Yes, it’s that time of year again when, for one month only, men across the land leave aside their inhibitions and embark on the proud journey of moustache cultivation. Movember is upon us, raising money for a very good cause, and providing laughs for women-folk everywhere. For some, the pursuit of facial furniture elevates them to a higher plain of masculinity, while for others it merely nudges them ever closer to their leather-waistcoated kinship with bands who sing about goblins and agricultural policy.
Either way, the link has never truly been explored between your ability to grow a moustache and your proficiency as a musician. We thought it was high time for a bit of rigorous, credible scientific exploration – something with a bit of substance and academic research to determine once and for all if a person’s follicle growth attributes impacted at all on their ability to grasp higher musical concepts like freeform jazz or anything on Warp Records. Perhaps there’s some hitherto undiscovered chemical released in the brain which makes your fingers move quicker on the fretboard. Or maybe there’s a psychological benefit to resembling a member of Manowar, something which boosts your creativity and sharpens your musical sense. Or, as we fear, maybe there’s no link at all and come December the world will return to its natural aerodynamic state.
Unfortunately, we’re musicians and are therefore not particularly noted for our scientific prowess (unless you count that wispy dude off the telly who used to be in D:Ream and talks at great length about wormholes and particle physics). Nor are we patient enough to wait on the results of such research so we’re going to make a typically ham-fisted attempt at proving any links via the medium of precedent.
Let’s start by taking a look at the history of the moustache in music. Where better to start than the 1980s. Thatcher was in power, the miners were striking, Liverpool FC were conquering all before them and pretty much every male of a certain age (16-80) who could grow a decent ‘tache had done so. Moustaches could be seen everywhere from footballers to politicians, all modelled in an entirely irony-free way. Little did they know their top-lip adornments would soon be the source of much amusement.
Notable culprits here include Lionel Richie, Freddie Mercury and Frank Zappa. Undoubtedly a talented trio, any links between their musical talent and success, and their chosen method of facial topiary, are sadly inconclusive. Despite there being a recent, and rather unexplainable (to someone from that era) rise in popularity of all things 80s, I think most people would struggle to say things were better then. Including moustaches.
What about the 90s? Well, let’s be honest, with the exception of a few die-hards who refused to move on from the halcyon days, this decade was pretty barren for ‘taches. Same goes for the 2000’s too, with one slight caveat being the thin lip-strip favoured by coffee-table schmaltz-meister Craig David. Again, hardly concrete proof of a link.
As Movember has increased in profile and popularity, so has the likelihood of seeing normally right-thinking people with all manner of abominations on their face. Does it prove they are more musically talented? No.
I guess to sum up, there’s a very simple way to tell if a moustache makes you a better musician.
Journalist, PR and multimedia specialist. Write professionally on subjects ranging from musical instruments to industrial technology.