Would Virgin Records have inked 30 Seconds to Mars to a contract if actor Jared Leto hadn't been in the band? Fat chance is the knee-jerk response, but there's actually another possibility. Leto, of course, is a luscious bit of young-man flesh with cross-gender appeal and clearly, any record-company suit worth his lapels would be proud to have a hunk like that on his roster. Executives might have gravitated toward the band anyway, however, based on its most recent disc, A Beautiful Lie. Not that it's any good; the CD overflows with faux aggression that's as forgettable as it is tedious. But labels release albums by mediocre groups all the time, and Mars represents the sort of mediocrity that gets rewarded all too often. In other words, Leto is blessed with both cinematic fame and musical lameness.
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