The worst Kiss album covers usually get created when whoever's in charge forgets the acronym that ties in so well with the band's name - Keep it Simple, Stupid. As you can see from our list of the 10 Best Kiss Album Covers, the group's famous facial makeup lends itself very well to a variety of settings and poses, but when Kiss or their creative team try to get too complicated or forget who the stars of the show should be, well, things can go wrong pretty quickly. Here's our list of the 5 Worst Kiss Album Covers:
'Hot in the Shade' (1989)
As you'll see, a quick way to get yourself onto our list of worst Kiss album covers is by making the focal point of your art something besides the band's famous faces. It's not that we don't think you could make a good cover without having Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons' mugs plastered all over it, it's just that nobody has really done it yet. Take the sunglasses-wearing sphinx featured on the cover of 'Hot in the Shade,' which would look more at home hanging on the wall of some wacky fun-time themed family restaurant.
'Music From the Elder' (1981)
Well, technically Kiss is on the cover of this album -- that's Paul Stanley's hand about to use the world's most ornate door-knocker. The band wanted a suitably epic visual calling card for their flop of a 1981 concept album about a young warrior's mythical quest for manhood. What they ended up with was a largely brown mass that caused music store owners some trouble. See, most record bins were brown or black, making this record hard to notice even for those dedicated few fans who would have been interested in buying it.
As their late-'70s popularity waned, Kiss did little to counter the arguments of critics who accused their music of being cartoonish with this, well, cartoon strip of a cover. The title indicates it's finally going to be time for the band to take off their omnipresent makeup and reveal their true faces. But, when the strip's nagging reporter finally does manage to get them to do so, they reveal -- gasp? -- more makeup under the makeup. It was a ruse! (Editor's confession: this record is pretty damn catchy. Check out 'Torpedo Girl.')
'Carnival of Souls' (1997)
When Kiss reunited with their original lineup in 1996, it was natural that the album they had just completed with the non-makeup version of the group would fall by the wayside. Similarly, when bootleg copies and fan demand caused they band to belatedly issue the record, it's understandable that they didn't break the bank working on the cover art. But...c'mon. Bruce Kulick could have at least shaven for the photo session.
After nearly two decades, in 1996 the original members of Kiss got together, in full makeup, for an ultra-successful reunion tour, then headed into the studio to make a brand new original record. They announce a circus-themed title for the project, which sounds very promising. But as the (admittedly very clever) lenticular cover reveals a stage curtain being drawn back, we get the big, glorious front and center painted face of.... a clown? That's right, the four famous faces we all wanted to see on an album cover again are reduced to framed quarter-sized images in favor of Captain Howdy's big brother.
See how well you know Gene, Paul and the rest with the little-known facts on this exclusive video!