The music industry has a long history of allowing people who should never be getting laid getting laid. It’s part of the deal when you become a superstar. James Blunt is still getting laid, the dude from Keane is still getting laid, somewhere around Ole Miss, Bubba Sparxxx is getting laid.
It’s a very unique psychological effect, something I call the “sexy ugly guy.” Where a flabby, antisocial, or otherwise awkward star stumbles into sexiness out of circumstances and a few adorable quirks. It’s a beautiful thing that lets the general public know that, hey, we’re only one hit away from being the apple of the world’s eye. Here are our five favorite sexy ugly guys.
See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time
He stands at 5’6, he’s covered in tattoos, he’s got an awful piercing in his lip, and he may be biologically dependent on codeine. But that doesn’t matter, because Lil Wayne is supposed to be a possessed weirdo, and possessed weirdos are sexy. We generally take our bad boys with only the bare minimum of redeemable qualities, and the petrified, walking corpse of Weezy only compliments his essence. He brags about sex because he knows, deep down, that he needs to keep up the mirage as long as possible. Tight jeans, hat pulled low, and a Styrofoam cup. It makes for an iconic silhouette, and Wayne will milk it for as long as he can.
I’ll always love how Stephanie Seymour towers over Axl Rose in the “November Rain” video, in one of the many, many wedding dresses he probably ravaged over the course of his career. Axl will always be an awkward looking fellow, his bizarre copper hair too often tied in proto-KoRn braids, his pallid skin mottled by several lifetimes worth of debauchery. Nobody has tried so hard to be sexy. It’s hard up there standing next to Slash, and he holds his own mostly through the undeniable magic of being Axl Rose.
What awful fucking hair. Those molasses, Jesus-y spindles and curls dripping off his scalp. Chris Cornell and his distressed jeans and uncanny-valley stare. So what is it about his voice that so effectively separates him from the rest of the moogle-faced alt-rock bros? There’s power to looking like you’re in deep, deep pain while singing. There’s power to being the asshole with a self-righteous, but still pure point of view. There’s power to the late-career acoustic covers. Shining through that weird greasy visage, there’s power to Chris Cornell.
I still don’t really know what Thom Yorke looks like. His eye seems to be jutting off in a slightly different direction whenever I get a good look, his hair has ranged from apocalyptic bleach-blonde to a domesticated, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-anymore ponytail. Maybe it’s because he’s never tried to upstage the tall, dark, and handsome Johnny Greenwood, and that those beady eyes were still responsible for looping back “Ideoteque” for the first time, but Yorke has edged out his own, unique corner of sexiness all to himself. It gave hope to the rest of us gawky nerds, that once you become the defining musical voice of a generation you’ll become a sex symbol by default.
The king of kings. Those pasty white cheeks and disgusting shriveled hair. That gross hat. The relentlessly unflattering clothes, the psychopathic edge, the Sharpie moustache. Jack White is easily the most undesirable desirable man in the universe. People that look like Jack White shouldn’t be rockstars, they should be huddled together on subreddits. He knows this, and that’s why he’ll fit his flab into skintight bright red and play as loud and as hard as he possibly can. He is relentless, he is ugly, and he is beautiful.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 17, 2014