Pretty Girls only need apply

Would Janis Joplin or Mama Cass last 2 seconds in the music business today? Not that Janis didn’t look great in some of her pictures but she was definitely not known for being a hotty. How about Joni Mitchell ? Mama Cass was just plain big. Can you find a female artist with reasonable standing on the charts today who does not have an extremely high FMQ*?

Let’s review:
Susan Tadeschi (closest thing to Janis I can find)
Joss Stone (somewhat Janis like and barely legal)

Nora Jones
Shawn Colvin
Fiona Apple has had a little fun with ‘the image’ but she is still sucked in
Liz Phair is no better although from her lyrics you might expect her to be.
Michelle Branch (a little over the top, non?)


The only plus size female singer I can think of is Wynona but when she is photographed for an album they make her look totally hot. Besides, she sings country so that doesn’t exactly count. Carnie Wilson is the only big rock-type singer I can think of (and she was more folk than rock) and she went and had her stomach stapled.

Now there may have been some efforts to minimize Cass Eliot’s bulk but for the most part people just let her be the singer she was and it was enough to portray her as carefree and happy.

Near as I can tell, if you ain’t pretty and sexy you don’t get to be in the business. Just look at what Stevie Nicks has done to herself. For the love of God the woman is my age but she knows perfectly well she wouldn’t get far on her old material if she looked 50.

The only exceptions to the rule I could find were Tracy Chapman who is neither beautiful nor willing to pose like a tart and Bonnie Raitt who refuses to prostitute her natural beauty and who has more talent her in little finger than most musicians combined but was not included on Rolling Stones top 100 guitarists (sexist assholes! Oddly enough, Joni Mitchell was)

Am I missing something? Am I wrong? Please tell me I’m wrong.

*FMQ – fuck me quotient based on beauty and photographic portrayal

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6 Responses to Pretty Girls only need apply

  1. Jessica says:

    GREAT post…wish I could say you were wrong.

  2. Just Tama says:

    Oh, how I WISH I could say, “Oh, you’re wrong, and here’s five names off the top of my head…”But you’re not. I haven’t actually watched the show, but I’m willing to bet that anybody without a high FMQ doesn’t get past the first auditions for American Idol, non?

  3. wrnglrjan says:

    I’ve seen some AI contestants with a pretty low FMQ, although, come to think of it, mostly only male ones. And then they don’t generally win. It’s the public making the choice about that, not the producers so much.There’s a definite double-standard about such things, IMO. Everywhere, too. You see it all the time on TV — an “unattractive” guy with a hot woman. Other than Roseanne, I can’t really think of any less than hotties that have been given big TV roles.Then again I saw an interview with the female cop from Third Watch (now cancelled) a couple of years back and she said her character was currently the ONLY woman in a major television role with both a career and a family (including children). So what does that say?

  4. Anonymous says:

    19 year old male thinks Dido and Beyonce are pretty hot.Most talented and famous women with low FMQ’s are comedians, and I can’t think of any hot female comedians either.

  5. Chris Johnson says:

    As a 50-year old dad, who does appreciate looking at beautiful women, I agree 100%. You are not missing something. You are not wrong. FMQ seems like a very important thing.I’m using a variety of Internet music sites (e.g., to find new music, and when I find a new female singer with a high-FMQ porfolio, my estimation of their artistic ability usually drops 10 points on the spot. I’m a big Bonnie Raitt fan, so I get lots of recommendations for female singers by these services. For instance, I was lead here by a Liz Phair recording, actually — and as you mentioned, even despite her “down with the establishment” lyrics and reasonably high reputation as an artist, she’s got several high FMQ photoshoots to her credit. I’m terribly disappointed.

  6. Chris Johnson says:

    Postscript: And as a musician (played bass and guitar in a band in my 20s), I agree with your remark about Rolling Stone. Bonnie Raitt not only has more musical talent than most musicians, but she has more guitar-playing chops than (without even looking) most of the guitarists on that top 100 list. I’ve seen her enough times up close to know she makes it look easy when she’s playing things most can’t even manage. Joni Mitchell? Give me a break.

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