For every Banksy, there's a cartoon penis crudely dawbed on a wall. Let Stuart Fowkes take you on a tour of 15 of this year's ropiest efforts and award one the title of 2013's most hopeless album cover.

"Sorry guys, you've spent so much on that big-name producer that we couldn't afford a decent designer for the album cover, so we've got the PR intern to knock something up in Photoshop. Except the licence has expired on our copy of Photoshop, so we've used MS Paint. Don't worry, no one looks at album covers any more, anyway."

If you'd prefer to look on the bright side of life, we recommend checking out our Best Artwork/Packaging of 2013 article. This article is dedicated to the memory of Storm Thorgerson, who died earlier this year (his work was far from being terrible).



15. Yuck - Glow & Behold

Yuck are carving a reputation for themselves as producers of uniquely-dodgy cover images (check out their last record, aiming at a Matisse sketch but coming out nearer a post-meal napkin scrawl they decided to use in a moment of weakness. It's not even a particularly arresting image or interesting shape, but rather an amorphous blob that doesn't do them or their music any favours.



14. Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe

One of this year's defining artwork trends for the discerning band was the 'half-arsed photo cover', in which a shoot-from-the-hip style offers an excuse to use any old badly-composed, shoddily-lit photo will do as a record cover, 'cos it's just more real, innit. Looks like someone phoned Dev Hynes and told him his artwork was due in two hours, so he dug through his iPhone gallery and found this shoddy gem from one of his hotel overnights. Five minutes in Photoshop to whack on a title and there's your carefully-considered album cover.



13. Gogol Bordello - Pura Vida Conspiracy

"Yeah, and we'll have me on the cover, only I'll have, like, an hourglass on my head, only the hourglass will be exploding because a bullet is going through it, and there'll be glass everywhere, and the whole thing will be so badly drawn that people will definitely buy it on vinyl and frame it and put it on their walls and show all their friends."



12. Eric Copeland - Joke In The Hole

What an absolute mess. Abortive collage of stripes, legs and dubious attitudes towards women, with a clipart hand thrown in at random for good measure. Extremely badly designed, mildly distasteful, and the collaged images in the bottom right look a bit like a cock if you squint.



11. Tyga - Hotel California

"I WANT A TIGER IN A HOTEL FOR MY EAGLES PASTICHE," went Tyga's demands. Not only is the tiger badly-Photoshopped into the image, but it seems that Tyga was too. I have my suspicions he was too busy shopping for outsized furry hats and massive gold jewellery to turn up for the shoot.



10. The Killers - Direct Hits

Does anyone smell a cash-in? When a band this big spends this little time on the artwork for their new album, they might as well go down the controversial route and call it 'LAZY BAND MILKS IDIOT FANS FOR CHRISTMAS'. After all, there's no such thing as bad PR.



9. Audacity - Butter Knife

Possibly one of those sleeves that seemed deep and meaningful when they came up with the idea after a few drinks ("if you think about it, inside all of us is a burning flame, but that flame is always at risk of being extinguished by the waves of despair, man"), but seems altogether less so once they've hired a cack-handed art college graduate to paint it in their lunch break. A bad concept, horribly rendered.



8. Cx Kidtronik - Krak Attack 2: Ballad of Elli Skiff

You can usually rely on a bad hip hop album to deliver the goods when it comes to a stinkingly bad record cover, and I'm delighted to report that Krak Attack 2 follows on from part 1's frankly amazing cover. Seen from a distance, it's like a magic eye picture where the answer is 'arses', and up close it rewards the viewer with a first-hand view of a teenager's bedroom. Horrendous in concept and execution, at least it's better than the first instalment. Maybe by Krak Attack 10 he won't be in our worst artwork of the year list.



7. Diarrhea Planet - I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

With a band name like this, you'd expect the album cover to be shit, but they're really outdone themselves here. I concede that they're probably going for the wilfully lo-fi, DIY look, but this looks it was constructed from a Tarantino clipart collection and typeset by a monkey. And that full stop at the end of the album title makes me want to punch my screen every time I see it.



6. Cut Copy - Free Your Mind

Free your mind, presumably, from any need to think of a decent idea for an album cover. I'm no designer, but even I could have knocked this together in five minutes using MS Paint. I hope no one got paid for doing this.



5. Erasure - Snow Globe

Writing nasty things about this cover feels a bit like bullying Cliff Richard or something, but WOAH, what a misjudged Christmas cash-in this one is, aiming for 80s kitsch but ending up as market tat. The trouble here isn't even the concept - which isn't that bad for a Christmas record - but it's so cheap it looks like the album equivalent of those crappy versions of perfume called George Armany or Chamele No. 5. I think the typeface and snowflakes actually came out of Microsoft Word. And this is a big-name release. Very poor.



4. Will.I.Am - #Willpower

Full disclosure: if I could remove the music of one band from the world for all eternity, it would be the Black Eyed Peas for eighteen years of their autotuned, bandwagon-jumping cartloads of steaming piss. Having said that, this is still a dreadful attempt at artwork by megalomaniac-in-chief will.i.am, airbrushing and trimming his own portrait down the same way his polishes the edges off his songs until they glisten with grim inauthenticity.

AND his album title is a beaming red telegraphed hashtag, the most cynical and depressing of social media 'me-too' I've ever seen. The great thing is, though, that if I use his hashtag enough in this review, his social media team will pick it up and he might find out how much I hate his music. Like he'll care. #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #willpower #shit



3. Lofty - Intimacy 3

The end-of-level screen from a grisly misogynistic Megadrive game from the mid-90s. Looks like it was drawn up by a horny 14-year-old in his first graphic design class, and the worst thing is that Intimacy 3 is actually a better cover than Intimacy 2 or the first instalment.



2. Salvia Plath - The Bardo Story

I honestly don't even know where to start with this. Just look at it, and the image will burn itself into your mind so you can never unsee it. It's like the 'Two Girls One Cup' of album covers.



1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This little beauty had written its name at the top of the worst artwork list as soon as the first incredulous reaction article appeared in April. It's truly extraordinary, managing to tick the boxes of revolting, garish, badly-executed and hideously dated in one fell swoop. It doesn't even have the good grace to be controversial - the only controversy was over how something so bad could have made it onto the cover of such a high-profile record. Even when explaining himself, designer Beomsik Shimbe Shim sounds like he's trying to convince himself he didn't just do it when he was drunk for a joke: "Since Karen wanted the mosquito to be a sexy and beautifully gross female, I considered the mosquito as Karen O herself, the female warrior-like rock star. The boy could be anything out of your fears and nightmares." He urged us all to wait before we "judge if this direction was bad or somehow strangely good." It's obviously bad. Award-winningly bad.