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Speaking of Donwood and radiohead. . .

May 20, 2008

So I was walking down Chicago Avenue yesterday and I walked past a bookstore and noticed that the Christian band Third Day has a new album out:

Which reminded me of an older, better, much more relevant artwork on the cover of an older, better, much more relevant band:

Hmmmm “thou shalt not steal” anyone? It would seem that Stanley Donwood’s art, has been effectively kitsch-ified by crappy pop rockers Third Day.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2008 9:05 am


    If you read the liner notes, it turns out that Third Day’s cover is actually inspired by Salvation Mountain.

    Not that this makes it any better. As I’m sure you agree, the worst thing in the world is for one artist to be influenced by another.

    OK, with less sarcasm… Do you really think the level of similarity between Third Day’s cover and Radiohead’s cover is enough to call it “stealing”, as opposed to the kind of influence that is normal in art? If so, what makes the difference?

  2. thebram31 permalink*
    August 12, 2008 11:56 am

    Oh I am well aware that they were supposedly “influenced” by this Salvation Mountain location, and I was aware of that when I wrote my four sentences on the similarity of the covers. Of course I have not read the liner notes, nor do I actually own the CD. I don’t like Third Day and only saw the cover art from inside a bookstore. I did however find out a lot of information about the cover and Salvation Mountain before I wrote my four sentences on them. I also didn’t call them thieves or say they “stole” from anyone. I merely said it “reminded me” of the Radiohead cover. I then went on to make several value judgments, it’s true.

    I think that it’s odd that everyone agrees there’s an undeniable Donwood influence, but then negates that influence by pointing out that they were responding to this Salvation Mountain. Well that Mountain maybe the subject but the style is all Donwood, almost everyone agrees with that. Maybe as a Christian band they feel they can’t acknowledge their secular influences. Either way it’s odd to emphasize this particular location, then execute a graphic in someone else’s style and not say a word about it. But then again Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” is massively popular and the ‘T’ cd’s are stocked right next to the ‘R’ cd’s, so it doesn’t hurt to visually rhyme your album with a band that is arguably the best band of the twenty-first century.

  3. August 12, 2008 1:03 pm

    First thought: Eh? “Hmmmm “thou shalt not steal” anyone?” (I assume you forgot because you wrote this article months ago, and you missed it when you scanned the page to reply.)

    Second thought: You said, “everyone agrees there’s an undeniable Donwood influence”. Actually, after seeing Salvation Mountain–I hadn’t, when I wrote my comment at centuri0n’s blog–it’s no longer apparent to me to what extent the Revelation cover was influenced by Donwood’s. I don’t see any elements in Revelation that aren’t present in Salvation Mountain–the boxes of words, the hill shape, the cross, even the rows of trees. The only thing that’s more similar to the Radiohead cover is that there are more boxes of words than on Salvation Mountain. At a glance, the style does appear somewhere in between, but not enough for me to be sure they were influenced by anything other than the Mountain.

    I wouldn’t be surprised either way. If Third Day was being consciously influenced by Radiohead, maybe it would have been good to give a nod. (I’m honestly not familiar enough with cultural conventions in the art world to judge. How often or in what circumstances do you explicitly acknowledge influence?) But I think it could easily be the case that they weren’t being influence by Radiohead.

  4. August 12, 2008 1:23 pm

    BTW, I’m still wondering–assuming that Revelation was influenced solely by Radiohead, do you think that there’s anything odd or unusual about this level of influence? What precisely is annoying you–the level of influence, the lack of attribution, Third Day’s general crappiness, or something else?

  5. thebram31 permalink*
    August 12, 2008 5:22 pm

    Firstly: quoting is not the same as making a declaration. I did make an implication, but it was mainly sarcastic and in the spirit of my sassy post. No, I didn’t forget it, I just don’t need to go over it. Though apparently a lot of other people are calling them that, on other sites. I didn’t forget about it I just don’t really need to go over it. Unless asked.

    Secondly: To answer the rest of your questions would involve a long and involved essay post which I just simply don’t have time for. But in short, all those three things, and no I don’t think it’s unusual especially since the band designed it themselves. If I was a musician I would adopt a visual artist’s motifs too. I’m just pointing out visual rhymes and similarities which most people have echoed.

  6. David permalink
    August 13, 2008 6:59 pm

    Oh-oh, on RH’s album, “Hail to the Chief”, could the Chief be God?? Plus, God IS written on the artwork. Oooo, clearly a connection you concocted.

    But really, “crappy pop rockers”? Let’s at least get your genre correct, as in Christian Contemporary. And I think 3 Grammys, 22 Dove awards, a huge international following, and a decade of live shows might make them a bit more than you are willing to admit. Probably should listen to the music and not just judge them on cover art.

  7. thebram31 permalink*
    August 15, 2008 10:57 am

    Um. . . yeah. Clearly the grammys are the arbiters of excellence as their past choices of Milli Vanilli and MC Hammer previously have shown.

    3rd Day may be Christian Contemporary but they make pop music. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Who made “Hail to the Chief” BTW?

  8. theanchovist permalink
    September 25, 2009 8:18 am

    I just want to say I agree with you. On the part “older, better, much more relevant artwork on the cover of an older, better, much more relevant band”. And at least, if I may say so, considering the previous comments, that Radiohead is, in my opinion, not even comparable to other bands, let alone – sorry – Christian Contemporary.

  9. Greg Pottinger permalink
    October 24, 2009 1:59 am

    David – the name of Radiohead’s album is “Hail To The Thief” not “Chief”. This is another great example of what I have found fascinating about this debate: it paints a picture of how sheltered and unaware third day’s fanbase is. And I think it probably goes beyond just third day fans. Christians just seem so unaware of even the largest cultural movements. This is something I came across that a T.Day fan had posted on another site –

    “Gods hand is all over this thing, is radiohead even on the map commercially in any genre?”


  10. October 26, 2009 2:11 pm

    Personally, I think that it’s interesting that there’s still a debate going on out there, somewhere.

    All it all started with a simple observation and four sentences.

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