A Beautiful Lie
By: Eric Greenwood
Jared Leto is good at one thing: looking like a sullen, androgynous golem. Ok, ok, two things: the androgynous golem thing and looking believable when his face has been pulverized, as it was in Fight Club. Leto's claim to fame is still his role as longhaired, doe-eyed rebel Jordan Catalano on the '90's teen-angst drama, My So Called Life. Girls would inexplicably wet themselves every time he was on screen in that show. I can't begrudge the man that power. I can, however, begrudge the man his opportunistic music. In the long tradition of Bruce Willis' Return of Bruno disease, actors can't help but feel as though their inner-rock star needs a massive commercial outlet, no matter how gratuitously bereft of talent the vanity project may be. I can think of nary an established actor who has successfully made the transformation into respectable musician, although countless have tried.
Don Johnson attempted to cash in on his Miami Vice cool with a solo album so ponderously dull the only chick he could land in the aftermath was Barbra Streisand (and we're talking Nuts-era Barbra Streisand, not Funny Girl). The aforementioned Bruce Willis coasted on his Moonlighting fame with an inconceivably uncool foray into R&B and soul with Return of Bruno. Now, if Bruce meant for it to be a golden-throated homage to the kitschy narcissism of William Shatner's '70's-era stink bombs, then he's a subversive genius. But those are some credibility points I'm not ready to ascribe to the man who starred in Seagram's Wine Cooler commercials without further proof.
Eddie Murphy actually scored a hit with the jaunty "Party All the Time" in 1985 (thanks to Rick James' songwriting and no thanks to Murphy's stiff, lifeless falsetto), but the ego-driven desire to replicate his comedic bad-boy status in the rock star world translated into the kind of humor Murphy didn't normally practice: unwitting self-deprecation. Even Keanu Reeves, who has proven to be an unsinkable actor, despite lacking any semblance of flair or panache, has nose-dived in his rock-star alter ego, Dogstar. I realize fame fucks up your sense perception, but are these actors really as clueless as they seem? As much as I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, they just keep proving my cynicism right. Does Russell Crowe actually – in his heart of hearts – believe women show up to see 30 Odd Foot Grunt because the music moves them?
Oh, yeah, so Jared Leto's band, 30 Seconds to Mars, isn't any good. I mean, did you honestly think it would be? It's an overproduced nu-metal washout with hackneyed emo pretensions. There are zero hooks and there's nothing even arguably interesting about it. I know it's ridiculously easy to mock the pretty boy actor trying to be a heartfelt musician, but when the boundless egoism just begs for attention, it takes a stronger man than I to try to be objective. Excerpts from 30 Seconds to Mars' tour rider speak for themselves: 1 bag of Tofurkey; Twelve (12) assorted protein bars; Eight (8) Odwalla Juices (wellness rocks), etc. Parentheses not mine. It actually says that. Yeah, wellness rocks harder than your band. What kind of rock star wants to be well? Over in England, Pete Doherty's injecting heroin into sleeping fangirls when he's scheduled to be in court for numerous drug busts while Jared Leto is in his tour bus gobbling tofurkey and drinking bottled water? Something just doesn't add up.