One Writer's Most Profound Musical Man-Crushes

Childish Gambino at House of Blues last month
Childish Gambino at House of Blues last month
Photo by Jim Bricker

The Man Crush. It's what made John Wayne an American icon. When The Duke was riding, it wasn't entirely acceptable for another man to admit an overwhelming fondness for him or his true grit. But, c'mon -- those movie theaters screening his films weren't exactly teeming with women.

Nowadays we men are much freer to acknowledge there's something we admire so deeply about, say, George Clooney. We just wanna hang with him, gabbing over whiskeys and staring deeply into that woman-slaying grin all afternoon.

Look, I'm an old, happily married, hetero male who is entirely comfortable admitting there's something about guys like Humphrey Bogart and Bruce Willis that I find extraordinarily appealing. No shame in my game. And women do this sort of thing all the time -- and have for a while now -- because they're typically not so insecure or foolish as to attach sexuality to every semblance of admiration for someone, male or female. It's nice to see us XYs catching up.

So here are some of my man-crushes of music, which I tried to limit to active artists. Don't even get me started on Jim Morrison and Otis Redding.

CHILDISH GAMBINO Donald Glover's alter ego comes off as perverse and misogynistic, so it would be interesting to know what he'd think of a middle-aged man crushing on him.

He's got a boyishly charming face, he's hilarious and best of all, he's a wordsmith. His rhymes are frequently funny and frequently despicable, which is a quandary for many. I mean, you can't really get behind a lyric like "e.e. cummin' on her face, now that's poetry in motion,..." but you have to admit, it's a lot smarter, and therefore far more interesting, than "skeet skeet."

One Writer's Most Profound Musical Man-Crushes

BILLY JOEL I know the Piano Man is geriatric, but my man-feelings for him started way back in high school. And, although it infuriates me that he has time to run a satellite radio program but not write new music, I still can't help but love the guy.

My wife bought us third-row seats for "The Bridge" tour, nearly 30 years ago. I hand-slapped my rock god as he ran along the edge of the stage singing "You May Be Right." I missed the rest of the song for staring at my palm the next several minutes.

Moments later, during his mike-stand-twirling schtick, the stand slipped from his hands and came crashing down on my wife's head. He looked right at her and said, "Are you okay? I'm sorry." Without wondering whether she'd suffered a concussion, I excitedly screamed at her, "Billy Joel just spoke to you!"

JUANES Google Image any five photos of Juanes right now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Case closed.

List continues on the next page.


ADAM LEVINE I blame one person for my man crush on the Maroon 5 singer: Shakira. I like his songs well enough and he cleans up nicely, though I think he's more handsome when he skips shaving a few days.

This is all Shaki's fault because Mrs. Sendejas and I watch The Voice together pretty regularly, and Shakira is the worst coach since Dom Capers. Her thoughts on the performances have all the focused control of a flock of hummingbirds in a hurricane. But she's sizzlingly hot.

As a matter of respect, I try not to gush on about how attractive a woman is when I'm watching TV with the missus. To avoid the urge to blare out anything inappropriate, I started focusing on Levine, who is the second-nicest person to stare at on the show. The more I examined him, the greater the fondness grew.

EZRA KOENIG I'm aware this is the second Free Press Summer Fest 2014 artist to make this odd list. I feel Koenig and Donald Glover are too busy and famous to be too concerned about these harmless admissions, so I'm sure they won't drop for fear of any old creepers stalking them this summer. No worries, Fest-goers.

Koenig's got an adorable little sister, Emma, who is a writer. Combined, they're possibly America's cutest siblings. As for my man-crush, Ezra falls into the camp of indie men defined as "boy next door," guys like Sufjan Stevens and Beirut's Zach Condon. The other camp would be "boy next door without a Norelco," Your Devendra Banharts and Michael Angelakoses of the world. All thoughtful, handsome musicians.

Researching this bit, I found this blog of crush-worthy indie artists. It's hard to argue the list. As far as I'm concerned, it could just be Zooey Deschanel and Regina Spektor.

I noticed, scrolling over each photo, there sure are a lot of brunette lookers in indie-rock. Where are the blondes?

HENRY ROLLINS Like Charles Bronson or Bruce Campbell, Rollins has a badassed-ness about him that is attractive. He's a throwback to that whole "when a man was a man," thing, which is a thing he would probably actually really hate.

Unlike Bronson, he's genuinely handsome. He's a poet and LA Weekly music columnist. He's confident and unafraid to share his worldview. He's got undying allegiance from punk rockers, who are known to turn on their idols --particularly if they take to writing for Vanity Fair. He can deliver a hellacious beatdown, if required. My kinda guy.


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