Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A face for radio... and restraint on social media

Sometimes it's hard to ignore certain people.  You know... the people who like to be contrary and argue over dumb shit.

This inspired a debate...

When I saw the above photo, I decided to share it.  The other day, as Bill and I were driving through Ludwigsburg, a song by Laura Branigan came on my iPod.  She had a decent career in the 80s and sang several big hits.  If I recall correctly, she was also a guest on CHiPs.

Laura Branigan singing "Gloria", her big hit from 1982.

And guesting on CHiPs...

Laura Branigan wasn't exactly "ugly" per se...  She was attractive and normal looking.  She had a really big voice that was distinctive.  Her career took a noticeable downturn as the 80s marched on and she got older, though she did continue to tour and make albums.  She died in 2004 at the age of 52.  Maybe Laura Branigan isn't the best representative of this point, since she certainly couldn't be considered "ugly".  However, it was her song "Self Control" that got me talking to Bill about this subject and reminded me of our conversation when I saw the above photo.

Christopher Cross is an example of a late 70s and 80s star whose career seemed to fizzle when video became especially popular.  Yes, he still makes music and tours.  But his debut album was absolutely huge and he never managed to repeat that success, seemingly because the music business became a lot more focused on image than it was before music videos.

He's not ugly, but he doesn't have movie star good looks...

Robert John sings "Sad Eyes"...  He has a face for radio

Anyway... I thought it was kind of a funny photo and the point was rather obvious.  It was meant to be funny, not literal.  Of course I know that ugly people still make music.  A few of them are lucky enough to be really successful.  However, less attractive people who are very successful are not the norm in most genres of popular music.  Top 40 music, country music, rock music, you know... the genres where people get the most exposure and make the most money, tend to be full of very attractive people who came by their looks naturally or unnaturally.

Before MTV, we certainly had attractive people making music, but it seemed like it was less important, probably because it was less possible to drastically alter someone's image through surgery and television appearances on multiple channels weren't as widespread.  Nowadays, famous people get face lifts, teeth whitening, veneers, liposuction, and implants so they can look the part of a star and be red carpet worthy all the time.  Some of them have real talent and some of them just look the part and have help from technology.  I think that was the main point of the above photo, not that ugly people literally aren't making music.

There are a few people on my friends list who like to argue about stuff like this.  I almost always end up getting annoyed when this happens, so I have to practice restraint and not get into it with them.  It's hard, though, because I am the type of person who likes to be understood.  Sometimes, I feel like I have to clarify my point or explain myself.  I should remember that most people aren't that interested in what I think.  They just want to engage in a battle of wits and try to make me look dumb.  My guess is that this person understood my point perfectly; he just wants to put in his two cents, maybe in an attempt to look and feel smarter.  So he makes a contrary point just to start an argument.

Basically, he said that recording equipment is cheap, which allows more people than ever to make music.  And that's true, I guess.  Anyone can put stuff on YouTube.  I do it.  But just because you can make music and put it on YouTube doesn't mean people will listen to it or watch you perform it.  Yes, you can make music if you aren't attractive.  Can you be a star and be ugly?  Maybe if you have charisma to make up for your lack of looks.  Lyle Lovett and James Taylor are two less attractive guys who have managed to be famous despite their unconventional looks (although I thought JT was kind of cute when he was younger and Lovett would win me over with his wit and intelligence).  But Taylor and Lovett aren't really the norm.  I have to wonder if a guy like Willie Nelson could make it big in the music business today.  I'm really not sure.

It took some restraint not to make a direct comment to the person who inspired today's post.  I started to... but then I thought better of it, remembering that this time last year, he argued with me for over a day over a certain taboo word in the English language and another word that sounds like it.  He basically implied that I lack intelligence because he thought I didn't understand him, when I actually did.  I just didn't agree with him and refused to acquiesce.

When he wouldn't take the cue to let the matter drop, I had to point blank ask him to leave me alone.  I have no desire to compare penis lengths with him today because I have other things to do... and frankly, it's just pointless and raises my blood pressure.

Of course, I have another urge to simply tell him to shut the fuck up.  But again, I am practicing restraint, because I don't like being overtly rude to people.  I also think people have the right to their opinions and to express themselves.  I don't have to respond to it, so today I won't.  Still...

We know Taylor Swift better than we know Joanna Connor... and that's a damn shame.

Maybe Joanna Connor doesn't want to be a huge star.  Well.. really, she already is a huge star to some people.  But I remember when I first saw one of her videos and I had no idea who she was, just that she was slaying her guitar in a most impressive way.

These two guys... 2Cellos... became Internet sensations a couple of years ago because they're hotties... and they also play cello like they sold their souls to the devil.

I have written about both of these acts on a music blog, but 2Cellos get the most interest.  They look the part of stars, while Joanna Connor kinda doesn't.

And of course, Susan Boyle illustrates this point pretty well, since people in the audience thought she was going to be horrible before she opened her mouth...

But yes, she can sing.  Being physically attractive has nothing to do with musical talent.  It has a lot to do with whether or not a performer will ultimately have notable success.  Susan Boyle is famous for her bad looks, which eventually got cleaned up a bit.  But she will never be as popular as Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert.  Few people will hang her poster in their bedrooms and fantasize about having sex with her.

Even Jennifer Hudson, who was famous for being a big black singer with killer pipes, slimmed down and became a pitchwoman for a diet chain.  I don't know if losing weight helped Jennifer Hudson's career, since to me, she seems as popular now as she was when she was in Dreamgirls.  But, she no doubt felt the pressure to conform.  I was a little sad when she went down to a size four.  I can see losing weight for health reasons, but she became just like all the other divas... and is now, well, kinda ordinary.

Anyway, I'm done preaching.  Getting hangry and need some lunch.    


  1. Meatloaf was another musician who had a face made for radio but had some good songs.

  2. Yeah... and his career declined after videos, though he did make a comeback in the early 90s. I have to confess that I hate "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" because it brings back some bad memories.


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