When I first saw the cover for Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album, Contra, I thought it was weak. It’s a shadowy Polaroid pic of a redheaded girl donning a light yellow Ralph Lauren polo shirt, collar halfway popped. I assumed they’d snapped the pic recently—since the band has fully embraced preppiness, I guessed that was a random fan or perhaps one of the guy’s girlfriends. After ranting to a friend about this, he looked it up and discovered that, no, the photo wasn’t recent. It was taken in 1983. This made it 200 times cooler—I kind of loved the idea that the 20-something girl in the image was now close to 50 and could basically be anywhere in the country doing anything. I liked that it was a subtle commentary on style, and how something taken so long ago could still look completely current.
But apparently, the woman in the photo—Ann Kirsten Kennis (hello, country-clubbiest name ever)—wasn’t so thrilled with the cover.Yesterday, she filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against the band, the label, and the photographer who took the picture, Tod Brody. She’s claiming that the photo was taken in the ’80s when she was a “a high-fashion model under contract with prestigious agencies in New York City,” and that the signature on the release form for the image was forged. She’s suing for $2 million saying that, “the album design, in which the Photograph is featured prominently, was a substantial factor in generating recognition and buzz for the Contra album, thus increasing sales and profits.” [EW]
I dunno. This is one of the biggest indie rock bands in the country; I think peeps would have bought the album no matter what was on the cover. Especially after hearing the song “Horchata.” And $2 million seems like a pretty steep price, especially if the band and label thought that they were using a photo where the subject had signed away her rights. If I were Ann, I’d just be happy that my face was on the cover of one of the best albums of the year. And maybe ask for a much smaller make-good fee.