In honor of Fat Tuesday (see also: Mardi Grad, Carnival, Shrove Tuesday), I’ve decided to compile a list of the Top 10 Fat People in Music. Before you cite me for a politically incorrect party foul, let it be known that I am not making fun of the following artists. It should also be pointed out that most of the artists making today’s list are not ashamed–and are even proud–of carrying around a few extra pounds.
When compared to skinny-hip-shakin’-Elvis, fat-Elvis isn’t even in the same league. But let’s face it, even an Elvis not operating at 100% is better than most artists on their best day (and aren’t Kings supposed to be fat anyway?). Without fat-Elvis we’d also never have all the side-burn, jumpsuit-wearing imitators that make a living embracing Elvis’ late-career girth.
(left: Some may say that Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrington’s tummy is more famous than Tim Harrington himself.)
9. Damien Abraham
Damian Abraham, the somewhat chunky frontman of the Canadian punk band, Fucked Up, both frightens and fascinates me. He has also threatened to light Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger’s hair on fire if his band wins a Juno Award this year. Showing off his round, hairy chest on stage is enough to make this list, the latter anecdote is what we call “brownie points.”
8. The Fat Boys
Old-school hip-hop has many big boys to chose from: Afrika Bambaataa, KRS-One, De La Soul, Yo! MTV Raps’ Dr. Dre, Chubb Rock, MC Serch, and even Run-DMC’s Joseph Simmons got round with age. The Fat Boys, who may not boast the hits or popularity of the artists mentioned above, make the list just because their name was always so literal. The Fat Boys were–well–fat boys!
7. Fat Joe
For the same reason mentioned above Fat Joe makes the cut. His nom de plume is not just a clever nickname.
6. Tim Harrington
If you’ve ever seen Les Savy Fav live, than I’m sure you’ve seen the beach ball-sized tummy of out-of-his-mind, off-his-rocker frontman, Tim Harrington. At last year’s Pitchfork Festival, Harrington smeared his stomach in mud and began scripting his band’s initials on it. If he was petite–say like Prince–do you think I would have been able to make out “LSF” fifty yards away from the stage?
5. Beth Ditto
Call Beth Ditto “fat” and she’ll wear it like a badge. The lead singer of The Gossip doesn’t have a problem with flaunting her stuff either, as she’s done during many live performances and magazine photo spreads. Do a quick Google search if you don’t believe me.
I wanted to squeeze M.I.A. on this list before she sheds all of her post baby weight. Any time you can get a genre bending, Grammy and Oscar nominated MC (who’s willing to perform pregnant) on any type of list–you do it.
3. Frank Black
Major label A&R people are probably still mystified that the Pixies’ Frank Black–who looks like a retired professional wrestler–is still more of a rock star than most of the artists on their roster.
2. Aretha Franklin
I kind of like the fact that Aretha Franklin gets a little larger every time you see her. I’m convinced that if she was thinner her voice wouldn’t be nearly as powerful.
1. Notorious B.I.G.
Some have called the Notorious B.I.G. the greatest rapper of all-time. I still believe KRS-One holds that distinction, but because I wasn’t sure if KRS-One was fat enough to make this list, Biggie Smalls takes home the #1 spot. He also embraced his fatness more than the Blastmaster. If Biggie Smalls was svelte like LL Cool J, his stage name and most of his lyrics wouldn’t have the same ring: I like it when you call me Big Poppa.