Perhaps you already knew that Michael Jackson’s sparkly glove was purportedly hiding the onset of his vitiligo. But here are eight more facts about trademark muso looks which reveal that some supposedly eccentric aesthetics actually hide a totally understandable purpose.

Nelly and the Band-Aid

Nelly

We all thought Nelly was a bit of a prat when he repeatedly appeared with a Band-Aid on his cheekbone – it’s sort of like an ‘accidental’ swipe of paint across a hardworkin’ tradie’s face.

The truth is, Nelly initially wore the Band-Aid after he scratched his face playing basketball, and planned to remove it when the wound healed. But then his long-time rapper mate City Spud – also guest vocalist on Nelly’s hit Ride wit Me – was jailed for armed robbery, and it became a symbol of solidarity. “I know when he sees me on TV and sees me wearing this Band-Aid, he knows I’m wearing it for him,” Nelly reportedly told Entertainment Weekly.

Bono and the sunnies

Bono

Did you think Bono has just been an inside-sunnies dork this whole time? Well the man’s got glaucoma, you nit. In 2014 the U2 frontman revealed to Graham Norton that he has suffered from the ocular condition for 20 years, and it makes his eyes very sensitive to light. Johnny Depp has no excuse, though.

Ariana Grande and the ponytail

Ariana Grande

Pop starlet Ariana Grande’s natural hair is gorgeously curly, but she primarily wears long, sleek extensions up in a high pony. However it isn’t because she hates her wild lid; on Facebook in 2014 she explained her consistent hairdo is the result of damaged hair. (PS, who even are these people giving her a “hard time”?!)

Gregory Porter and the velvet cap balaclava

Gregory Porter

Caramel-voiced soul man Gregory Porter describes his brimmed cap and head stocking as his “jazz hat”, and something of a “security blanket”. But the distinctive look originally had a medical purpose. “I’ve had some surgery on my skin, so this has been my look for a little while, and will continue to be for a while longer,” he told jazzweekly.com in 2012. “People recognise me by it now. It is what it is.”

Steven Tyler and the mic-stand scarf

Steven Tyler

Aerosmith are energetic live performers, no bandmember moreso than vocalist Steven Tyler, who is hailed as the originator of the mic-stand scarf trend (which has been mimicked by Wiz Khalifa, Lenny Kravitz and Florence Welch, among others). Tyler told its story to the now defunct Blender Magazine in 2007, and fleshed it out in his autobiography, saying his favourite Indian headscarf got all ripped up during a show, so he hung it on the stand for good luck and it quickly became his mobile pharmacy: “Some of them had little pockets sewn in, and I’d weight them with Quaaludes and Tuinals,” he said. “That way I wouldn’t run out.”

Slash and the top hat

Slash

In a 2010 interview with Associated Press, Slash revealed that he’s super shy. After everyone stopped wetting their trousers with incredulous laughter, the poor rock lord added that his hat curbs stage anxiety: “You can pull it down, pull your hair down over your face and just sort of hide behind that. I’ve always been a little nervous in front of crowds, and that made it – made me – feel a lot more comfortable.”

Janelle Monae and the tux

Janelle Monae

This one’s a little more ideological than practical, but it’s absolutely awesome. Revered vocalist and actress Janelle Monae loves a tux, but even when wearing gowns she always opts for black and white. She explained this choice while accepting the Young Gifted and Black Award at 2012’s Black Girls Rock! awards ceremony: “When I started my musical career I was a maid; I used to clean houses,” she said. “My mother was a proud janitor, my step-father, who raised me like his very own, worked at the post office and my father was a trash man. They all wore uniforms. And that’s why I stand here today in my black and white, and I wear my uniform to honour them.”

Blake Shelton and the cowboy hat

Blake Shelton

This one’s easy: he wears the hat as a signal, so you know to hit the mute button before he starts singing. (Just kidding: Blake doesn’t wear the hat any more.)

[Header image of vitiligo-affected hand via Wikiwand.]