The Musicians With The Most Eyebrow Raising Pieces Of Body Art

Many musicians have talents and creative energy that require outlets music just can’t provide. Some are writers, penning books of turgid prose to match their affected prosody. Some act, and can be seen on both big or small screens with a bit part here or a cameo role there. Then there are those that feel the need to express themselves through the static visual medium of paint. And what greater canvas is there than that of the living canvas, the human body?

Yes, it seems like every musician is getting inked up these days. Hell, 45 million Americans of all walks of life now have some form of permanent body art on their person. But, as any fateful walk on along the beach these days will tell you, not every tattoo is a winner. It’s hard to say that any work of art is bad, per se since taste is subjective. One man’s Rothko on his pec can be another woman’s velvet Elvis on her wrist.

In this spirit, join us as we chronicle some of the most, um, “eyebrow raising” pieces of body art on some of our favorite musical acts.


Sound and Vision: An 'American Idol' Wish List– Who Should Replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler?

You couldn’t pay me to be an American Idol bigwig right now. The show is about to face its greatest challenge since the 2008 battle of the Davids (Cook and Archuleta).

The producers and the Fox network already have to worry about sagging ratings (the average viewership in season 11 dropped 23 percent to below 20 million for the first time in nine years, and the show fell from No. 1 for the season”to No. 2”for the first time since 2005), not to mention less commercially viable Idols and external competition from The Voice, The X Factor, and pretty much any reality show that promises to make a nobody a star.

Now, the producers have to deal with pleasing Mariah Carey, who has signed on as a judge next season, replacing either Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler, both of whom left after two years in order to focus full-time on their music careers (and in the case of Lopez, her “acting” career, too).

I once interviewed Carey for an Us Weekly cover story, and I found her to be warm, intelligent and surprisingly funny, but she’s a diva through and through. (She actually walked into the living room of her New York City hotel suite cradling her miniature dog!) Idol will reportedly pay her a very diva-like sum of between $12 and $17 million a season (a hefty and not altogether worthwhile expense, considering that Carey is well past her pop heyday), and I don’t even want to think about her list of perks and demands.

Meanwhile, there are murmurings that Randy Jackson, the last remaining original judge, currently in contract negotiations, might be moving from the judge’s table into more of a mentoring role, in an attempt to revamp the show for season 12, launching in January of 2013. Sadly, that restructuring doesn’t extend to Ryan Seacrest, the inexplicably still-highly employable host, who has signed up for another two years at a pay rate of $15 million per season. Is it too late to invite ex-judge Ellen DeGeneres back for the job they should have offered her in the first place?


Sound and Vision: Wanted: An Out and Proud Gay Or Lesbian Chart Phenomenon!

Gays and lesbians have come a long way in entertainment since the days when George Michael had to have faith and pretend to want a woman in the “Father Figure” video to sell millions of albums. Although there’s no telling whether Queen would have been as successful in the ’70s and early ’80s had Freddie Mercury definitively outed himself as a lower-case queen, for the most part, today’s closeted male superstars don’t have to wait until they are about to succumb to an AIDS-related illness to publicly acknowledge their sexuality (like Rock Hudson did)”or not (like Liberace and, well, Mercury).

That doesn’t mean coming out of the closet still won’t have a negative effect on the bankability of gay music stars. This is why most of them still choose to wait until they don’t have too much to lose. Elton John, Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken, Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes and Michael all did it after their blockbuster days were over.

Though Hayes continues to release solo records that earn critical raves, it’s been years since he was A-list on the charts. John is a superstar for life, but his most notable post-coming out success (the 33 million-selling worldwide No. 1 single “Candle in the Wind ’97”) was with a song he sang to a dearly departed princess. How gay! Rufus Wainwright, despite critical plaudits, has never had gold album in the US.

Then there is Adam Lambert, the perfect example of how to be an out and gay pop star. He has a vociferous fan base, but his commercial performance isn’t commensurate with his level of fan devotion. He should be selling as many singles as Justin Bieber, but his last one, “Better Than I Know Myself,” was a chart dud (No. 76 on Billboard’s Hot 100), resulting in Trespassing, his sophomore album, being pushed back from March to a May 15 release date. Do we blame it on a weak single, or a pop constituency that’s still skittish about fully embracing a proudly out singer? (more…)

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Jack White releases copies of new single via balloon

If you happen to see a deflated blue balloon in your trees with a record attached to it, then you are likely the proud recipient of Jack White’s newest single, Freedom at 21. In true Willy Wonka fashion, the team at Third Man Records released 1,000 copies of the new track via balloons from their headquarters in Nashville. The flexi discs have instructions for finders to submit photos and discovery location. We like to imagine the older gent in Huntsville, Alabama, rocking out. Try it.

Helena Bonham Carter stars in new Rufus Wainwright video

HBC channels her sexually frustrated librarian in the moody new video for Rufus Wainwright’s Out of the Game. And Rufus, well he channels a bunch of personalities: glam cowboy, blonde lady-dude and Kurt Cobain. Enjoy the angst below.

The Bad

Weird Al Yankovic suing Sony Music

As they say, life imitates an imitation of art (ed. note: no one says that). Music parody master Weird Al Yankovic once wrote a Rage Against the Machine parody called I’ll Sue Ya, and he’s finally making good on his threat. Yankovic filed a suit against Sony Music for $5 million, alleging that the label underpaid his royalties. Read all about the beef here.

Whitney Houston’s autopsy report released

It looks like a combination of cocaine, alcohol and heart disease led to Whitney Houston’s accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub on February 11. The late singer’s autopsy report also revealed traces of Xanax, marijuana, Flexeril and Benadryl. In conclusion, DON’T DO DRUGS, KIDS.

The Ugly

Boy George gets poked in the eye

There are probably many folks out there who have wanted to pop Boy George in the eye at some point. Some bloke actually did this weekend during a club scuffle, forcing George’s makeup artist to get creative. Check out his one-eyed swagger here.

The Fray sissify the national anthem

People weren’t too keen on The Fray’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner for the NCAA championships. Apparently adding lots of jangling acoustic guitar parts and plaintive vocals can really lame up a war ballad. Judge for yourself by watching their performance below.


Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

  • If only’s name could make as much sense as this charity.
  • Way to ruin Christmas, Lady Gaga impersonators.
  • Florence proves she’s quite the singer, even without her machine.
  • Boy George should know that it’s hard to find any fault with royalty.

Can Music Move Us Away From Discrimination?

It is clear that the world is changing, and it seems like most of these changes are for the better. New technology and trends have enabled us to do things we never thought possible.  And, even more importantly, opportunities are available to people, no matter what race, gender, sexuality, or religion they happen to be. But how is this change reflected in the world of music? It seems that while some genres of music are taking great leaps in the right direction, other genres are still digging in their heels.

Country singer Chely Wright, one of the few country artists who is openly gay, recently married her girlfriend Lauren Blitzer in Connecticut. And while this was one of the happiest days of Wright’s life, many of her fans did not see it this way. In fact, since Wright came out in 2010, she has been harassed and threatened by people who used to support her.  Country fans have historically been more conservative than other music fans, but for Wright it was a shock that her fan base seemingly disappeared after she opened about her sexuality.