March 15, 2006

What is it about male pop stars?

My mate Jerzy sent me a link to this article a couple of weeks ago, and it highlights an observation I made whilst listening to the radio this weekend.

I have always thought that, in the most part, women find masculine males more attractive and effeminate men a bit of a turn-off. Thus, I have never really understood why women find the majority of male popstars so attractive when most of them have floaty, feminine voices. Granted, most of them are visually attractive, but that surely can't be the only inflencing factor. Take actors, for example. The most attractive ones all seem to be quite stereotypically manly (George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Brad Pitt). Why doesn't the same apply to pop stars?


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. I don't get this at all either! For the most part, women seem to be attracted to men who exhibit manly characteristics (as that article shows) which is hardly a big surprise. Yet many famous people seem to somewhat buck this trend. It perplexes me too…

    15 Mar 2006, 19:17

  2. Perhaps another case of self-selection. Do the masculine voices out there aspire to be singers. It has a reputation as an effeminate profession, and perhaps they are put off by the lack of role models and by the majority of experiences with the popular repertoire being that of songs unsuitable for their voices.

    29 Mar 2006, 22:39

  3. Stuart B

    Sexual attraction is a very complex issue. To boil it down to "women like manly men" is an oversimplification even if we accept what "manly" means. From your examples (actors) it is clear we don't.

    Seeing as your definition of a "real man" diverges so markedly from what I consider "logical", you'll forgive me for giving you my own opinion. Most "real" men are exactly that: real. They are, by definition, happy with who they are (even if they aren't happy with their lot). If asked to cast themselves in a role, they would undoubtedly choose themselves as subject.

    Clearly, by this definition, actors make very poor "real" men. They spend too much time trying to think and behave like somebody else (and for that matter too much time in makeup and wardrobe trying to look like somebody else). A "real" man could never be bothered with such intense excercises in empathy. Indeed, this lack of concern with how others operate is what gives real men their uncaring reputation ("He doesn't understand me!").

    Instead real men are committed to their own goals, even if hopeless. They are driven. It is this self-assured, single-mindedness, this confidence, that women (and other men) really admire. Undoubtedly, for women wishing to raise children in an uncertain world, such certainty must appear highly attractive.

    Indeed if actors are attractive it is because their single mindedness has led them to success. As stars they represent the pinnacle of achievement in their profession. Their status is proof of their single mindedness, proof that underneath, they are "real".

    When you look at it this way you see why all stars, pop or movie or football are attractive. They are our most visible success stories, our most obvious heros, our ultimate "real".

    This of course begs the question as to what it takes to be a success in music. Nowadays this very much a multivariate expression. None the less, vocal talent still plays a part. This begs a further question: "what is vocal talent?" If we accept that "talent" means an ability above and beyond the norm, and we accept that most folk seem to have trouble hitting high notes, it becomes obvious that we should associate high registers with vocal talent. There is also the issue of emotive impact. High registers seem better suited to expressing the emotions that women like their songs to dwell upon. Why? Maybe it's because most mammalian distress calls are in higher registers (to travel further). In any case, few would disagree a vocalist must be able to emote to be considered talented.

    To summarise : high register => vocal talent => increased chance of success => success => desirability

    12 Apr 2006, 11:25


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