Choosing the best album covers from a single year’s worth of releases is a difficult enough task, but it’s nothing compared to creating an album cover that stands out. Artists and the creatives they hire need to find a meaningful balance between art and commerce; not only do they have to create an instantly-recognizable image that can grab the attention of consumers and be repurposed across a whole spectrum of marketing materials, but they also need to represent the artist’s musical point of view on a very high level. The best album art of 2015 includes images both straightforward and abstract, intricate and simple, some with real-life counterparts, like Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo, and some with video components, like Björk’s Vulnicura. Most of the artists whose covers made our top 15 were central to the concepts employed and the creation of the visuals that anchor their music.

Get to know The Best Album Covers of 2015 and their stories below.