This is going to take some explanation. It all started with a picture floating around Facebook. Maybe you’ve seen it.
Anyway, I posted this, and my brother Kip said, “that should be a Friday Five: great songs by ugly artists!” Rather than doing a Friday Five, I thought I’d do it today for M4.
I don’t consider any of these artists ugly. I like, even love, their music, and would rather see them in concert than anyone making popular music today. The suits that control the popular music industry today would likely disagree; to paraphrase H. L. Mencken, they’re the kind of people who believe that, since a rose smells better than a cabbage, it makes better soup. Anyway, on to the songs.
Never Be The Same – Christopher Cross The classic example of an artist whose career was ruined by MTV. His 1979 eponymous debut album went five times platinum and earned him five Grammy awards. MTV didn’t like his looks nor did they like his kind of Adult Contemporary. He continues to perform and record, but his albums haven’t been on the charts in some time. This went to #15 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1980.
Downtown Train – Tom Waits He’s not a very good singer, and his looks aren’t likely to have the girls screaming for him, but he’s a pretty remarkable songwriter and musician whose songs have been covered by the likes of The Eagles and Rod Stewart, who covered this song. This is from his 1985 album Rain Dogs.
Constant Craving – k. d. lang I’m not sure k. d. belongs on this list, because I think she’s quite striking, but I doubt she’s what the producers of today are looking for. Besides, I wanted to make an excuse to play this song, from her 1992 album Ingenue. It reached #38 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the adult contemporary chart in 1992, and actually received the Best Female Video award from MTV the following year. I don’t think she’d do as well today.
With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker The late Joe Cocker wasn’t much in either the looks or voice category, but was a magnificent interpreter of songs. In this clip from Woodstock, he sings a song first sung by another “ugly” artist, Ringo Starr.
Frosty The Snowman – Leon Redbone and Dr. John Yes, it’s a Christmas song, and no, I don’t care. From Leon’s 1987 album Christmas Island, sung by a couple of old and not especially attractive guys.
What songs would you add to this list? Are there any you’d take off? Let me know in the comments.
That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 24, 2016.