Music’s ultimately about the recorded product, but being handsome certainly doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to launch a career in entertainment. While a woman’s attractiveness might keep her from being taken seriously, a man’s handsomeness is nothing but an asset.
Here are ten male musicians whose music I enjoy, and whom I consider to be notably good looking – bear in mind, as a heterosexual male, my judgement may be questionable. I’ve tried to keep the discussion classy, but please let me know if I’ve crossed a line in any of the descriptions.
Ten Sexiest Men in Music
The front man of Blur chose to represent himself as a cartoon in virtual band Gorillaz, although it seems an unnecessary move:
If I still consider myself handsome? Do I have to do the false modesty thing? No? OK. Do I find myself beautiful? Yes, clearly. But not every day! (laughs) With the right angle and the right light, I am still pretty handsome.”Damon Albarn, 2017
David Bowie was a naturally handsome man – he even looked terrific in a dress, as on the cover of 1970’s The Man Who Sold The World. He dabbled in acting with roles like squeezing into the tight pants of The Goblin King in Labyrinth. Part of Bowie’s unique look came from an incident at school; he was punched in the face during a fight over a girl, permanently damaging his eye, and giving the impression that his eyes were two different colours.
Jeff Buckley aced the gene pool – with his soaring voice and fantastic guitar chops, he had limitless potential as a musician. This potential was squandered when he drowned in a Memphis river after only one album, 1994’s Grace. His good looks certainly didn’t stand in the way of his musical career. Buckley’s piercing eyes and exquisitely long lashes, in tandem with sensitive songs like ‘Hallelujah’, presumably boosted his female fan-base. Jeff’s father, the more avant-garde Tim Buckley, would have been a solid inclusion in this list too.
It has always interested me how Nirvana broke through to the mainstream, when their talented alt-rock forbears failed. In practice, what separated Nirvana from bands like Pixies, The Replacements, and Hüsker Dü was that they produced that one magical mega song. It was Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ that vaulted them into the public consciousness. But Cobain’s nonchalant good looks, blue eyes and blond hair, certainly didn’t hurt either.
All of the big four grunge bands featured handsome lead singers – along with Cobain in Nirvana and Chris Cornell’s Soundgarden, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Alice in Chains Layne Staley were also good looking men. Chris Cornell’s lyrics on songs like ‘Black Hole Sun’ and ‘Fell on Black Days’ were dark and brooding, but people who met him talk about how tall and handsome he was. In the liner notes to Chris Cornell retrospective compilation, Tom Morello writes of the subject’s “ridiculously beautiful hair”.
Donald Glover started his career in TV – first as a writer, then landing iconic film roles like Simba and Lando Calrissian. He’s also branched into music under the name Childish Gambino, and he’s best known for his 2018 song ‘This is America’ and its accompanying video. He looked great with his shirt off during his recent Coachella performance.
Not content with merely being one of the greatest soul singers of all time, Marvin Gaye was also extremely handsome. Not every man can rock a woolly hat the way that Gaye could, and it’s not surprising he wound up marrying his boss’s daughter.
McKenzie rose to prominence as half of “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, Flight of the Conchords. But before musical fame, McKenzie had already gained a following for a cameo in Lord of the Rings, where he played an elf escort. Despite not having a speaking part in The Fellowship of the Rings, McKenzie was given the name Figwit by fans, standing for “Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?”. The founders of the first Figwit fansite, www.figwitlives.net, dubbed McKenzie “Legolas for the thinking woman”.
Sam Phillips, boss of Sun Records famously stated, “If I could find a white man with the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” Elvis Presley bought the crossover appeal that Phillips was searching for, but he was also devastatingly handsome into the bargain, becoming the biggest star of 1950s rock and roll as well as a movie career.
Many established stars from the 1970s faded from the limelight as MTV redefined the pathway to commercial success in the early 1980s. But Bruce’s rugged good looks translated well to the new medium, and his best-selling album, 1984’s Born in the U.S.A., took full advantage, with popular videos and a shot of Springsteen’s butt on the cover.
Those are my picks for the ten sexiest male musicians of all time. Any favourites? Any names to throw into the hat?
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Great choices here. Mine would be Joe Perry circa 1989.
Just checked out his cover for Guitar magazine in 1989, and he does have a dark brooding thing going.
Compare that to Joe Perry today. Ew.
I kind of like the white fringe – it’s flamboyant.
It’s his current moustache (if you can call it that) which terrifies me!
Bruce is a great pick, he’s certainly masculine and appeals to both genders. I don’t know if Barry White (who was overweight) and Prince ( short and eccentric) are attractive though their vocals and lyrics are sexy
Prince is very striking – creative dress sense helps him too. With White, I doubt if he would have made it big if he’d been starting his career in the MTV era.
Haha. Fun idea for a post. And Bret McKenzie is a great pick. I can’t think of any that I would throw into he ring but perhaps if you did a “homliest” male list, I could give you some suggestions.
I don’t know if I want to go there – if I did, I might do homeliest band?
Good choices… The three I heard most about from girls and then women were Elvis, Prince, and Bowie…. not counting the teen idols.
I didn’t really think about Prince, but he’s been mentioned a bunch in the comments already, and he certainly had a striking visual image.
Speaking as a guy….I don’t think he is handsome in that sense but you are right…it’s the complete image.
He did pretty well for a 5ft2 guy.
I don’t see how he did all he did in those stacks.
Ha! You win the “Completely Unexpected Blog Post Of the Year.” Never much thought about it but I’m always game for a list. Here’s mine – Jim Morrison, Elvis, Bruce, Robert Palmer, Lenny Kravitz, Sting, Tom Jones, Gavin Rossdale, Prince, Bowie. (Honorable mention – John Mayer.)
Feel like you should make your own post justifying your picks. I considered Sting, but I couldn’t find a quote I remembered reading once – about how he posed topless as a treat for his female fans.
Kravitz certainly belongs there for looks, but I don’t enjoy his music much – he always seems very derivative to me.
Tom Jones is the one where I feel like his sex appeal hasn’t transcended generations – he’s certainly an icon for women of an older generation, but I doubt younger women would get it?
Oh I very much doubt I’d do a post on this topic. It’s fun but “justifying” is a bit much. Like you said, we’re heterosexual guys, what do we know? I put Tom Jones in because he’s been considered sexy for so long. I know a woman (50’s?) who went to see him and women of all ages were still hot for him.
What’s going on here?! Thought this would be an ironic post but then…saved by Brett Mckenzie! Classic
Do you know the actress Thomasin McKenzie, from Wellington? I’m related to her, plus my wife’s maiden name is McKenzie as well.
I kinda dig Emmy Lou Harris, Kate Bush, Chrissie Hynde, PJ Harvey .,,,, sorry wrong category.
Emmylou is totally on any future female list…
What fun we metro-sexuals have! Good on ya, G, for trying something new and different. And great responses (my favourite is Jim’s).
The Boss and Bowie for me for starters (so to speak). Would have to think about others. There’s always the problem with looks of whether it is matched by any kind of internal attractiveness.
I’m already trying to match looks with musical output – feel like the third criteria of internal attractiveness is making it pretty tricky.
What?!! No Mark E. Smith, or Lemmy?! I demand a recount.
Should do a list of musicians with bad teeth…
Well, this was unexpected. I’d second Jim’s vote for Morrison. I would add Michael Hutchence and Josh Homme has a bit of that Elvis thing going on. I can also understand the swooning some done over Robert Palmer and, although I’m not a fan of his stuff from the 80’s onwards, old Rod Stewart still seems to have some appeal.
Rod Stewart’s hair is crucial. Often he reminds me of a cockatoo when it gets too flamboyant. Obviously looks good when it’s under control.
I didn’t think of Josh Homme, but he would have been a good choice.
As a heterosexual woman, my vote goes to David Bowie… I mean, any man with hair that luscious and a bone structure that striking immediately wins my choice! He looked like some form of blindingly stunning woodland mythical creature from 1967-79. Of course, any appreciation of the music comes second-best to his beauty (haha)!! (Agreed re. the Buckleys as well!)
It’s good to hear from a heterosexual woman; my wife reckons Childish Gambino and Lin-Manuel Miranda from Hamilton are the best.
Haha, I have several friends that would agree with her! My top two are Bowie and Hugh Grant (!)…
OK, I can’t pick just 10. In no particular order here are my nominees for the 15 sexiest men in music: Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder, Prince, Joe Perry, Slash, Sting, Tom Morello, Josh Homme, Alan Jackson, George Jones, George Harrison, Brandon Flowers, Townes VanZandt, Roger Waters, and Doyle Bramhall II.