cover up!

album covers in the middle east

You might think that pop music from Madonna, Lady Gaga or Kylie Minogue is censored in Middle Eastern countries because of the lyrics... well, guess what, it’s mainly because of the “sexual” album covers, so forget about the explicit content warning.

The record companies are playing the role of the accomplice in this game, as they often decide themselves to change the album covers to avoid any kind of offense and get a chance to sell. Many labels now offer two cover options, particularly for their most popular performers. Most of all, the altered covers are found on music download sites such as iTunes. Sales come first, Art comes next.

For instance, the Saudi government is paying religious police members of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) to manually alter the covers. In the past police officers used to unwrap CD cases, in order to remove the front to carefully/painstakingly colour any photos that expose the female body with a black marker. It’s still difficult to understand the logic why they spend so much time to cover a breast, when they still allow Madonna singing “Like a Virgin” in a girl’s room.