Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Battle Royale for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Animal Magnetism


I think it’s important to assess each of these artists in terms of their personality, their status as an icon, their mystique. Let’s face it: We’re talking about sex here. The sex appeal of each of the candidates may seem like a peripheral issue, but it’s an integral component of each act’s image, and in rock & roll, image is everything. And it’s fun to talk about, so what the heck. 

This will probably end up being the least important of our categories, but it’s good to have it on the record anyway. Note that I bring my own viewpoint to this as a heterosexual male, but I have tried my best to accommodate the perspectives of others. If Beyonce thinks someone is sexy, I’m going to take that under advisement.


  1. The Go-Go’s They were one of those rare groups – along with the Beatles and Buckingham-Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac-

    where each member had a distinct personality and contributed something specific and meaningful to the overall whole. And they did it while being as fun and fresh as any band ever, and as sexy as all get out.
  2. Jay-Z I will defer here to the judgment of the most desirable woman in the world.
  3. Tina Turner The owner of the most famous legs in the business, if not the world, she was also a survivor, a fighter, an icon, a movie star who also had her own Oscar-nominated biopic.

  4. LL Cool J I am struggling to explain why he’s two slots down from Jay-Z, when I can’t think of Cool J without remembering the phrase “breathtaking torso." I guess it’s because Cool J went on to become a minor TV star when his music career began to fade, while Jay-Z went on to become Jay-Z.
  5. Chaka Khan When she was just a teenager, Ike Turner invited her to become an Ikette, but she decided to stay in the job she had just taken, as the lead singer of Rufus. Good move. Ike later described her as “a catalyst emotionally and in other ways as well," if you know what I mean. Prince’s infatuation with her – he had a Rufus poster on his wall as a kid – eventually led to “I Feel for You.” And, I mean, just look at her.
  6. Dionne Warwick More classy than sexy, but her sophistication was palpable on all those Bacharach/David hits. Docked a notch for the Psychic Friends Network.
  7. Fela Kuti He had 27 wives, which is a handful, but he was also an important activist who ran for president of Nigeria and put out a song denouncing ITT, which I think we can all get behind. One million people attended his funeral in 1997.
  8. Kate Bush I love the video for “Wuthering Heights” where she acts like she’s speed-skating. Love her hair, too.
  9. Carole King Another example of spectacular hair, but Carole's image was

    always more of a best friend than a sexpot. I am more inclined to defer to the wisdom of Beyonce than to the wisdom of Neil Sedaka.  
  10. New York Dolls They were pretty much the same band as the Go-Go’s, weren’t they? An exciting five-member group that managed to be both startlingly new and definitive of its times, but sadly burned out way before we got tired of them. Plus both bands took the stage in women’s clothing. But the Go-Go’s looked a lot better doing it.
  11. Mary J. Blige Like a lot of these performers, Mary became an actor when her singing career started to fade. I think it says a lot about her that her justifiably Oscar-nominated turn in Mudbound was as a matriarch.
  12. Foo Fighters Do people still think these guitar bands are sexy? They seem more nerdy than anything to me.
  13. Devo They’re through being cool.
  14. Rage Against the Machine I get the sense that these boys would be slightly offended if you referred to them as sexy. Maybe not Zach.
  15. Todd Rundgren Rundgren was part of that Seventies series of rock stars who were basically faceless; if anyone remembers what he looked like, it’s probably because he was so homely.
  16. Iron Maiden Ugh.

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