a thousand words

Saturday, July 11, 2009


There was a time when actual vocal talent, a physiological gift separated a good singer from the rest of us who can only croak in the shower and dream. The singers were awesome; their voices were like instruments that defied human capacities. We used to admire our singers for their singular gift and we enjoyed the music out of sheer respect.

So, it occurred to me that many of the old “real” singers were not the most attractive people who’d ever meet. But most people are not attractive. It is the nature of beauty that it is rare and so it only made sense that most of the singers were not pretty. Thank God they were on the radio and you couldn’t see their asses. They lived in our minds and in our hearts where music does its best work.

Still, I watched as girls screamed with delight over ugly men and men grunted sexy approval of women who, without the gift, were just plain homely. I know now that they were more beautiful to us because of their talent. That whole “eye of the beholder” thing was never truer. Then something awful happened.

Music videos.

Michael made a music video called Billy Jean. All of a sudden, how you looked was just as important as how you sounded. The music business now wanted all singers to be as appealing as possible and so the ugly singers started to disappear, replaced by beautiful people who did not have the gift. Technology helped these untalented beauties to sound like their ugly counterparts. Over time, image replaced talent in popular music.

We rebelled. We stopped paying for mediocre CD’s with one polished hit and twelve other tracks of musical defecation. We started borrowing, copying and downloading only the music that didn’t make our ears bleed. The music industry’s profits plummeted.

Hip Hop hasn’t been affected by this phenomenon yet. The rappers are some of the most hideous people on the planet and that’s why their music dominates the landscape.

I never wanted to get old and be one of those guys who complained about how things used to be better when he was young but-- things used to be better, goddammit! And I can prove it. Just watch the singing contest shows, where they have embraced mediocrity and beauty and have a contest to see who can “not sing” the best. Or go to a concert of one of these pretty singers or watch a non-enhanced TV performance and you will hear my proof. THEY CAN’T SING! They are off key, out of sync and just plain awful.

So. bring back the ugly singers.

Bring them back with their, crooked noses, non-perfect features and heavenly voices. We’re sorry! We didn’t mean to push you aside. We were blinded by the perfect smiles, satin skin and silicone implants. Come back to us and we will exalt you again, even if we do have to close our eyes when we listen.