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Unless you’re Susan Boyle, being a pop star is all about turning people on. From cowgirl chic to thug loverman, there are many ways to seduce the eyes as well as the ears. Here are artists who own a particular brand of hotness.
Club Sexy: Ke$ha
Although barely old enough to legally buy that bottle of Jack she brushes her teeth with in the smash “Tik Tok,” Ke$ha sounds like a veteran of the grimy Hollywood club scene, rhyming with authority about getting crunk and boys trying to touch her junk.
Freak Sexy: Lady Gaga
The Fame Monster has the fashion sense of an acid-gobbling alien genius. Whether onstage at the Nokia Theatre or meeting the Queen of England, the androgynous Lady Gaga dresses to drop jaws. And then there’s that wonderful rumor about the little smokie between her legs, lending yet another meaning to the line “bluffin’ with my muffin’.”
Glam Sexy: Adam Lambert
He worked his gayness so fabulously on American Idol the media dubbed him Glambert—though he ultimately proved too much for the American electorate. Did he flame out with that big kiss and faux blowjob at the American Music Awards? Not exactly: His album For Your Entertainment recently jumped from No. 35 to No. 21 on the Billboard 200, after debuting at No. 3 nine weeks earlier.
Hirsute Sexy: Devendra Banhart
Full facial hair hasn’t been this trendy since the release of Abbey Road. My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, and Ray LaMontagne all sport badass beards, so what makes Banhart’s whiskers the sexiest? They’ve tickled Natalie Portman.
Thug Sexy: Lil Wayne
Hip-hop’s hardest-working artist—who is scheduled to be in jail by the time you read this—woos the women with weed-and-syrup-fueled flow, head-to-toe tats, suitcases of cash, and, ah, his “Lollipop,” which won’t be getting licked any time soon, at least not by the kind of shorties Weezy prefers.
Cowgirl Sexy: Miranda Lambert
A brainy, plucky, beautiful blonde, this Nashville rebel keeps it country-real with songs such as the revenge fantasy “Gunpowder & Lead,” the fiery kiss-off “Kerosene” and the cheating song (with a twist) “White Liar.” When not spearheading a revolution in Music City, she drinks and hunts with country-star boyfriend Blake Shelton.
Latina Sexy: Shakira
Sure, Jennifer Lopez has more junk in the trunk, but Shakira’s irrepressible hips do not lie, making many a man howl at the moon every time he clicks on the “She Wolf” video. “My body’s craving,” the Colombian temptress croons, “so feed the hungry.” (Okay, so her English-language lyrics still seem a wee bit lost-in-translation.)
Classy Sexy: Beyoncé
Gorgeous, gifted and scandal-free, Beyoncé is the most graceful pop star of her generation. Whether singing, acting or keeping her marriage with Jay-Z out of the tabloids, the former Destiny’s Child centerpiece does everything with smarts and style.
Indie Sexy: Jenny Lewis
Skinny, white indie-rock boys love them some skinny, white indie-rock girls (go figure), and none is loved as fiercely as Jenny Lewis. Petite and pretty, with the mandatory thick bangs, the singer has such a hold on the hipster set that she got away with covering dad-rock fave “Handle With Care” on her solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat.
Crazy Sexy: Britney Spears
She appears to be back on the sane train, but let’s face it: Part of her allure is knowing that at any moment she might come off the rails. At a show in Tampa last March, attendees could hear her complain, “My pussy was hanging out!” And that’s why we heart her.
Middle-Age Sexy: Madonna
Madonna has been making hits since most of the people on this list were in diapers, but at age 51, she remains sexy enough to bed baseball stars in their prime—yeah, we’re talking about you, A-Rod. Still, Madge is starting to look a bit like Skeletor.
This article appeared in print as "Hotter Than the Rest: Pop stars who own—and re-define—what it means to be sexy."