There are plenty of bands out there that arrive with their legacy already in mind. They drape their debut album with their monumental logo and wait for the cult to arrive. Sometimes this works. (The xx currently own one of the most commanding stage setups in music thanks to their all-time great insignia.) But tastes change, as do conceptions of reality, and sometimes the logo that you used to ride with just doesn’t make sense anymore. Those old images are left by the wayside as you attempt to redefine who you are as an artist. That’s just part of growing up.
We have a certain appreciation for those old logos, images that lived for only a couple albums. We’ve collected a few to reminisce on a time where the famous people below thought they knew how their careers would play out.
The Kanye Bear
An all-time classic, and probably something we’re never going to see again. Kanye’s cartoon bear graced the covers of The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation before disappearing in the personal and musical upheaval of 808s and Heartbreak. These days, the character is a representation of an era when Kanye was trying to be the best rapper he could be in all the expected ways. We do love that the last time we saw the bear he was blasting off into space. Maybe Kanye knew all along.
Blitzen Trapper’s Metal Logo
This thing looks awesome, and it was used for exactly one album, 2008’s Furr. We’re suckers for interlocking letters adorning drumheads, and it’s exceedingly rare that some road-trip folk band perfects an art mostly reserved for dingy black metal lifers. Maybe if Trapper brought this back, people would start talking about their records again.
The Strokes’ Old Typography
Ballsy, undeservedly confident, and chock full of generational nostalgia, that was The Strokes in 2001, and it couldn’t have been better represented in their logo. These days, Strokes albums are unpredictable in design philosophy, but the old logo still shows up from time to time, and it always makes you nostalgic for when Julian Casablancas could be satisfied with an albino ass and black glove.
Franz Ferdinand’s Original Typography
Man, that looked cool. If only the band had been able to hold our attention, this logo could’ve achieved icon status. Now it just reminds you of The O.C. — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Radiohead Bear
The Radiohead bear showed up around the time of Kid A, and managed to condense an eternity’s worth of anxiety into a single, eternally smiling pictograph. In their later years, Radiohead put aside the foreboding techo-babble of the early 2000s and moved toward a more holistic take on rock ‘n’ roll songwriting, making the bear obsolete. But it remains perhaps their most striking icon.
The Hieroglyphics Alien
This one doesn’t totally count because the long-dormant Hieroglyphics crew have been showing signs of life, but it’s also no secret that nobody has been talking about a guy like Del Thee Funky Homosapien in the context of his earliest associations. It’s a shame really, that three-eyed alien is one of the best-executed logos in the history of music. Simple, sleek, and entirely memorable, there’s a universe out there where the Hieroglyphics’ insignia is just as ubiquitous as the Wu-Tang “W.”
Blur’s Compressed Letters
With a san-serif font and some tight kerning, Blur’s mid-’90s logo looks like it was designed in Photoshop. These days, it’s being used as a e-cig logo.