Album art and packaging are a crucial part of any music release. Often, the visual experience of album covers, booklets, photo shoots, and even tour merchandise unite with the sonic product to make a release memorable and iconic. 

Sometimes musicians themselves spearhead their own art direction. At other times, they rely on a label's creative department and creative directors to conceive visuals that will market their music the best. Situations differ, but one fact remains the same—the visual and artistic strength of an album will always have the power to make a big difference in its reception.

That point is best proved with the nominees for the 55th annual GRAMMY Awards' nominations for the category of Best Recording Packaging. As you'll notice, the five albums and designers that made the cut aren't necessarily world-famous or the most popular records that came out this year; in truth, they're the most intriguing and unexpected examples of art direction in music over the past year.

While many others could have made the cut, we're excited for the alternative acts whose artwork and designers are nominated—Björk, Alabama Shakes, Aimee Mann, David Byrne & St. Vincent, and the Dirty Projectors.

Tune in to the GRAMMY awards this Sunday, February 10 at 8/7c to see who wins Best Recording Packaging (and all the other categories, of course).

Who Are the Five GRAMMY Award Nominees for Best Album Art?

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