This morning I was flipping through channels when the new Matchbox Twenty video on VH1 caught my eye. The video had a cool look and so I suspended my channel surfing and watched. Ultimately, it wasn’t as clever as I thought it might be, but I was glad I stopped to watch it because immediately following it was Ben Lee’s “Love Me Like the World Is Ending.”
This is a really good song. As good if not better than Matchbox Twenty’s “How Far We’ve Come” which is getting massive radio airplay right now. Which made me wonder: Would Ben Lee be more successful in this country if he were more attractive? His new album Ripe is one of his best and his previous, Awake Is the New Sleep, is exceptional. Both are full of alternative pop songs that are radio-friendly and ear-friendly. It’s just that, well, Ben isn’t necessarily eye-friendly.
I’m not saying that we can’t be genuinely influenced by quality music and can look beyond looks to see the real artist -- us Ben Lee fans do that every time we see the Ripe cover photo.
But what if he looked more like Rob Thomas?
Or Rooney’s Robert Carmine?
Or Chris Carrabba?
Or Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars?
Or that guy from Fallout Boy?
Or any other pretty-boy pop music icon?
Would he be getting more air time? Would he have more opportunities for promotion? Would we give him more notice? Given the superficial nature of our American culture, I wouldn’t put it past us.