Bryan Ferry; Elvis Costello; Sting. Who's the coolest?

Three British musicians who were contemporaries during the same musical era All of them of fairly undisputed musical talent, but each with very distinctive styles. They were all frontmen of very successful bands; they all went on to successful solo careers as well; and they are all still around and still touring. However, their musicianship isn’t really what this is about. Rather - which of them is the coolest?

You can define that however you want. It’s pretty subjective. Or maybe it isn’t.

Also: after voting, you can rank them in order of coolness.

I predict Elvis in a landslide, as it should be. Bryan Ferry is second.

Sting is a distant third. He’d be higher up the list if he’d stuck with the Police, but his solo work, while excellent musically, is painfully far from cool.

This is the correct answer.

Love his music, but yeah…I would have been much more likely to have sex while the Police were playing in the background then Russians or Fields of Gold.

Yeah one of those names is not like the others - a category error.

The epitome of superficial coolness, the archetype of inherent coolness, and the least cool musician of the twentieth century.

Everybody has been right so far. Costello is in the top league of songwriters of all time, had one of the coolest backing bands ever and an infallible sense of collaborating with the best and right people. Brian Ferry too is a cool cat and of course a style icon. As much as I loved the Police, Sting solo is mostly a joke, and his persona always appears somehow embarrassing, not cool at all.

I went with Brian Ferry. Partly maybe because I figured Costello would win out, but also because, well, I do think he’s neck-and-neck with Costello, and I do think I’d give him the edge for his work with Roxy Music.

And, Sting. Well, one of my favorite Onion articles summarizes it.

I went with Bryan Ferry. But I think Sting is not as uncool as many people are making him out to be. There’s something cool about how totally genuine he is. I put him in the same category as Phil Collins, someone else who is widely mocked but who I think is cool precisely because he doesn’t really give a shit whether or not people think he’s cool. There’s nothing pretentious or affected about Sting IMO, he’s just doing his thing.

Nevertheless I’d still put him at the bottom of the list.

Before Phil gets bandwagoned…i want to point out there was a brief moment in the 80s where he was a sex symbol. Yup…it happened.

And unlike Sting…one CAN have sex to “In the Air Tonight”.

Edit: Also…Sting is still in great shape. Tours. Appeared with Peter Gabriel on a tour. He’s probably cooler now for being so old but in such great shape then he has since being with The Police.


Pandering earnestness is very different from not giving a shit - it is the total antithesis of cool. Apples and oranges. It’s like asking who’s the tallest actor; Sigorney Weaver, the Rock, or Danny Devito?
And you’re telling us that Danny’s tallness is underrated, perhaps not the tallest but shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

It’s interesting. I literally was thinking about Phil Collins in the past ten minutes mulling over this OP. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’ve been starting to appreciate Phil Collins’ solo work a bit more. I listen to a mix of radio when I drop off and pick up my kids, typically Top 40, modern alternative/indie, and a throwback 80s-ish station. “In the Air Tonight” is a classic for the drum fill that kicks off the end of the song and the 80s gated snare sound that it popularized. But the other day I heard “Take Me Home” and thought to myself, wow…this actually is a really nice song. Love the rhythm track on the TR-707 and -909, the glassy 80s FM electric piano sound, the live drums kicking in… It’s a lovely 80s song. It’s got atmosphere, and it’s got emotion. There’s a lot of solo work of his that I simply do not like (pretty much all his popular covers suck, in my opinion, just bland) but he does his own music well, and he did help shape the soundscape of the 80s. And, of course, as a drummer he is in the top echelon. I may very well have to go back and listen to some of his solo studio albums top to bottom to further refine my opinion.

I went with Bryan Ferry, but with one caveat; it’s early, Brian Eno/Roxy Music Bryan Ferry.

If we’re taking into account their entire lives and works, then yeah, it would be EC, then BF, with Sting disqualified because Sting.

You are talking my era here. Beyond a doubt, Elvis was my fave at the time, and probably remains my fave. His lyrics and melodies are incomparable, and the Attractions insanely good.

But I didn’t interpret “cool” as meaning “whose music was the best.” Elvis was angry. A complete punk. He dressed and performed like an angry nerd.

Bryan Ferry was - pretty much by consensus - the coolest cat around back then. As much as I liked him and Roxy, I couldn’t even quite understand how solid his rep was.

I remember the first time I heard the Police. Think I heard Joe Jackson’s 1st album att he same party. The Police truly brought some cool stuff to po music. But I always thought Sting somewhat of a poseur. Maybe my impression was colored by his role in Quadraphenia, and my thought of his character as Billy Idol lite.

I haven’t voted, and I haven’t looked at any other responses.

I like all three of these guys, and can’t possibly pick.

Joe Jackson would be another contemporary who fits the mould.

Reviewing my answer, I’d imagine I was thinking of hearing the Police’s 2d album in the summer of 79.

Joe Jackson’s music was in the same big category (What the HELL is new wave supposed to be?) But I sure never thought o0f him as “cool.” At least not until Night and Day.

Graham Parker was another of my faves back then. Never understood why he didn’t attain similar fame. Another angry young man.

And you might as well toss Nick Lowe in there as well. After all, he WAS the Jesus of cool! :smiley:

While I too am no huge fan of Sting’s solo output (although the incredible backing band he put together for the “Dream Of The Blue Turtles” tour right after The Police broke up was a mollyfocking “Who’s Who” of virtuoso musical talent from the Modern Jazz world) but frankly, in their prime, The Police were simply in an entirely different leauge, talent, influence AND popularity-wise, from the best years of Elvis Costello & the Attractions OR Roxy Music. It is not even close.

I have seen Sting perform live 6 or 7 different times, Elvis 4 different times (including once opening up for The Police) and Brian Ferry once. All still fine live acts, and making thier music on their own terms, which says something about all of them.

I have no idea why the other two names were chosen to be listed alongside Costello. A complete mismatch.

He’s also 2nd generation (at least) cool. His dad.

Maybe popularity-wise, but talent and influence, I’m not so sure. I love the Police, and Stewart Copeland is in my top three favorite rock drummers (and I will always consider the Police his band, not Sting’s), but I wouldn’t put them in a completely different from Elvis or Roxy otherwise. I think Elvis is the best all-around musician of the bunch.

As far as “Cool” goes, did anyone else see the Guinness Fleadh in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in June '99, with Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker, Shane MacGowan, John Prine, Ben Harper, Dave Alvin, and of course Elvis Costello?

In 1.