Why is image so important to singers?
There was once a time when how you looked didn’t matter nearly as much as how you sounded when it came to being a recording artist. Now looks are everything, but why does it matter?
I have always wondered why recording artists even care about how they look. Yes, I understand that you want to look your best when you go for a photo shoot or get out on stage, but music celebrities these days go much too far when it comes to their appearance. In some cases, it seems that looks matter more than the music. Do people really buy CDs based on how the artist looks?
I have never cared what a singer looks like. My only concern is with how they sound. If someone has a great voice, or makes great music, what they look like is meaningless. Looks don’t change a singer’s voice or a musician’s skill, any yet the industry is pushing “hot” artists while other, less attractive performers fall to the wayside. I have actually seen television shows and interviews where incredibly talented individuals were passed over because they didn’t have “the look” of a star.
I can think of plenty of people in the music world who most certainly don’t have “the look”. Have you ever seen Ronny James Dio or Lemmy of Motorhead? They are ugly as sin, but they’re amazingly talented. Freddy Mercury was goofy looking, Iggy Pop is frightening and Shane MacGowan formerly of the Pogues is a train-wreck. Oh, and let’s not forget the ladies! Kelis is a mess, Courtney Love and Amy Winehouse probably scare small children, and Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand weren’t attractive even in their prime. Despite their looks though, most of these people have serious talent, some of them are downright amazing.
I know MTV changed the world of music by making the people we listen to visible, and for some people that changed their opinions of the singers they listened to. I also understand that hot pop stars probably sell more albums to hormonally charged teens. But for most of the CD buying population, do looks really matter? Are there people out there who won’t buy an album because they think the singer is ugly? I think if it was really an issue, those people I mentioned earlier would be broke.
People need to get back to what really matters: the talent of the artist. I’d buy an album by Quasimodo if he had a good voice. Wouldn’t you? If you heard an amazing voice, then found it had come out of a burn victim, would you refuse to buy their CD? Would you stop buying albums from a band if you saw that one of them was really ugly? People basing their music buying choices on the looks of an artist makes about as much sense as my youngest uncle burning his Queen collection when he found out Freddy Mercury was gay. Did the man’s sexual preference suddenly change his level of talent? Not at all. Freddy was a god.
I’m sure everyone’s heard the phrase “Sex sells and everyone’s buying”, but I don’t think that excuses anyone who bases their musical purchases on the looks of the artist. Some of the most talented people in the world aren’t much to look at. One might also consider the message that this trend sends to young people. It basically says “you can only be successful if you’re attractive in the eyes of the media”. I wonder how many talented young people have forgone their dreams of a music career because they thought they weren’t attractive enough to become successful.