I have to give credit to Blake Shelton. Behold this quote from the interview crowning him 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive:
So what went through his mind when he first heard the news? “That y’all must be running out of people,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “Like, Wow, we’re down to somebody who is somewhat symmetrical.”
Because (a) that’s funny, and (b) I suspect that’s what everyone said. Let me share with you a snippet from our conversation here at GFY HQ when this news broke:
H: BLAKE SHELTON is the Sexiest Man Alive? In what universe? There are sexier dads at the kids’ school.
J: That’s the rumor.
H: Is he even the sexiest guy west of Las Vegas?
J: I mean, Blake Shelton isn’t, like, GROSS. [Somewhere, Blake Shelton is like, “THANKS.”]
H: This reminds me of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “The most powerful men east of the 170 and north of the 101 and parts of the 2.” That is the portion of America of which Blake Shelton MIGHT be the sexiest.
J: I’m not technically sure he’s even the sexiest guy on The Voice. No disrespect to Blake, who is FINE. But this does feel… underwhelming.
H: It’s not MOST ADEQUATE MAN ALIVE.
J: I guess he is tall.
H: Sexiest Man Alive Who Is Also Involved With Gwen Stefani is a very narrow window.
H: So many men are alive.
H: Sterling K Brown is alive.
H: Justin Hartley? ALIVE.
J: Lainey thought it was going to be Mark Wahlberg, who is also alive. Although he is much less sexy to me than either of those two people, and I’d definitely bang Blake before Marky Mark, who is currently working with Mel Gibson and who also is a terrible person in his own right.
H: COLIN FIRTH IS ALIVE.
J: Lainey ALSO thought it might be Justin Timberlake. I’d ALSO bang Blake before I banged JT. I think. Well, I might do JT just for the STORY. I might do him for N*SYNC. But in terms of who I think would be a more suitable life-partner, I think Blake is the better choice. Gosh, maybe this isn’t so bad, after all.
H: I actually sort of like Blake.
J: Me too.
So, congrats, Blake Shelton! You’ve earned the coveted GFY Not So Bad After All Man of the Year for 2017! You ARE somewhat symmetrical. And we do sort of like you! In 2017, that does feel like a bit of a victory.
I think part of the problem for People, actually, is that a lot of otherwise sexy celebrities are not that into being People’s Sexiest Man Alive anymore, and therefore won’t agree to the whole dog and pony show — Ryan Gosling, for instance, famously turned it down. I get it. In 2017, if you think you’re a Real Actor Who Is Above The PR Game, you’re not going to let People come over and interview you about what you find sexiest in a woman while you wear an old tee shirt and no shoes. And People has already chosen in recent memory a lot of dudes who might have actually been better this year than in the year they got the nod (as you’ll see in the slideshow). And because People is a business that wants to make money, they traditionally — especially over the last ten years — give this cover to someone kind of mainstream, who they suspect most of their audience is going to be at least vaguely hot for, someone who is into playing a really traditional PR game. Like, Sexiest Man Alive is never going to be Adam Driver (although I personally find him very sexy. He seems so sad!) or Rami Malek, because it just doesn’t make sense for those men as brands. They’re not going to give it to Prince Harry, even though that cover would sell, because they won’t get the interview. And they don’t seem to want to give it to Idris Elba despite Idris’s VAST EXPERIENCE in being extremely sexy. So we’re working with a smaller pool of men here than you might imagine. Ergo: Not So Bad, Mostly Symmetrical Blake Shelton.
Speaking of Idris, it’s also noteworthy that the only non-white guy to get the nod prior to The Rock in 2016 was Denzel Washington in 1996,who was indeed very sexy then, and honestly could have repeated this year, given that he is STILL sexy and also has a movie coming out. Thirty-two years and thirty white guys? That’s embarrassing, you guys, and it’s also boring. Honestly, is Blake Shelton sexier than Idris Elba? I am 100% sure that Blake Shelton, who we kind of like, would absolutely agree that he is not.
All that being said: I’ve rounded up the last ten years of covers for your perusal above — they are indeed a veritable sea of dudes with similar faces wearing tee shirts — but if you want to look at all of them throughout time, People has a great gallery. Some of them are…QUESTIONABLE. For every reasonable Matthew Mcconaughey, you’ve got poor Jude Law not even getting the entire cover to himself (Star Jones’s wedding shoved him over to the side, which is kind of perfect; Bachelor Bob OF ALL PEOPLE did the same thing to Johnny Depp). Certainly do not miss Nick Nolte, in the required grey tee. In perfect fairness, of course, Nick Nolte DID used to be hot — all of which goes to say: Stay vigilant, men of Hollywood. ANYTHING could happen to your faces.