It’s that time of the year, when all the papers and magazines are filled with endless lists of the highlights of the past 12 months. Which got me thinking about what I’d choose. And the first thing that came to mind were these – the sleeves for Roisin Murphy’s Overpowered album and single. Any idea that can be described as ‘Ziggy Stardust in Wimpy Burger’ gets my vote…
Art director Scott King says that his “intention [was] to create an image of Roisin as a ’24 hour a day’ pop star …she would always be in character, regardless of the banality of the situation”. So he and photographer Jonathan de Villiers dressed her up in a series of extravagant outfits by the likes of Gareth Pugh (for the album, above) and Viktor & Rolf (for the single, below) and set about plonking her down in the most banal places they could find.
In his Ziggy phase, Bowie literally seemed like he’d been beamed in from another planet – this incredibly beautiful, glittering apparition, rendered all the more dramatic when cast against the suffocating drabness of 70s Britain. Murphy makes similar waves, with a healthy sense of her own ridiculousness thrown in. But this is what great pop music, and great pop stars have always been about. Setting themselves against the mundanity of their surroundings, bringing some much-needed glamour into the world, and not taking themselves too seriously along the way. Think of ABC and The Human League in Sheffield, or even Boy George in Deptford. It’s why a lot of the best music comes out of periods of economic depression and places of grim greyness.
So that’s my favourite – what about you?