Some Thoughts

If You Saw a Knee on the Strokes ‘Is This It’ Artwork, You’re Pure

What your perception of the album cover, from the New York band's 2001 debut, says about you.

by Tshepo Mokoena
30 August 2018, 11:39am

The Strokes' 'Is This It' artwork

You know that smug Sunday Times book review quote, about how "The English-speaking world is divided into those who have read Lord of the Rings and those who are going to”? That’s fine but also forget about it. Let today be known as the day that forever divided the music-listening world in two: those who, rightfully, thought a bum was photographed on The Strokes' Is This It album cover, and those who thought they were looking at a gloved hand on… a knee.

On Wednesday, the Guardian ran an interview with Colin Lane, who took that stark black-and-white photo of his then-girlfriend. As Lane put it, "my girlfriend jumped out of the shower while I was messing around with a Big Shot Polaroid, a clunky, plastic box camera that I found in my parents’ attic." She put on a Chanel glove he'd found in the flat, placed it on her bum like every woman pretending to be a wholesome mum in an Asda advert, leaned over a bit and then – click – he took the photo. Though Lane later met up with the Strokes and took a bunch of portraits of them, on rooftops in New York and other romantic-sounding stuff, the band flicked through his portfolio and pointed to the photo of Lane's ex as one they wanted for their debut album artwork.

Lane would go on tour with the Strokes, from 2001 to 2006, off the back of that connection they made. "It was crazy to think this shot had ended up on one of the most seminal albums of the noughties," he also told the Guardian. But... you know what else is a bit wild? That some among us may have thought the album depicted a hand on a bent knee, inexplicably rotated 90 degrees from how you'd actually sit. One Guardian comment under Lane's piece, in fact, reads: "So it really is a woman's backside!? I read a few years ago that it was a picture of a hand on a knee, which is what I've been telling people ever since. The picture on my CD is cropped a bit so it was a convincing statement at the time. How disappointing!" After conducting a very unscientific survey in the office, about 12 percent of people within shouting distance of my desk thought a knee appeared on the cover of Is This It. This is what the great divide means.


People have naturally gravitated towards you since you were about nine;

You laughed at the idea of Big Dick Energy this summer but mumbled to yourself, "if anyone has it, you do mate;"

You've only been dumped because you cheated;

You were either book-smart without having to make much effort, or were charming enough to get in school with average marks;

People often talk about how your eye contact makes them feel;

You've lost something really important, like your passport or contactless debit card, then like not really thought about it and had someone hand it in without photocopying it to steal your identity/ spending a penny;

If you identify as a woman, you've made 90 percent of your partners (of whatever gender) orgasm; if you're a straight man, you're probably on about 60 percent but that's cool; if you identify as a man and shag other men, you've done 96 percent;

In summary: you're a shagger. Please start therapy for the other stuff, if you haven't already.


Some of your fondest teen memories involve baking, hiking and/or writing poetry that you never showed to anyone else or performed;

You haven’t muted anyone’s Insta stories yet;

Just kidding: social media isn’t even that important to you, beyond nice tweets about Bake Off or really good journalism;

You’re still great at baking. You’re 27;

You read those signs about not drinking on public transport as commands and not suggestions;

You say stuff like “not partying for the past two months has been the best decision I ever made;”

You own property or at least have thousands in savings, with a house as your goal;

You've never looked closely at a knee??

In summary: you’re a shag-not, but are well-adjusted and healthy.

You can find Tshepo listening to Is This It again on Twitter.

The Strokes