Jul 11, 2012

The Voice: decoding the album art

Last night my bus stop was glowing with promise, with stardust. It was the campaign for the albums by the finalists in The Voice, the program that popstar Seal proclaimed as The Greates

W H Chong — Culture Mulcher

W H Chong

Culture Mulcher

Last night my bus stop was glowing with promise, with stardust. It was the campaign for the albums by the finalists in The Voice, the program that popstar Seal proclaimed as The Greatest Event in Australian Television History. (Channel 9’s hit-beyond-their-wildest-dreams is franchise reality, via the US/Europe, originating as The Voice of Holland.) The backlit poster showcased the winner in queenly repose, but looking anxiously to (her) right. The sticky type under her name completes the slogan: Karise Eden is The Voice. The small type at the bottom: Get all the songs they performed on The Voice on their new albums.

Karise, the album: Neo-hippie, not hipster

On the main board Our Karise has been styled in neo-hippie regalia, silver bangles, rings and hoop earrings with long black tresses, in a faux lace pattern blouse, reclining on a period style divan. The reference is 60s rock — ie, Authentic Rock’n’Roll. The overall brown tones also evoke time past. The perfect reference just too far for the present day is the iconic Janis Joplin whose natural wild-child style was anti-manicured. The pre-polished Karise, right, was much more like that. Of course, Karise famously comes with her own survivor story; her brief wiki entry includes “Early life and struggles,” much expanded in the popular press. The constructed audience pitch is for the late sainted Jeff Buckley-to-Jimmy Barnes territory: it’s the heartland, suburbia. Passionate without being threatening. As a small mark of distinction on the board her name is the only one with the singer’s name in CAPS.

“My Journey,” the album art: A brilliant choice of a “live” performance moment (note old-style film sprockets, non-existent in contemporary digital — harking back again), her eyes closed in ecstasy, journey’s end at the safehouse of song. It’s interesting too how, on both main board and album cover, Karise avoids eye contact. I’m guessing this is an unconscious choice on the part of the designers and marketing. It does seem to increase the mystique. Her name is in big handwriting — suggesting “raw,” “spontaneous,” “unmediated.” Her packaging ticks all the boxes.


Darren Percival: Nice guys finish runner-up

“Happy Home.” Our Darren, you may recall, is such a Nice Guy Good Bloke that he has resorted to legal action to maintain the image. (He had previously recorded a song “dripping with sexual innuendo”.) Anyway, good dude that he is, they have blanded him into a home-lifestyle mode, suit and open-neck shirt shiny shoes and leather couch and polished concrete floor. He could get up and take off the jacket and step out to kickstart the barbie, no probs. The only indicator of his vocal rapture (or even disappointed past) is in the red wall in the background. Happy home it is, and rather boring too. This cover sells him well short. Too nice.




Rachael Leahcar: The wan thing

Helen Razer‘s phrase, “Leahcar amped up the Little Match Girl look,” pretty much nails it. But Leahcar gets cred for the palindromic stagename, and her indelible introduction: “I don’t actually know if anyone turned around because I’m, I’m legally blind.” Her album, “Shooting Star” features a winsome portrait shot contre-jour, external light washing over her. So little girl winsome only fingers protrude from her sleeve. The title is in small script matched to the pink of her pants and her name is in thin white capitals. The effect — presumably intended — is practically weightless. Pale and lacklustre.




Sarah de Bono: strut walk, lying down

De Bono is the rocker, and her album is titled “No Shame.” It took until this album but now I see the generic graphic connection — the three runner-ups share the same small titling script in varying shades of coral pink. Karise has her own much punchier lettering. In the cover image De Bono manages the cool trick of seeming to strut while lying down. Her temptress locks are matched by the typography of the name, which is nice. The tight crop, red hair and sequin top and her strong eye contact create a certain energy. But the title could have been much bigger. Mainstream hottish, not bad, made an effort.


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2 thoughts on “The Voice: decoding the album art

  1. MF999

    “Decoding the album art” is the title of this article. It’s the point of this article. Decoding the album art. Not Eden’s singing ability. And – what do you know – the article decodes the album art, really well. Even old dames like me can understand that. A-mazing.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    OK that’s the album art. You forgot a few things among the snark though.

    Eden can sing the socks off most peope in this country which is why she has beaten the Beatles long held record of songs in the top 5 at one time and gone platinum in album sales in 2 days straight in at number one and why even old dames like me like to hear her sing.

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