If you’re a frenetic fan of all 15 bands on this list, then you probably won’t think that any of these albums are confusing. But for 99.99% of the population who aren’t super fans of every band on the planet (let alone the ones listed here), then you’ll see just how misleading they really are.
But how can an album be confusing? We’re glad you asked.
Unless you’re some innovative musical fiend, there are only so many kinds of albums you can create. You can go standard with a full-length album, a single or an extended play, the bastard child of the single and full release. There are also demos, greatest hits, cover albums, holiday specials and concept albums.
Those are pretty much the only types of albums you can create. For the most part, the albums on this list are misleading because they either greatly imply they’re a certain type of release but aren’t anything remotely like the thing they’re suggesting or they don’t suggest that they’re anything other than a regular full-length but aren’t even that. Other albums are confusing because they were plagued by controversy and altered because of it, unbeknownst to many. Some are commonly mixed up with another album, and then there are those that are just plain befuddling.
15 When Your Heart Stops Beating by (+44)
We’ve always felt that it’s extremely lazy if a band decides to name their album after the name of one of that album’s songs. As an artist, you’ve already come up with the title of about 10-or-so tracks. Heck, you wrote the lyrics to those songs. So why not just come up with one more title. Just one!?
That said, this lazy move can also be highly misleading especially when the album’s designation is identical to one of its highly successful singles.
This happens a lot. A lot. But few bands actually release physical discs of their singles, so there isn’t anything to really mix up.
One of the few bands that’s done this is (+44), a supergroup that consisted of lead singer/bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker from blink-182, as well as lead guitarist Shane Gallagher of The Nervous Return and rhythm guitarist Craig Fairbaugh of Mercy Killers.
The name of the album was When Your Heart Stops Beating, and its most successful single just so happened to be called—you guessed it—“When Your Heart Stops Beating,” which peaked at #14 on the U.S. Alternative Songs chart and #89 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
If you went to the store to buy the album, then it was probably a good idea to check the track listing. You definitely wanted the CD with 12 tracks, not the single with just variants of the eponymous track in addition to an acoustic version of 155, called 145, and an AOL session of “Baby Come On.”
14 The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) by Limp Bizkit
What’s so confusing about this EP is the fact that it’s an ostensible part of a whole, even though Limp Bizkit hasn’t released another part of their purported Unquestionable Truth series. There’s been plenty of time to do it, too. The (first) EP came out in 2005, and it’s been over a decade since Limp Bizkit has done anything in regards to writing any more music about truths that are unquestionable.
The title of the EP wasn’t originally misleading at first, however. Guitarist Wes Borland had just rejoined Limp Bizkit (after leaving), and, even after releasing the Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), his return seemed to have sparked new life in the band, so it was quite likely they’d start churning out new tunes.
But then they went on hiatus. Yes, Limp Bizkit did reunite and release Gold Cobra, but they’ve become notorious for over-hyping and promising new music since then (to such a degree that it’s comical) … and then failing to deliver on numerous occasions. Not only have they promised a Part 2 to The Unquestionable Truth since they got back together, but another full-length tentatively called Stampede of the Disco Elephants. But that’s a whole other story.
They should’ve just played it safe and called their EP The Unquestionable Truth.
13 Antennas to Hell by Slipknot
Even though Slipknot has enjoyed jabbing every manifestation of conformity over the years, especially the music industry (in the “5-5-5, 6-6-6”-chanting “Heretic Anthem,” the emo-bashing “Butcher’s Hook” and the aptly named “Killpop” about singer Corey Taylor’s relationship with music), the Nine have, ironically, conformed to the status quo every now and then. One of the few times they have is when they decided to call their live album 9.0: Live.
Antennas to Hell, however, deviates from 9.0: Live in regards to having an ambiguous nomenclature. Antennas to Hell is hella unique (and compelling enough) to be the title of a full-length release, but, unfortunately, they wasted that name for what is, apparently, a greatest hits album, even though the band would never admit that it was. This is especially the case with Clown who’s stated that it’s more of a tribute to what Slipknot and used to be at the time of the songs. Okay. Whatever.
12 Writer’s Block by Evergreen Terrace
We’re just going to start out by saying that Writer’s Block was a cover album. Knowing this actually makes the title pretty amusing for obvious reasons, so you’re welcome.
But without that information, you might’ve believed that, conceptually, the album revolved around the phenomenon of not being able to get thoughts down on paper. Maybe it could’ve been a collection of songs about nothing, due to the lyricist’s inability to think of something to write. Who knows.
The album cover doesn’t even suggest that it’s an album of covers, either. It looks like the band was attempting to emulate a grainy photograph. And the kid on the cover of this “photograph,” from the way his mouth is formed, seems to be in a defiant mood, the toughness of which is exemplified by what appears to be speckles of blood across the cover and a larger smudge near the bottom.
Again, none of this outright suggests that the album has anything to do with covers.
However, once you opened the packaging, you’d have found a note which said: “Yeah, we know this isn’t our new album. This is just a bunch of covers that we suckered Eulogy into putting out…”
11 Potatoes for Christmas by Papa Roach
No, this story isn’t related to the recent (and highly unexpected) phenomenon whereby Papa Roach was actually trending on Twitter due to a “joke” story about house speaker Paul Ryan.
Papa Roach released Potatoes for Christmas, an EP, way back in 1994 before they exploded into (and then receded away from) the mainstream.
Usually, when a band releases an album with any sort of nod towards a holiday, we’re led to believe that said release will include at least one Christmas-related song.
So even though the title Potatoes for Christmas was, and still is, pretty freakin’ random, the word “Christmas” suggests it might be a Christmas-themed release, but it couldn’t be anything farther than that.
But it makes sense that the band would do something random. When recollecting the release in a 2013 interview, singer Jacoby Shaddix described it as an embarrassment, saying they sounded like a hybrid of Mr. Bungle, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and metal.
10 Halford III: Winter Songs by Halford
Since we’re on the topic of Christmas, we thought we’d throw in this confusing little number, Halford III: Winter Songs. Winter signifies a great many things. One of them is Christmas. But Christmas, if you’re going to include that infectious song “The Twelve Days Of Christmas,” takes up only 12 days of the entire season. From the winter solstice to the vernal equinox, winter lasts for 89-90 days. With those numbers in mind, Christmas is only 13% of winter.
So, when Halford released Winter Songs, it was 87% more likely that it wasn’t about Christmas. Now, bump that percentage up a bit by realizing that the album came out in November, not December 25-January 5. Let’s say 90%. Now let’s bump it, even more, when you realize it’s Rob-freakin’-Halford. Bump it to 99%.
So it was 1% likely that Winter Songs was about Christmas. But Halford defied all the odds cuz Winter Songs is a wintery mix of traditional holiday favorites … as well as original Christmas-themed songs.
9 Half Hour of Power by Sum-41
If you’re going to name your album after a certain length of time, where it’s implied that the aforementioned time signifies the actual length of said album, then you sure as hell better ensure the music lasts as long as the LP’s numerated-oriented designation.
So when it comes to Half Hour of Power, the album should be composed of powerful music that lasts for 30 minutes.
If you look at the total length of the album, you’ll see that it’s 30 minutes. However, it’s not wholly accurate. The last song of the album, “Another Time Around,” is six minutes and 52 seconds long, which, when added to the length of the other songs, is exactly 30 minutes. However, if you listen to “Another Time Around,” you’ll notice that the song actually ends at three minutes and 22 seconds, meaning it’s silent for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
In other words, the album isn’t a half an hour of power. If anything, the album should be called 26 Minutes And 38 Seconds Of Power.
8 So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes by NOFX
It’s a tossup as to whether NOFX is known more for their ostentatious views about punk rock and the music industry, for their equally intense volubility about how bad the government is, for lead singer and bassist Fat Mike being a condescending colossal asshat … or for their humor.
Regardless, the band’s profuse love of hitting (or attempting to hit) people’s funny bones is the subject for our discussion. The name So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes is a play-on-words, taken directly from So Long, And Thanks for All The Fish, the fourth book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.
Why NOFX took Adams’ title and changed it so they’re purportedly thanking “us” for shoes instead of fish makes sense, though. Sometimes, NOFX finds themselves bombarded by footwear during live shows.
Even if you did get the reference, the title implied that it was their final album. Many fans and critics probably fell for it, too, because NOFX actually wrote this on their website about the album: “We tend to get hit with a lot of shoes when we play so we thought it was a good title. It's not our last album.”
7 Alive and Dead by Six Feet Under
Alive and Dead isn’t a concept album about the interminable dichotomy between life and death. It isn’t a regular album, either. Well, it kinda is. It’s also kind of a live album. It’s kind of a cover album, too.
What the heck is it? Well, for one thing, it’s Six Feet Under’s first EP. Alive and Dead is a compilation of live songs from their debut album, Haunted, and incorporates a cover of Judas Priest’s “Grinder” as well as two new, never-before-heard original studio tracks.
We guess that the title makes a little bit of sense. “Alive” is an obvious pun concerning concert performances, seeing as they’re live. But if that’s true, then what’s dead? Well, track two is entitled “Drowning.” That has to do with dying.
One thing’s for sure: there’s nothing on the album’s cover to suggest that it’s a live/cover/original hybrid album, besides the very weak aforementioned pun.
6 Picture of Perfect Youth by Feeder
The title of this album is both ironic as well as enigmatically ambiguous. In regards to why it’s confusingly unclear, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Feeder use the name Picture of Perfect Youth. It was originally the name of a track on their second release, Yesterday Went Too Soon. And Picture of Perfect Youth, while sort of a “continuation” of Yesterday Went Too Soon (it’s a B-sides compilation that includes B-sides from Yesterday Went Too Soon), it’s actually a “continuation” of multiple albums, not just exclusively from Yesterday Went Too Soon, because it features B-sides from various albums.
As for why the designation is ironic, the title suggests that this album is a picture of youthful perfection, and, in the unlikely event someone actually experienced perfect youth, that person would not have created B-sides. Everything would be A-quality in this perfect scenario. The title should be something like Picture of Youth.
Perfection can also signify something holistic, a complete package. And yet, this B-sides compilation only includes about half of Feeder’s B-side releases. So it’s imperfect, in that the compilation isn’t complete.
What’s going on?!
5 Let It Be by The Beatles
Many music enthusiasts are aware that Let It Be was the last album The Beatles released. However, most people don’t realize that it was written before Abbey Road, the LP with the iconic image of the Fab Four crossing a cross walk.
Because Abby Road was written last, many critics and fans believe that Abbey Road should be considered the final release and that Let It Be should be the Beatles’ penultimate, not their final album.
Anyway, Let It Be began as Get Back, a track from the album, and was meant to be released in tandem with a planned documentary of the Beatles preparing to return to live performing.
But then a lot of drama happened, and the Get Back project was soon pushed back, and later shelved, because the Beatles had just recorded Abbey Road and wanted to focus on that instead.
After more drama, the band soon revisited the Get Back project, now titled Let It Be. However, they soon dropped the documentary’s “making a return to public performing” angle but decided to film themselves playing a concert on top of the Apple building at the end of the movie.
Interestingly (and randomly) enough, some of the tracks on Let It Be are from that concert— “Dig a Pony,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “One After 909”— along with some dialogue from the performance as well.
So, Let It Be wasn’t just a pseudo final Beatles album. It was a piecemeal effort, some of it composed of live and studio tracks, making it some weird hybrid monster.
4 Buddha by blink-182
You might be surprised that this story is not about the fact that there was actually an album called Buddha by blink-182 (because most people are aware of it) but that there were two albums called Buddha by blink-182.
Actually, that isn’t completely true. The first Buddha came out when blink-182 was just blink, but we digress.
Most fans know about the Buddha album with the blue statue. But there’s also one with a black statue … and with a slightly different track listing … and with controversy. The dispute involved Pat Secor, a guy who was trying to jumpstart his own record label called Filter Records. In an effort to do so, Secor said he’d help blink with financing and producing their Buddha demo.
According to blink’s original drummer, Scott Rayner, Secor made an oral agreement with blink where he’d invest $1,000 in recording and manufacturing Buddha and, once the money was 'recoupled,' blink would have complete ownership.
Let’s just say things didn’t go well. After a while, blink believed that Secor was keeping the money from the tapes he sold. So they contacted their lawyer, Joe Escalante of The Vandals, who just so happened to own Kung Fu Records. Blink soon entered an agreement with Joe that, in exchange for legal fees, Kung Fu would have the right to re-release Buddha on CD.
That’s how the second Buddha was born.
3 Steal This Album! by System of a Down
When both the name of the band and the title of the album are ostensibly written with black permanent marker over a blank generic CD, you’d think it was a collection of really crappy B-sides.
But this can’t be any further from the truth.
The media (surprise, surprise) is partly to blame for this misinformation, marketing Steal This Album! as such. But the band was very adamant about it being an actual album, saying it was the same quality as their classic Toxicity. The only reason why the songs weren’t included was, according to vocalist Serj Tankian, “because they did not fit the overall continuity of the album.”
Heck, drummer John Dolmayan was quoted as saying that it was his favorite release in a May 2009 interview!
Just listen to it.
You get your fill of humor, what with the pizza-themed song “Chic ’N’ Stu”; Tankian making random incoherent noises in “#*&@ The System,” which also showcases politically charged lyrics; and immensely profound dynamic shifts where Tankian sings both softly and yells at the top of his lungs in “Mr. Jack.”
2 Greatest the Hits 2011–2011 by Maximum the Hormone
Anime is a blessing. It introduces the U.S. (and the world) to many amazing characters and plots. It also exposes us to bands we might never have heard of.
Thanks to the anime Death Note, America was introduced to Maximum the Hormone, a highly schizophrenically executed effort that embraces the simplified chaos and distortion of nu-metal with pop, jazz, and other genres, sometimes all within the same song, heck, the same verse.
The guys (and gal) in Maximum the Hormone are also sticklers for humor and enjoy excessive dabbling in puns and word-play as seen on the title of their triple A-side maxi single, Greatest the Hits 2011-2011.
The numbering aspect of the title, alone, was humorous, seeing as the beginning and ending year were identical. It was also amusing because the title implied that it was a collection of greatest hits from that year.
This is funny—and misleading—because all three tracks (“Utsukushiki Hitobito no Uta”/“Song of the depressed people, Maximum the Hormone, My Girl”) were completely new, and, therefore, weren’t hits. At least not when it was first released.
Maybe the members of Maximum the Hormone can see into the future. The triple single sold over 81,000 units in its debut week, peaking at number 1 for two consecutive weeks on the Oricon charts.
1 What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce by The Goo Goo Dolls
This album was strange on so many levels. At first glance, you might’ve thought this was a regular release, seeing as the name of the LP was unique (as well as overly long). But it was kind of a greatest hits effort. Kinda.
If you were just a casual Goo fan and found it at a music store in 2001, you might’ve thought this was an actual album of original songs because none of the title tracks looked familiar. But upon listening to it, you’d have believed the Goo ditched their highly polished sound from Dizzy Up The Girl for something much, much rawer.
If you were a mega Goo, then you’d have realized that one, these songs were old and, two, they weren’t even hits.
What in the living name of heck was this thing?!
It was, essentially, an over-glorified “mix tape” of deep cuts from 1987 to 2000. (As a side note, the numbers “1987-2000” can be found—if you look hard enough—at the bottom of the album. But without any sort of explanation, their presentation suggests the lifespan of the band and, in turn, their ostensible demise in 2000. But it’s meant to signify when these songs were written.)
Anyway, this album wasn’t a repository of big hits (there are, however, singles released prior to the Goo’s 1995 breakout into the mainstream). So, no, you wouldn’t have found Iris or Name.
Entertainment Weekly summed it up best when they said: “The set’s purpose is apparently to remind us that, pre-platinum, they were a pretty nifty little pop-punk band; mission accomplished.”
Sources: Entertainment Weekly; SteroKill; Billboard.