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Cover Me: Vinyl Sleeves and the Pop Music Scene

Music is my thing. It's the chord progression moving me through this world, and connecting me to the people and places advancing in tandem. We all march to the beat of that proverbial drummer, and even when it is our own, that we dance at all is evidence of the fact that we are never alone. Music is how I stay connected in real life. #ConnectedIRL if you will.

Cover Me

Music is a fashion. it’s a style. Music is a lifestyle contouring the very essence of who you are. We wear each melody like a mannequin, these playlists become patterns, palettes where we dress ourselves up in the stitch of song.

It’s amazing, really, our ability to fluctuate between tempos, from the soul shack of a lounge, to the bombast technicolor confessional of a discotheque, onward still moving toward that futuristic EDM… baptized in blacklight, emerging prismatic, only to drop the needle and spin again.

This constant change, this shift is all very much of the season, very a la mode. We work these rhythms like a runway, and that’s the inspiration behind this piece. There’s something about an Amoeba vinyl clearance bin that speaks to me… #noshame. When money isn’t an object, the message is boundless. I want covers with aesthetics so pristine, so perfect, so encapsulating the everything of the scene that it is that I can effectually hear what the vinyl's got to offer beneath the sleeve.  

That, in a nutshell, that universally, is what music offers us. The album sleeve is as much a suit as any jacket or blouse we wear, and speaks volumes on our behalf to any and every peer and passer-by.

So when I went looking for this, this frequency I suppose, I saw “Boomerang." Three pillars. three columns. three women, profiled. Sitting behind a three veils of different hues, pastel tones, very much like an Easter rebirth, that Spring into step which all music provides - that Pop.

Pop is a taste. Pop is … bubblegum. Pop is Jolly Ranchers, it’s candy. It’s Pop Rocks. It’s playground currency, we exchange lyrics like lollipops across this recess life of extended adolescence.

It’s explosive, and it’s subtle at times, but it’s familiar to us all. It’s borderline addictive, and sometimes, after the breakdown, is the inevitable crash that comes with a touch too much of that glitter bombast. That’s life, that’s fuel, that’s the Pop way; that’s Britney making it through 2007, and you making it through this day.

That unforgettable. You’ll never forget where you were when you heard those most iconic songs, when you bought that first album with your own real money - before iTunes of course, what you thought when “You Oughta Know” kicked into the movie theatre line (cut, it, out).

It’s the panoramic escapade though - and that’s what “Boomerang" said to me - all of those fluctuating scenes.


This is what that cover offers, that veil we wear, we feel young again. That’s Pop’s intrigue - that ambitious projection.

Women in particular, when we’re profiled and given projection on this platform, we do share that collective shield. Still beyond that facade, there are those definitive features that individualize and make us unique. So too, there again we have the Pop parallel. Each song, apparently formulaic, all supposed to be sent to the masses - but the soul something at the song's core connects the artist and audience as individuals.

We have these varied hues and these myriad ideas, like seams in the tapestry of a perfectly tailored suit, and when brought together, these soundscapes define so much of who we are as a whole. It becomes so inherently real in its evolution. So we go onward to the second layer: the Soul Shack, the Madonna, and the Star Girls - The Original Burlesque Show where music undresses as much as it addresses.


All of this remains to say: you wear this music and this fashion brings us together. This style defines us in constant motion, and so here we have three different facades, three different faces, three different layers; and on the back, at the spine, is The New Yorker, this new Yo. It’s a remix, a remade classic like any contemporary tune that holds fast to the standard. This backbone is the idea that this Pop music will never be low brow - much like fashion. It’s pushed off as superficial, it's brushed aside as unsubstantial style, but it carries as much meaning as we make of it.

So because we cosmic dancers believe so much in the sound - believe so much in the story of the siren and the muse behind these sonic walls - because we give it purpose, therefore it projects. Vinyl covers remixed and remastered, paralleling the song. Recontextualized stories and narratives reflecting and at the same time redefining the source: the unplugged soul session, the Pop standard, the club remix… boho chic, 80s club kid, futurist runway… all projected elements of the collection of personas housed within us all. It could be subtle, it could be stark, but it all works together and blends on this shared palette.
Music reminds us that we’re all black when the lights go out, we’re all lights when the disco ball spins around… and it’s on that shared dance floor confessional where the core connection of music is found. The many facets of stardom: the soulful, the spectacular, the supernatural come together in this rhythmic synchronicity like the coffee shop, like the tea house, to form this musical community.

Kari Elam
Kari Elam


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