Rarely are bands' press photos shot on a stage, at a bar, in front of a microphone, or at a stuffy wedding reception. Though these places would seem the most logical place to plaster on a smile -- given that, you know, that's where musicians play -- the most overdone pictures provide some kind of half-baked, whimsical narrative about how playful and carefree the happy trios and quartets are together. Or, if they're standing with crossed arms in front of a brick wall or so very alone in a desert, how deeply serious they are.
Take, for instance, the two photographed bands above riding a carousel. What exactly should we take away from this? That their music is like riding at a snail's pace atop a stationary elephant? That sound checks and jam sessions often give way to a prevailing sense of childhood wonder, inevitably leading to spontaneous trips to the county fair?
We've singled out some of the most trite group shots ever to investigate what the images are trying to convey, and to offer suggestions on how to amplify their desired message. Some bands (ahem, Arctic Monkeys, U2, and Rilo Kiley) were repeat offenders, but we tried to use each band only once.1. The farm
What they're saying:
The acoustics here suck, but we can't get enough of this hay pricking our skinny jeans.More daring:
A runoff lagoon2. The playgroundWhat they're saying:
We don't mind if our core demographic comprises
toddlers, barely adolescents and their MILFs.
What they're saying:
More kid-friendly: A ball pit
3. The bathroom
We sleep together, but our photographer thought that would be going too far.More wet and wild, less creepy:
A water slide4. Heads together now What they're saying:
magical when we put our heads together -- literally and musically.
stimulating: Eh...you know what? Not gonna go there.What they're saying:
5. The beach
This can go one of two ways:Gloomy day -
Let us show you how profound we are as we mull over why we're at a deserted beach in horrible weather. Sunny day -
We like to soak up the rays -- and the sounds of every other band that's ever posed here.More nautical:
On a boat, with a pashmina afghan