October 29, 2013 by NowhereButPop
10) Uncle Jam Wants You/Funkadelic/1979
Released as a pseudo-satirical/quasi-militaristic concept album, Uncle Jam Wants You is a pun on the recruitment slogan “Uncle Sam Wants You” that perfectly summarizes the fun and upbeat nature mixed in with the martial themes of late 70s Funkadelic albums. It also raises the question of what exactly Uncle Jam wants us for. Does he want us to go to war, or does he want us to party?
9) Loose/Nelly Furtado/2006
One of the biggest components of determining the coolest album titles is how directly the title relates to the album itself. How descriptive of a title is it? Loose is the perfect title for Furtado’s third album because it was loose. The entire album had a very relaxed feel to it because of Furtado loosening herself up to delve into pop and dance music, something she hadn’t done up until that point. From that looseness came a sexiness to her that no one had really seen before. It summed up how she was feeling, the music on the album, and how we would feel after listening to the album…just loose. At that point in time in her career, there was no other title more appropriate for that album that Loose.
8) Back in Black/AC/DC/1980
A tribute to their fallen lead singer, Back in Black is the epitome of cool because it conveys two themes that are ever present in rock music: comebacks and death. The “black” portion of the title is a reference to the death of lead singer Bon Scott who died a few months before the album was recorded and anytime “black” is in an album title, it’s already a cooler sounding album for it (see Metallica and Jay-Z for further examples). The “back” part of the title is an affirmation that the band would not end with Scott, and that they would return from death as a band. Back in Black is more of a promise to fans that even in mourning, AC/DC could not and would not be stopped. It looks like they upheld their promise.
7) Fear of a Black Planet/Public Enemy/1990
1990’s Fear of a Black Planet didn’t personify Public Enemy more than it serves as an exclamation to how the band saw themselves. To the band, they, and this album in particular served to introduce white America to an innate fear of black affirmation. From their perspective, there was nothing scarier to white America than black power, or more grandiose, an entire planet run by blacks. Besides being PE’s greatest album, it has the coolest title to it because it sums up the album itself as well as the band in a simple and catchy phrase. The title is a declaration, but also a (racially charged) challenge that is confident in itself and its agenda. After all there’s nothing cooler than confidence.
6) Blood Sugar Sex Magik/Red Hot Chili Peppers/1991
Blood, sugar, sex, and magic were the ingredients that made this masterpiece back in 1991 and as such, there could have been no better title to the album. Each of these four words are ¼ of what makes this album a masterpiece. You have blood (fiery, rage, harsh) in songs like “Power of Equality” and “The Righteous and the Wicked”, sugar (energy, zest, mania) in songs like “Give It Away” and “Suck My Kiss”, sex (self-explanatory) in songs like “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”, and “Sir Psycho Sexy”, and finally, magic (the inexplicable, intangible) “Under the Bridge” and “Funky Monks”. The title is more of a recipe for how the album was made, and from the simplicity of these four dissociated words comes a title that is equal parts funky, fun, sexy, and charismatic-everything a title should be.
5) Thriller/Michael Jackson/1982
What other name could describe the highest selling album of all time? What other title would befit what is arguably the greatest, and most perfectly constructed album of all time? At that point in time, Michael Jackson could do nothing but thrill us. It makes sense then his greatest album, would be the most thrilling. Most of the time the brilliance of a title comes from either its simplicity or how descriptive it is of the album as a whole, Thriller satisfies both conditions. With a name like Thriller, expectations are set rather highly that this album will satisfy anyone and everyone regardless of musical predilection-and it smashes right through those expectations. No one else could pull off an album entitled Thriller, and it’s no surprise that the king of pop took the title, the promise of a thriller, and delivered in a way that will never be replicated since.
By this point you pretty much know what I look for in an album title: it has to excite, create insight, describe, and annunciate. As is most often the case less tends to be more when naming an album. Perhaps more than any other album save for #2, CrazySexyCool represents what the album and band were. Very similarly to Blood Sugar Sex Magik, CrazySexyCool are the components of the album; it’s what went into the genesis of TLC’s magnum opus. The fact that it’s one word also just blows my mind, as if it’s something to say really fast, as many times as you can. The title is one word, not separated by spacing or punctuation, unifying the band members, Left-Eye (Crazy), Chili (Sexy), and T-Boz (Cool), as one cohesive unit. Like the Chili Pepper’s album, CrazySexyCool is equal parts crazy, sexy, and cool. The title is not only reflective of what the listener will get from the album, but also an admittance of what went into the album.
3) Use Your Illusion/Guns N’ Roses/1991
Had I come up with this list 5 years ago, when my musical palate was extremely narrow and unrefined, Use Your Illusion would have been #1. Such is not the case now. What I got from the title as a 16 year old is something that I still get from it now, as a 22 year old. It’s an insightful title that is thought provoking and mesmerizing. What the hell does it exactly mean and why did the band choose to name their double album this? I’d suspect it has to do with false bliss and succumbing to a superficial and fictitious surrounding. But as Trinity said to Neo “It’s the question”, and the enigmatic meaning of title is something that has captivated and perplexed me for years. The title is more of a recommendation than it is a demand which contrasts the very absolute nature of GNR lyrics. The dichotomy of a hard rock band having an insightful and non-descript title speaks to a more introspective ideal that was absent from the music scene of the time.
2) Some Girls/The Rolling Stones/1978
Some Girls is an album about, well…some girls. That’s why this album title is the perfect fit for the album. What makes it cool is that it’s a title we had come to expect from the band at some point, but didn’t get until the band was 15 years old. It also raises the question “What about some girls?”. What are they saying about some girls? It’s an incredibly vague and ambiguous title that in its emptiness becomes all encompassing and totally enveloping. The title “some girls” represents the Rolling Stones sticking to and doing what they do best, and that’s write songs about some girls. The cool factor comes from the confidence to a) put out an album with an amusingly simple album and b) the confidence to record a kick ass album and then call it Some Girls. The fact that we don’t even need an answer to the question of “Well, what about some girls?” is more than a testament to how much of a cool title it is.
1) Darkness on the Edge of Town/Bruce Springsteen/1978
Ever since I was a 5 year old kid who was forced to listen to this album every Saturday while my mom did the laundry, I was just gripped by the title Darkness on the Edge of Town. From that young age, I could tell that there was this dread and odiousness to the album that although it wasn’t overt, it was still alarming and disarming at the same time. As I grew up and listened to the album, I finally understood the album itself, and how perfect a reflection the title itself was of the album. The album was dark and foreboding, but it was in a sublime and weary way, as opposed to an overt and frightful way. It from this stoic dread that the title becomes immediately cool. It’s cool because it’s profound and universal at the same time. It’s self explanatory, but also deep; it’s tired, but mobile; it’s sad without being depressing. Darkness on the Edge of Town is a title that speaks volumes to anyone over the age of 5, because it’s enchanting in the most melancholy way possible without being overbearing or repetitive. It clicks because it sums up not only everything on the album, or what went into it, but because it’s a title that is so simple in meaning, but complex in understanding. It’s mysterious without being exclusive; in a word, it’s just cool.