It goes without saying that the Arab world can be a little more conservative than other regions. Thus, it’s not uncommon for more modest countries in the Middle East to stock shelves with alternatives of international albums with covers heavily edited in order to adhere to traditional standards of modesty.
In fact, before Saudi Arabia lifted the requirement that all women should wear an abaya and hijab in public in 2019, members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, more commonly known as the “religious police,” would censor many female pop artists’ album covers if they were wearing revealing clothing or posing in a provocative way. It didn’t matter if you were multi Grammy-winning artist Beyonce or the Princess of Pop herself Britney Spears — no one was immune to being “halal-ified” by the mutawa.
Artists like Shakira and Lady Gaga have occasionally had their poses and clothing altered on their album covers by way of (really poor) Photoshop jobs, or expertly cropped to hide an exposed midriff or bare legs. In one instance, Christina Aguilera’s skintight jeans and bra top from her 2002 album cover “Stripped” were not-so-seamlessly transformed into a long denim skirt and a black sweater.
Look at this atrocity askjskjkss. Even Twice is not safe from being erased lmao pic.twitter.com/kbFTlX6Hjs
— izzi di kwangya (@IzzRaifHarz) September 29, 2019
Meanwhile, some music streaming services in Iran will take it upon themselves to completely Thanos-out women artists from their album covers altogether.
Now, we know what you’re all thinking: “Where can we find these iconic album covers?” Don’t worry, we did the homework for you and scoured the internet to bring you a roundup of the most hilarious and absolutely camp censored album covers from the Middle East. Now without further ado…
Christina Aguilera “Lotus”
Kylie Minogue “Fever”
Katy Perry “Teenage Dream”
Britney Spears “Oops.. I Did It Again”
Madonna “Hard Candy”
Ariana Grande “My Everything”
Mariah Carey “Butterfly”
Billie Eilish “When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?”