Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' Help! reaching no. 1 on the Billboard 200. There's plenty of great things that we could say about this album, from the title single and the incredible "Yesterday," to Rolling Stone ranking it the no. 331 record of all time. There's one thing we just can't get over however: the cover. It shows the band, dressed in what looks like ponchos, taking part in a bizarre cheerleading competition. The reality is more clever: The group was supposed to spell out the word "help" in naval flag semaphore. But then "help" didn't look that interesting so they just spelled out "nujv" instead.
So, ultimately, the reason for wearing the ridiculous outfits ended up being moot because they didn't spell jack. It wouldn't be the last music group to adopt a ridiculous uniform for an album cover however. Music Times has picked out the records that display the worst uniform fashion sense from other big acts, ranging from KISS to The Rolling Stones.
Goin' Back To Indiana by The Jackson 5 (1971)
The brothers of the Jackson 5 deserve some reprieve before we launch into tearing this album cover apart. The group, thanks in part we're sure to the strong-handed management of their father Joe and Motown impresario Berry Gordy, struck the perfect balance of mix-and-match among pop groups. On one hand, the Jackson brothers all looked alike: They wore similar clothes, and their matching afros were awesome. On the other hand, they rarely performed with a uniform color scheme, thus making things look more natural. Motown decided to throw that whole idea out the window when it marketed Goin' Back to Indiana, the first live album from the group. Instead Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael and Tito were all wearing what-at first look-appears to be matching Superman outfits, but in fact are odd Western-themed costumes. Michael's bell-bottoms seem to have a cactus design, while Jackie has fringe so long it looks like a cape when he stretched his arms, feeding the Superman comparisons. Unfortunately, the live nature of the album suggests that the brothers not only had to deal with this for an album cover, but a whole concert and perhaps even a tour.
Children of The World by The Bee Gees (1976)
Despite being about the Bee Gees, the fashion faux pas presented here has nothing to do with the stereotypical trends of the disco era. Children of The World features the trio of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb dressed in leather jackets. And that's not what our complaint is about either. Although leather can certainly be used in questionable costumes, the jackets worn by the brothers Gibb are rather fashionable. So what's the issue? The scarves. We don't have a problem with dudes wearing scarves...there's no shame in that. But if you're going to appear in a group photo, could you at least wear scarves of different colors? Three guys wearing white scarves and leather jackets sounds more like a cult than a band. And although Barry and Maurice are buttoned-up, would it be too much to ask Robin to wear a shirt under his jacket? If it's cold enough to wear a scarf, you should probably wear a shirt. Then again, his chest hair could probably keep him warm.
Lick It Up by KISS (1983)
Members of the KISS army were probably ready to fight when we mentioned their beloved band in the introduction to this list. HOW DARE MUSIC TIMES QUESTION THE ICONIC FACE PAINT OF KISS?!? Relax...we're actually questioning the exact opposite. Lick It Up didn't feature any real uniform in the sense of clothing, but it did mark the time when the band made the uniform decision to stop appearing in their iconic makeup. If the album art didn't say "KISS," it could be understood if fans didn't recognize their heroes. We can tell which one is Gene Simmons, based on his trademark tongue, and Paul Stanley is making a recognizable facial expression. Of course, the other two members at this point were Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr—versus Ace Frehley and Peter Criss—so we couldn't even remember their names, much less faces.
Dirty Work by The Rolling Stones (1986)
When the Rolling Stones say "dirty work," it could mean anything, considering the band's notorious lifestyle during the '70s. Apparently the phrase refers to the group's monitoring of the cocaine trade in southern Florida during the '80s, because the band honestly looks like cast members of Miami Vice on the cover of its 1986 album. Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood all opted for the same shade of pink for their jackets, although only Wood chose to pair it with pink pants as well (Wyman can only be seen waist-up). Jagger went all over, wearing an orange shirt with the bright jacket, and yellow pants to boot. Charlie Watts, long considered the most sensible member of the band, simply worse a blue, long-sleeve shirt. He, noticeably, avoids making eye contact with the camera in the image, perhaps out of embarrassment.
EVERYTHING by Menudo
"Everything" is a slight exaggeration when describing the album art of Latin pop superstars Menudo, but just slightly. Things were okay until 1981's Fuego, where the group appeared wearing silver, metallic body suits. Quiero Ser featured sleeveless leather, Por Amor featured poofy windbreakers (and animated rain, no less), and Reaching Out featured sleeveless T-shirts with the same striped pattern (and sweatbands). Things didn't necessarily get better after that, but at least the group started wearing a variety of unsightly fashions, mixing things up. Seriously, looking at the slideshow of Menudo album art makes me happy that I live in the Bronx now, not the '80s.
Gee by Girls Generation (2009)
K-Pop has to deal with some negative stereotypes, partially as a result of the way that the biggest labels have packaged their acts. In truth, K-Pop fans choose favorite members and form "teams" just like how your sister (but definitely not you) has her favorite member of One Direction. Unfortunately, the tendency for boy and girl groups in Korea (along with a healthy dose of Western racism) lead many on our shores to perceive such acts as the closest thing to human cloning that science has achieved thus far. One thing that K-pop labels could do to help break those stereotypes: Stop having them dress the same way! Fortunately, S.M. Entertainment broke its "uniform" approach to Girls Generation after the group's first EP, Gee. The cover featured all nine members wearing the exact same assemblage of jeans, T-shirt and, uh, roller skates. Nine people wearing the same thing in the same color is creepy, not creative.