and producers alike openly experimenting with the technology for several years now.
More recently, the recent release of Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie movie prompted musician, Dustin Ballard, aka “There I Ruined It”, to use AI to generate a rather impressive cover of Barbie Girl by none other than music royalty, Johnny Cash.
Having explored the use of AI in campaign for several of our own clients in recent months, and with many big music lovers scattered across our various teams, we were keen to run our own music-themed experiment using AI. Read on to find out more…
Our Own AI Experiment
Creativity is understandably a huge part of making an album and is something that goes far beyond just the music creation aspect of doing so.
When it comes to thinking up what to name the album, there can be many iterations trialled before the artist and producers finally agree upon the well-known album titles many of us will recognise from our favourite bands and artists.
With this in mind, we were keen to explore what a number of iconic albums could have looked like had the artist gone with their original choice of title.
Arctic Monkeys – Suck it and See
‘Suck it and See’, was the 2011 album from the Arctic Monkeys and was originally due to be named ‘The Rain-Shaped Shimmer Trap’, according to our research.
The cover that was released kept things simple with a cream-white background and the album title written across the front, but as you can see, AI has reimagined the much-loved album as a rather abstract yet futuristic steel-grey coloured shape – it’s unique to say the least!
Blur – Park Life
Did you know, the album ‘Park Life’ by Blur was once destined to be called ‘London Loves’. Now, we’re not sure about you, but we don’t think it has quite the same ring to it.
The band’s best-selling album sold more than a million copies and even inspired the name of a popular Manchester music festival.
And while the artwork that featured on the popular album showed two racing greyhounds, AI has reimagined this album cover with a rather gloomy image of people in a grey, rainy, London.
David Bowie – Station to Station
Bowie is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable artists of our time, both in terms of voice and aesthetics, and we feel like this AI interpretation of his album art, ‘Station to Station’, reflects his style to a T.
The album was once intended to be called ‘Golden Years’, and if we’re honest, we actually much prefer this more colourful version of the cover, as the Bowie fans know and love was much moodier in comparison.
The Beatles – Revolver
Much like Bowie, the Beatles were renowned for their often interesting and unique style when it came to their approach to music, fashion, and even album artwork.
‘Revolver’ is the band’s seventh album and was released way back in 1966. Fans of the Beatles will likely know that the album cover features a black and white sketch of the Fab Four, intertwined with a series of photographic images of the band.
The AI version, however, is based on the album’s original name, ‘Abracadabra’ and as you can see, features a much more colourful scene featuring the band – we actually think the Beatles would be quite fond of this version, don’t you?
Nirvana – Nevermind
Indie rock and roll legends, Nirvana, released their album ‘Nevermind’ in 1991, the cover of which famously featured a baby swimming underwater towards a dollar bill.
Naturally, with the album’s original title, ‘Sheep’, the AI version was bound to look a little different to the album that fans will recognise today.
As such, the reimagined album cover is pretty trippy in comparison and shows a flock of sheep lit up by the harsh light coming for a neon sign hung above an out of place lift shaft.
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac was released all the way back in 1977. The album features some of the band’s most loved songs, including ‘The Chain’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’.
On the cover that made the cut, stylised black and white imagery of band members Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood, along with the band and album name, can be seen on top of a striking yellow backdrop.
And despite being a far cry from the version we recognise today, our reworked cover does seem to have taken a little inspiration from the Rumours artwork.
Based on the album’s previous name, ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ the AI cover shows the two band members, albeit in slightly more colourful attire. It certainly emulates the style and feel of Fleetwood Mac and their bohemian chic beautifully.
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Named after one of MJ’s best-known hits, ‘Thriller’, the album by the same name simply featured the artist looking effortlessly suave in a white suit with a contrasting black shirt and belt.
However, as the album was nearly called ‘Starlight’, it’s understandable that AI took a rather different route when reimaging this album cover…
Our version has certainly adopted space as its theme, with a rather space-age-looking Michael Jackson sporting a silver leather jacket surrounded by space, stars, and the milky way. We’re convinced he’d have approved of the outfit choice given to him by AI.
David Bowie – Low
Another Bowie title has made our AI reimagined music hall of fame. This time, it’s his 1977 album that was simply titled ‘Low’ and featured the man himself against a rather vibrant shade of orange.
The originally planned album name; ‘New Music Night and Day’, was a little less catchy. That being said, the AI version which was created around said title is certainly quite striking in comparison to the actual cover and emulates Bowie’s unique aesthetic well.
Queen – The Miracle
Naturally, we couldn’t pull together a list of iconic bands and artists without including one of the biggest legends in rock and roll, Queen.
Queen’s studio album, ‘The Miracle’ was released on May 22nd 1989, and was named after a song that was included on the album tracklist.
What even some of the biggest Queen fans may not realise, is that the album was due to be called ‘The Invisible Man’, after another song that is also on the popular album’s tracklist.
And it’s easy to see that our Midjourney took plenty of inspiration from the title of this track when working its magic and recreating the album cover.
Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
Next up, we asked AI to reimagine the album, ‘Exile on Main Street’ by rock royalty, the Rolling Stones.
Released in 1972, the album’s working title was ‘Tropical Disease’, due to the humidity and extreme heat of the basement where the band recorded the album.
That said, the AI version of the artwork is quite striking and a stark contrast from the version that was released which featured a series of black and white images of the band.
The Beatles – Abbey Road
And finally, another place on our list for the Beatles, this time with an AI-reimagined version of their iconic album, ‘Abbey Road’.
The Fab Four famously named the album after the iconic London recording studios, and it was in fact their last album recorded as the beloved foursome due to musical and personal differences.
It’s hard to imagine a well-known album cover such as this featuring anything other than the Beatles walking over the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing, however, the album was nearly named ‘Everest’ in relation to the cigarettes engineer Geoff Emerick smoked during the recording sessions.
It’s easy to see why AI has drawn its inspiration for the reworked version from the world’s highest mountain.
It never fails to amaze us just how incredible AI can be, especially when it comes to creating visual assets such as these. It’s certainly has been fun experimenting with AI for ourselves and we’re pleasantly surprised with some of the reimagined album artwork delivered by Midjourney.
That said, it’s our belief that some album covers are truly iconic and therefore could never really be anything other than the ones many of us know and love.
If you’re keen to explore the use of AI in your campaigns, or simply want to learn more about the other Digital PR, Creative, or any of the other digital services we have to offer and discover how they can help you and your brand, then please get in touch today.