Musicians have always loved the Jesus look, mainly because it obviates the need to cut your hair and shave — which, if you’re more interested in sex, drugs, and/or rock ‘n’ roll than practicalities, is just the ticket. But while plenty of musicians over the years have gone for the messianic style, only a few have pulled it off with panache, and this got us thinking — who’s the most convincing Jesus-alike in music? In celebration of Christ’s birthday, we’ve attempted to determine just that. We started out with field of ten contenders, and we’re ranking them from bottom to top in terms of their Jesus Quotient. Read on to find out who’s the messiah and who’s just a very naughty boy. (Disclaimer: this is all a bit of fun, so please don’t take it all too seriously/take offense/condemn us to eternal damnation.)
Up until last week, this “Hasidic rapper” would have been a contender. But he’s an early scratching now that the beard’s gone. Sorry, Matthew Miller, no JQ for you.
Jesus Quotient (JQ): Disqualified
If Jesus had lived to have a mid-life crisis, he might have looked something like Ellis, whose gradual metamorphosis from cleanish-cut-although-admittedly-somewhat-odd Dirty Three violinist to bearded Grinderman/Bad Seeds wildman was one of the more curious ongoing spectacles of the 2000s. Ellis’s beard needs its own ZIP code these days, and is probably a bit too wild for messianic purposes — we’re not sure we could ever see Jesus gobbing up in the air and letting it land on his face, either.
Part of Cornell’s post-Scream rehabilitation has involved the singer regrowing his hair and rejoining Soundgarden. It’s like the last 20 years never happened! Cornell certainly struck a pretty convincing Jesus Christ pose back in the day, although even then his moustache was more Kirk Hammett than Son of God, and in any case, we can’t imagine that anyone receiving divine guidance would have thought it was a good idea to make a record with Timbaland.
We’re big fans of religious kitsch, and so it was that we jumped on the opportunity to buy a wind-up Jesus doll a few years back. Impressively, the doll came as black or white Jesus, depending on personal taste, and the black version that we decided on was a dead ringer for TV on the Radio’s multi-instrumentalist and resident sonic visionary Kyp Malone. We’re looking forward to winding it up again this Christmas.
He definitely had a messiah complex, what with his flowing locks and the famous crucifix pose he struck for photographer Joel Brodsky’s photo “Young Lion” in 1967. The problem is that by the time he’d affected a suitable beard, he’d also devolved from a charismatic youthful superstar into a slobbering alcoholic. You definitely lose points for such things.
The Nuge has been doing his best Jesus impression since the 1970s, and neither age nor an ongoing descent into self-parodic lunacy have diminished his determination to look as much like the Messiah as possible. His pro-hunting, anti-everything-else politics are a big hit with the Christian right, too. However, his recent penchant for tying up his hair under a cowboy hat — along with his ongoing love for toting AK-47s on stage — mean his JQ isn’t as high as it might once have been.
Hair: check. Beard: check. Charisma: check. Ability to turn the other cheek repeatedly when attacked by Courtney Love: check. Grohl certainly ticks all the boxes. He’s the great all-rounder of rock ‘n’ roll Jesusdom — he does everything well, but there are others who do other things better. Like, for instance…
As quiet an achiever in the Jesus stakes as he is a quiet achiever in the music world, Sam Beam — better known as Iron & Wine — has unassumingly staked his claim for top place with consistent and diligent beard and hair growth since 2004. These days, they’re in exceptional shape, and they place Beam on the podium for our rankings. In a less Jesus-heavy profession, he’d walk into top spot. But there are the true messiah-alikes still to come.
Liverpool’s most famous peacenik was a pioneer in the looking-like-Jesus stakes. His band might have been bigger than Jesus, but Lennon wasn’t above aping JC’s style, either with his beard/flowing mane combination or his well-intentioned but somewhat wooly political rhetoric.
But wait, even though Lennon scores 10/10, we’ve got someone who can trump him in the Jesus stakes. Step forward, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar genius John Frusciante. Those photos speak for themselves, really, don’t they?