Do you ever watch an episode of a TV show from the 90s, see a cameo by a now-famous musician or actor and instantly feel very, very old? This happens to me frequently, I’ll see a fresh prince rerun and feel 100 years old. Thanks to the inception of Netflix and TvLinks in my life, I’m able to revisit any old show my little heart desires. Recently I watched the whole first and only season of the cult-classic ‘My So-Called Life’. It starred the ‘Homeland’ famous Claire Danes as the protagonist, an angst-filled teenager trying to find her way through life and the object of her affection, Jordan Catalano. He was played by Jared Leto, the recent oscar winner of ‘Fight Club’ fame and front man of the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars.
He was a perfect long-haired mystery man of the nineties: He wore plaid almost exclusively, listened to good music and said very little. Seriously, I read an article once that compiled every single word he said in the show and it was comprised of like 17 lines total. He was an enigma and most teenaged girls fell promptly in love with him the minute that the title character uttered ‘I don’t know, I like the way he leans against stuff‘. Not exactly a man of substance to lust after, and you probably have to watch the show, but I swear the way he changed the tapes in his car and looked into the camera would give me chills.
Fast forward twenty years (!!) and Jared Leto is everywhere. He played several strange, critically acclaimed roles and then dropped out of Hollywood to make music with his brother. They started 30 Seconds to Mars and built an impressive following: They’ve sold over 10 million albums worldwide and have a obscenely enthusiastic fan base (I know this from the first hand experience of having bruises on my chest for a week after being in the front row of their Toronto stadium show).
As is evident by his recent return to acting (And an incredible job in the role that won him an oscar the other night, go watch the Dallas Buyers Club, right now), he’s managed to somehow excel within both roles. So few people out there are able to act and make music well, but he has managed to do it in spades. He chooses interesting, challenging roles and plays personal, well-written music, all without compromising his integrity. As someone who struggles to be creative in just one way, I can’t even comprehend it.
As incredible as his acting is, and how beautiful he is to look at (Did you guys see that man bun?! Just when I thought he couldn’t get any more attractive), I’ve always thought his voice was his best asset. From the way he used to softly talk to Angela in My So-Called Life to the way I first heard him belt it out on his debut album, his voice has always been an absolute powerhouse capable of making you feel whatever it is he’s thinking.
My favorite most recent performance by him is a cover of ‘Stay’, a song made famous by a silly pop tart that I personally can’t stand. Just like everything he touches though, he transforms it. He takes it from the anthem of desperation and turns it into a proper, aching ballad. I remember the first time I heard him belt out the opening line I felt the hair on my arm stand up and whispered ‘yikes’ to myself. The second song I’d like to share with you today is one of my favorites from his band, ‘From Yesterday’ off of their sophomore album. It too, showcases his voice and the creativity they put into every detail of their music and videos. And finally, their huge single with an accompanying huge video that displays their worldwide fan base and several teenagers talking about how music has changed them. I would never put myself into a sweaty mosh pit with a bunch of rambunctious kids nowadays, but I can relate to the last girl when she says ‘Some people believe in God, I believe in music. Some people pray, I turn up the radio’. I was at the show the Toronto crowd segment was filmed at, right up front, though I haven’t managed to spot myself in the video just yet.
So please find those 3 performances below, just in case you haven’t seen enough of Jared’s handsome mug all over the TV and interweb the past few days. It’s strange, seeing him act on a TV show from that long ago does make me feel old, but there is something comforting in the fact that 20 years later, the same man can still give me the chills.