Where are all the ugly people in mainstream music? I know ugly people exist; I see them walking, driving in cars; they’re in malls, restaurants and movie theatres (although they’re much harder to find when the lights go down). They haunt the halls of office buildings, fill up the pews in churches and even couple (I know, the horror!). Yep, ugly is alive in well in the real world, but not in the plastic world of Pop music.
When was the last time you saw a video from a new artist who didn’t look like he or she just came from their day gig at a modelling agency? Does talent no longer knock on the doors of the beautifully challenged? Does God (or the Universe, or whatever the hell you want to call it) only bestow the gift of mainstream success on those who can double as makeup and skin cream pitch people? Do the suits running the major labels find their hearing somehow funked up when an ugly person walks in the room or on stage?
We see ugly people on talent shows all the time, but they’re usually props for the ‘best of the worst’ episodes. And yes, I’m aware of the odd mutts who somehow get through to the final rounds on the fan voted shows (and the one in a million ugly who defies the odds and actually wins). The viewers recognize that talent and ugly can co-exist, but an ugly winning an American tv talent competition is rarer than a spotted unicorn. Something happens when beautiful people step in front of tv talent judges, the ugly people disappear, their talent washed away in a tsunami of pretty.
I’m bombarded daily with press releases pitching air-brushed guys and gals who, although blessed with good voices, have about as much depth as a puddle. These GQ and People cardboard cutouts all look and sound alike. Go spend a week hanging out in the clubs in any major music centre, and you’ll be completely blown away by the level of talent. Sure you will find a lot of pretty Barbie and Ken doll singers, but the majority will be average looking folks who aren’t trading on their looks, but killing it night after night with from-the-gut, God’s honest heart and soul talent.
Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful people as much as anyone else, but when it comes to music, it’s all about the song for me. I don’t give a rat’s ass if you look like the Elephant man, if your music moves me, I’m going to buy it, enjoy it and promote it. In today’s music business, unless you look like you just stepped out of a magazine ad, your chance of mainstream success is almost nil. Thankfully, the constantly growing Americana scene welcomes all, pretty or ugly.