Pretentious album names of Jay-Z and others

The Magna Carta is a document signed by an English king a long time ago that kick-started democracy in the Western world.

Magna Carta is also part of Jay-Z's new album title - Magna Carta Holy Grail. We like the Hov - he is probably one of the best rappers today - but even we shook our heads when his record label sent us pictures of his album cover next to the Magna Carta in Salisbury Cathedral in England.

It was preposterous, but not surprising coming from a rapper (above) since self-aggrandisement is integral to the job.

In fact, Jay-Z is called "Jay-Hova cause the flow is religious" (a lyric from the intro to his 1997 album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1).

What is surprising is that in the album - released this week - the 43-year-old US rapper questions the trappings of fame and the value of the things his millions can buy him.

In any case, while Magna Carta Holy Grail alone is a pretentious album title, it is not the worst we have ever come across.

Next page: Others with pretentious album names

Here are others (we are leaving indie and metal bands out of this list - there is not enough newsprint in the world for a list of pretentious album and song titles in those genres):

Fiona Apple

Three years after her 1996 debut Tidal, which spawned the single Criminal, US singer-songwriter Fiona Apple decided she'd get creative with the title of her second album in 1999.

Music magazines tend to shorten it to When the Pawn... but its full title is (brace yourself):

When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.

Looks like the 35-year-old wrote a poem but couldn't find a melody for it, so she decided to stick two whole verses into the album title.

What's worse? She's a repeat offender.

Last year, she came back from a crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder to release a new album titled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.

Kanye West

The title of Kanye West's recent album, Yeezus, suggests that the 36-year-old US rapper sees himself as a modern-day version of the historical religious figure who was crucified.

It's one of his most polarising efforts ever - fans seem to hate it for not being Gold Digger Part 2, critics and music types (Lou Reed) think it is "beautiful... there's no reason why it's beautiful".

It was released around the time he and Kim Kardashian got criticised for their baby's name - North West (perhaps the crowning achievement in West's career in poetry) - so we shall give the guy some leeway.

Limp Bizkit

After their 1999 single Nookie shot them into the stratosphere, Limp Bizkit followed up in 2000 with an album whose title - Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water - no one understood.

In interviews with the US rockers, it came to light that "chocolate starfish" was actually a scatological reference, which is gross but fitting, considering the album secured Limp Bizkit's position as mostly a joke band that gave nu metal a bad name.


The Coldplay boys must have got worried that the world had forgotten they are not just rock stars and that they are smart, too. (Frontman Chris Martin and guitarist Jonny Buckland met at University College London.)

So after they had 2005's most successful album with X&Y, they decided to get a little more intellectual with 2008's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends.

Besides the album title that suggested the British rockers could not make up their mind, there was also the highbrow art reference on the cover - an 1830 painting by French artist Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People.

Coldplay get bonus pretentious points for wearing jackets inspired by soldiers in the painting throughout their tour for the album.

Other notable mentions: Michael Jackson's HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I (1995); U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004); Public Enemy's How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul (2007).