Marking Polaroid’s Triumphant Return with Iconic Album Cover Art

Ann Kirsten Kennis on an album cover

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Nine years after Polaroid announced the end of its instant film production, they’re officially back for another take on the industry. The pioneer of the instant photography, now called Polaroid Originals, unveiled its new OneStep 2 camera this week. To commemorate the iconic status of Polaroid, here are some equally iconic music albums that made use of the instant film.

 

“John Wesley Harding” – Bob Dylan (1967)

 

John Wesley Harding

 

At the time, musicians began doing this thing where they would sneak in other musicians on their album covers. For example, The Beatles included a doll wearing a Welcome the Rolling Stones jumper on their “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover. To return the favor, the Stones placed The Beatles on “Their Satanic Majesties Request” album. Bob Dylan fans somehow found all four faces of The Beatles on the cover album’s knobbly tree bark, but only if you hold the album upside down. This came as a surprise to “John Wesley Harding” cover album photographer John Berg, who said “…if you wanted to see it, you could see it.”

 

“Horses” – Patti Smith (1975)

 

Horses album cover by Patti Smith

 

New York punk poet laureate Patti Smith gave birth to something new with her debut album “Horses,” but we can’t deny the esteemed album cover. Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and Smith created an unlikely friendship in 1967 after she mistakenly stumbled into Mapplethorpe’s apartment. Using a Polaroid and the apartment’s natural light, the pair created one of rock’s classic images.

 

“Melt” – Peter Gabriel (1980)

 

Melt cover art by Peter Gabriel

 

From Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” to Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” the late Aubrey “Po” Powell did it all. For Peter Gabriel’s “Melt” album, he manipulated the chemicals from his Polaroid shot with just a pencil. Gabriel loved the idea of disfiguring his face as an album cover so after using 10 Polaroid cameras and messing around with countless photos, he finally picked this one.

 

“Contra” – Vampire Weekend (2010)

 

Contra album cover by Vampire Weekend

 

The indie band’s sophomore album “Contra” topped the Billboard 200, a multitude of album-of-the-year lists, and a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. Ex-member Rostam Batmanglij discovered the discarded Polaroid of the blonde, Ann Kirsten Kennis, and they initially bought the rights to the photo from the supposed photographer Tod Brody. However a month after Contra’s released, Kennis filed a lawsuit against the band. They were thankfully able to settle the issue after receiving an undisclosed settlement from the band.

 

“good kid, m.A.A.d City” – Kendrick Lamar (2012)

 

 good kid MAAD city album cover by Kendrick Lamar

 

For both the regular and deluxe edition covers, he uses Polaroids of baby K-Dot with some family members and an old van that allegedly belonged to his mother respectively. Kendrick’s lyrical ability and narratives on the album received widespread praise and bagged him four Grammy Award nominations, including the prestigious Album of the Year. Check out the regular album cover and spot his uncle sporting the Crypt sign.

 

We can’t wait to get our hands on the new OneStep 2! Keep your eyes peeled for Polaroid films on U DO U—we promise it’s coming.

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