But you gotta admit, Lewis was a pretty unlikely sex symbol when he first hit it big in the early '80s. With his wrinkled brow and aw-shucks demeanor, he seemed more like a cable guy than a pop star, as if he should be installing MTV, rather than starring on it.
And that's what we dug about him.
Remember when pop stars actually looked like us? When marginally attractive guys and gals somehow became sex symbols? It was a great moment in the lives of all average joes when Ric Ocasek married a supermodel. The message was loud and clear: If you've got talent, you might be able to shag really hot chicks, even if you look like an arachnid.
Remember ABBA? The blonde was kinda hot, in a Suzanne Sommers-on-diet-pills sorta way, but the brunette looked like Grace Slick after a decade of snorting cocaine for breakfast. As for the two dudes, with their fields of 40-Year-Old Virgin chest hair: yikes.
And please, don't even get us started on Mr. Mister.
Sure, all these folks were considered sexy for their time, but that was only after they became famous. Their talent and notoriety are what made them attractive. If you ran into Pat Benatar at a Taco Bell in 1978, you wouldn't have been drooling on your bell-bottoms. But a few years later, after "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," every man was fantasizing about making it with her, even if she did look like a cross between a gym teacher and a Pomeranian.
And that instilled hope in all of us with bad hair, messed-up teeth, or a cheeseburger fetish (we're looking at you, Meat Loaf).
But that hope has since been beaten over the head and buried in the backyard. Nowadays, there are virtually no average-looking pop stars, because you can no longer get a deal if you're not a hottie. The beautiful people have taken over. We're screwed.
Now, don't get us wrong. We don't have a problem with Ryan Cabrera, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, or Justin Timberlake. They're all good, worthy pop stars -- Okay, maybe not Cabrera and his Sonic the Hedgehog coif, but you see where we're coming from.
But what bugs us is that now popsters are exclusively hot -- there's no modern-day equivalent of Tommy Tutone. You've gotta have sex appeal before you become famous. If you're a real knockout with a modicum of talent, the odds are good that some label will take a chance on you. But if you've got great pipes and look like Natalie from The Facts of Life, you'd better resign yourself to karaoke night at the local Harry Buffalo.
Just think of all the great popsters who would never, ever get a deal these days. There would be no Cyndi Lauper, no Men at Work, and -- shudder to think -- no Eddie Money. Do you want to live in a world without "Take Me Home Tonight"? Didn't think so.
Sure, there are a few exceptions, like American Idol favorites Ruben "Are you gonna eat that?" Studdard and the gimpy Clay Aiken, who looks like E.T.'s cousin. But remember, record execs didn't discover these guys and groom them into stardom. The public advocated for them on American Idol, voting for singing ability over camera-ready good looks. Those guys had to go outside the record industry to make it, because no label was interested in them when they were struggling singers looking for a deal.
It's no surprise that those two managed to win over the masses. People root for folks they can identify with, and most of us can relate to a couple of average-looking goofballs.
So c'mon, we say to the powers that be in the record industry, give fugly popsters another chance. We need more homely stars. They make fame seem achievable. And they let us know that talent trumps the size of one's nose. No matter how hard we try, we're never gonna look like Nick Lachey. But give us a perm and glue a muskrat to our upper lip, and we could pass for John Oates. And that's something to believe in.
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