Study Suggests That Musicians Are Mostly Judged by Their Looks

A study carried out by University College London is suggesting that our musical tastes may be determined more by aesthetics than musical ability.

Study Suggests That Musicians Are Mostly Judged by Their Looks
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A study carried out by University College London is suggesting that our musical tastes may be determined more by aesthetics than musical ability. As SupaJam reports, Chia-Jung Tsay, who administered the experiment, has issued the following statement about the findings:

"People consistently report that sound is the most important source of information in evaluating performance in music," Tsay said, "However, the findings demonstrate that people actually depend primarily on visual information when making judgments about music performance."

Tsay's study put together a group of musical novices and experts, and over a series of tests asked them to predict the winners of several prestigious competitions. Participants were asked to predict the winner using either audio-only recordings, videos without audio, or videos without sound. The correct prediction rate for those watching without sound was higher than those watching with audio. For those listening to audio only, the prediction rate was significantly worse.

"Both experts and novices appear to be surprised by their own data, and experts in particular reported a severe lack of confidence in their judgment when they were assigned to the video-only recordings, not knowing that their approximations of the actual outcomes would be superior under such constrained conditions."

In response to the research, we here at Ultimate-Guitar raise the following question: how does your hypothesis account for this man being one of the most enduring faces of rock music in the last 40 years?

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    fatgleeson
    Tell that to Lemmy
    vikkyvik
    It doesn't say "good looks". Just "looks". Besides, the article really should just say "Study Suggests That People Are Mostly Judged by Their Looks".
    UncleBluck
    I think the "our" refers to the majority, not "all". And by majority I mean the rather large masses that are happy to ingest the corporate pop garbage being shoved down their throats.....
    tobbenygard
    The article is perhaps misleading with regards to the original purpose of the study, it was carried out to measure how much the passion and energy any given performer had when playing and how that affects the evaluation. The performers were all playing classical piano, and when you start reaching the absolute top of that scene the playing is if not totally very close to perfection, so the only thing that differs between performers is the stage presence (to what extent a classical piano player can have direct contact with the audience in the sense of your everyday rock band).
    vikingman369
    and not the metal-heads, who hate anything that looks emo or "non metal"? i'm not defending metalcore or nu metal or any kind of emo music at all, but the fact still remains that metal-heads and rockers fall into this judgmental category just the same
    von gelb
    I am a "metal-head" but I never judged metalcore bands or emo because of how they look. Nevertheless, I still think most of it should not be called "metal".
    TomWhaley
    Tell that to a guy who plays in a metal band and looks like he plays in a metal band...
    Kriggs
    This was never a problem until MTV showed up.
    DickHardwood
    Screw MTV. Would Elvis be famous if he wasn't good looking? In fact, how many UGLY people have you seen in hugely successful bands?
    Kriggs
    Mick Jagger, Most of Pink Floyd & AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne with Sabbath, All of the Sex Pistols, Lemmy, I can go on and on (Im not even gonna start with the bands from the 60's). When MTV came on the scene, the amount of pretty bands sky rocketed.
    DickHardwood
    Mick Jagger was good looking when he was young (Keith actually looks better now though), Ozzy was definitely not ugly, girls creamed over Sid Vicious, Lemmy doesn't count, being God and all that, and again, regular looking people at worst, definitely not ugly.
    Sparda3
    Let's face it. Iron Maiden are a bunch of ugly dudes. Same with Black Sabbath, Slayer, Metallica...They were all popular because of their music. Now I like Katy Perry, but she wouldn't be as famous if it weren't for her breasts and face to go along with her songs. Lady Gaga? Her image is what's keeping her above ground.
    GhostPlayground
    Not exactly. Image doesn't always have to mean looks, oftentimes it can mean production/promotion/backstory or a variety of other factors. Black Sabbath is famous because they are credited with inventing heavy metal, not necessarily because they are the best at creating heavy metal. Metallica didn't become famous until the story of their bassist being crushed by the band's tour bus became widespread. Iron Maiden became famous because of Bruce Dickinson's operatic voice which, and please don't hate me for saying this, is actually fairly cheesy when compared to their previous singer (whom they played pretty much the exact same style with, yet failed to achieve success). Acid Bath didn't achieve a following until their bassist died, The police didn't become truly successful until Sting started singing fairly creepy love songs (every breath you take. don't stand so close to me) that are still unique and debated only for their lyrical content, the entire grunge scene didn't become famous until Kurt Cobain created a unique image for it, and so on. Be honest, how often have you really gotten into a band that didn't have some sort of image attached to it? If you truly didn't care about image, then you would probably enjoy an album like this. Popol Vuh-Hosianna Mantra
    Kueller917
    Image is a bit of a subjective thing and changes with time. There have always been the "pretty" popstars along with the rock icons and other genres. Also, Nirvana was pretty unappealing with appearance but MTV sort of capitalized on that and suddenly made that the trendy appearance. The image isn't always about being a made up doll. Lemmy sure isn't the most gorgeous human alive but you can't deny his appearance is iconic. Clothes, guitar styles, stage setup, etc. Being in music is very visual as well as aural.
    Yabba Who
    I have an important message to deliver to all the cute people all over the world. If you're out there and you're cute, maybe you're beautiful. I just want to tell you somethin' there's more of us ugly mother****ers than you, hey-y, so watch out. ― Frank Zappa
    TryTheKetchup
    our musical tastes may be determined more by aesthetics than musical ability. U DON'T SAY
    jmako
    Hey now, don't sass the brilliant minds working hard over at ...University.....College Ok never mind, that sounds made up
    SKB
    I wouldn't start slagging UCL....It's a very very good university.
    Fourgiven
    point and case: Deap Vally. if you have not see them, dear god you need to see them
    Mouloudo
    I'd like to think girls are mainly responsible for that... as long as you sing a lame song about love, and look good, you have a huge following, but if you're ugly and you sing your heart out about bad or serious things in life, you'll get men to follow you, and that's a fact that men are a more reliable fanbase, they dont switch to the next boy band every 6 months...
    Kriggs
    I dont wanna sound stupid but which man was UG referring to as one of the most enduring faces of rock music in the last 40 years?
    jamie_hough
    Assuming Jagger... possibly Lemmy... maybe Ozzy - the fact its hard to pinpoint does mean that, at least in the rock category, this study doesn't mean all that much.
    rXp
    Wait.... I'm the only one listening to music ? I mean, there is some bands that I really like, I know what the cover of the albums are, the songs and the lyrics but not the faces or what the group looks like.
    archangels
    The study was in regards to live performances, not studio recordings.
    dewitt
    Also, from what I remember about the article I read about this a couple days ago, it was to do with live classical music performance competitions. On that level of competition, most players will be more than competent, but there's not a whole lot of room given for improvisation, due to the judging tactics. So, when everybody basically sounds the same, it comes down to picking the one who exudes the most confidence and has the best appearance. Their charisma is what sets them apart, not necessarily their looks or their music. The study was kind of weird in the first place, but this article is misleading about what the study found.
    Mouloudo
    well I'm happy to say that I listen to music rather than watch it, looks are meant to arouse teenage girls, but once you passed that stage of fanboyism, you start to just listen to your mp3 or whatever rather than spend the sunday watching MTV or Vevo crap
    Silveroon009
    Lol @ people assuming aesthetics = pretty boy bands, you do realize Lemmy has an image (crafted or otherwise) that has worked perfectly for his style of music right? Same with Ozzy and most of the guys that have been mentioned. Good God, Hendrix is practically a synonim with psychedelia, and Pink Floyd/Roger Water's stadium shows are HUGELY influenced by their aesthetic.
    Anjohl
    Definitely true for girls. Ask any girl who their favorite bands are, and 99/100 times, they like the band because they have a hot singer.
    nashmanz
    I could care less about what you present as an "image". If the music sucks it doesn't matter.
    BenMSmith
    Hasnt this been common knowledge for decades now!? Im sure a study didnt have to be done.
    Jacques Nel
    I don't like seeing the bands I like, I'm usually like "Wait, that was you?"
    RCA1186
    "how does your hypothesis account for this man being one of the most enduring faces of rock music in the last 40 years?" Only picture posted is of young woman with headphones..
    kill it
    This data is obvious but I think it's usually non musicians that seem to "hear with their eyes". Most pop stars are attractive, however many of them don't write their own material or even sing live. Surprisingly many of the fans know this and still pay to just go look at them.
    Deflection
    This is absolutely irrelevant to a site like UG. This is most likely research on mainstream pop music. As other have pointed out, most legendary rock stars are ugly as hell. In fact, the prettier they are, the worse the musician, in my opinion.
    throwinshapes45
    Guthrie Govan is one ugly mofo and looks like a guitar-shredding hippie AND has bad teeth, but it doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best guitarists in the world right now.
    HeretiK538
    "Participants were asked to predict the winner using either audio-only recordings, videos without audio, or videos without sound." Anyone else spot something very wrong here?