Music matters more than musicians’ looks

By Josh Aguirre | Multimedia Editor

Music is a pretty awesome thing. We listen to it when we are sad to elevate our mood. We listen to it when we are trying to relax. We listen to it when we are walking to class so we can add a little background music to our days. The beautiful thing about music is that everyone can enjoy it in one way or another and can even create it.

We have no boundaries set on music. No matter how you look, how you speak or what you do, you can make and/or enjoy music. Some are better at it than others, but everyone has the capability of creating it. What I find interesting is that when pursuing a career in music, success goes far beyond actual musical talent. I’ve started to notice a trend in the music industry of artists typically appearing a certain way. Is this a coincidence, or do you need to have a specific appearance to become successful in the music industry?

I can recall several stories from people on shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice” speaking out about not receiving a record deal because they didn’t quite meet the “look” the label was searching for. I find this interesting, especially with all of the movements of people being told to love themselves as they are and to be unapologetically themselves. Nevertheless, we place standards on how you have to look to be successful in presenting music.

I find it funny when people say things like, “Oh they don’t look like they can sing” or “I didn’t expect them to be able to sing.” Why is it that we qualify musical talent by how we perceive a person’s physical attributes? Shows like “The Voice” do a phenomenal job of counteracting this with their “blind auditions.” These auditions allow artists to be judged solely on their talent rather than their appearance. It sets an example for how we, as consumers, should look at music. Rather than fawning over the most attractive artists, we should be listening to what they have to say through their music and how they so eloquently weave these messages into the frameworks of their art.

I’m speaking about this because there are a multitude of artists posting their material on YouTube, Instagram, Soundcloud and other social media platforms. These artists are phenomenal musicians and vocalists. I’d go as far as to say that some of them are even better than some of the artists at the top of the charts today, yet they get no other recognition other than a few likes and subscriptions. I can’t help but question this. A lot of them don’t match the exact image of the stereotypical attractive person, but why does that discredit their musical ability?

I think we, as a society, have placed so much pressure on our appearances that we feed into the stigma that appearance is all that matters. We pursue things we think are beautiful to the eye and completely lose sight of the important part of music: the sound and message. It creates a harmful environment for artists to create in, because their unique sounds and even more unique stories aren’t being shared with the world solely because of their appearance. In order for this to change we, as consumers of music, need to adjust our mindsets on musicians and listen to the quality of the music, rather than looking for the quality of the artist’s look.