Didn’t see this one coming – but probably it’s because I’d already decided back in May/June that Keanu Reeves should be PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2019 which is why I didn’t bother running the prediction feature we do every year here on the site. Even if I did though, I don’t think I would have included John Legend. In retrospect… maybe it was obvious all along. John is now the third coach on The Voice to be named SMA after Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, all within the last decade. So add that to the list of qualifications for the title.
At 40, John is right within range. The average age of all SMAs is 39.88. No SMA has ever been younger than John F Kennedy Jr in 1988 – he was 27 at the time and read older. Nick Jonas, for example, is currently 27 years old. Here’s JFK Jr speaking at the DNC in 1988. The style was different then, sure, but that’s not what 27 looks like anymore in 2019.
Since Tom Cruise in 1990, PEOPLE has not named a Sexiest Man Alive who is in his 20s. The last five have all been 40 or older. Three of the last four SMAs, however, have been men of colour. And this is the first time that PEOPLE has gone back-to-back men of colour with John Legend following Idris Elba in 2018. This is definitely noteworthy – because, of course, your average PEOPLE subscriber is the MiniVan Majority. The thing with John Legend though is that his most famous song, “All of Me”, has been played at every MiniVan Majority wedding for the last six years. They know John Legend …and they definitely know his wife, Chrissy Teigen, who tweeted her reaction:
She was hilarious on Twitter all last night about this.
the sexiest man alive just made me a ham sandwich— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) November 13, 2019
I mention Chrissy because, well, in certain circles, Chrissy is arguably the more famous one between them. Chrissy is the one who brings the spice, the personality, to their brand. I don’t think John would argue with this. In 1993, PEOPLE didn’t do a Sexiest Man Alive; instead it was a Sexiest Couple Alive – Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford. If ever there was a year to bring that back, it would have been this one. Their partnership is pop culture, as evidenced recently when they both covered Vanity Fair last month.
Am I giving Chrissy some credit here for John’s title? Yeah, I think so. John Legend is known for his ballads, for the sensitivity in his music. His image isn’t rough, tough, and broody. Nor is it about taking shirt off all the time (Matthew McConaughey) and chopping some wood or driving around in a muscle car. As corny as this sounds, the muscle that is being acknowledged here is his heart. Yes, he is attractive. Yes, he is talented. But what’s sexiest about him, by this honour, if you want to call it that, is that he’s loving and devoted and we see much of that, perhaps most of it, through Chrissy. And that’s an important takeaway from a feature that’s typically just fluffy, silly fun.
For more on John Legend, PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2019, click here.