Rock Of Ages: We test the 'How Old Do I Look?' App

You may have seen the results of Microsoft’s latest project flooding your Facebook and Twitter feeds. The ‘How Old Am I App?’ uses facial recognition technology and guesses your age and gender. We picked a handful of rock stars completely at random and put the app to the test…


Our test got off to a wobbly start when the #HowOldRobot thought Sleeping With Sirens frontman Kellin Quinn was 43 – 14 years older than his actual age. To his right, Pierce The Veil’s Vic Fuentes came in at 27. He’ll be happy with that, considering he’s 32 – but wearing a vest and backwards baseball cap will knock the years off. Next up, we uploaded a photo of AC/DC’s Angus Young. Perhaps the algorithms became starstruck and farted out an answer that was out by 11 years. Same with Guns N’ Roses vocalist Axl Rose. Sure, with good stage lighting and a Californian lifestyle, he does look younger than his years– but we’re not sure how a moustache made the computer think this 53-year-old male was a woman. Next up: Iggy Pop and Paul Weller. The app’s stab at Iggy’s age was only three years out, but thought that the 56-year-old Paul Weller was in fact born in 1937. Imagine him showing this app to his mates in the pub, because we can’t.

Maybe it was Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams’ scraped hairstyle that led the app to think she was 31 – she’s 26. And even with dark sunglasses and thick, lustrous locks, there was no escaping the fact that Kiss frontman Paul Stanley looks like a man approaching pension age. He’s actually 63. We’re not sure why Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong is preparing himself for bad news, though – he fooled Bill Gates’ nerd gang into thinking he was five years young than he is. The app also fared fairly well when faced with Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Jack White, who are 35 and 39 respectively. The app was probably trying to make amends for mistaking Paul Weller for a man who can remember the Blitz and writes to the council on a daily basis to complain about the bins.

In the final phase of our scientific research, we wanted to see how Metallica would do. According to the app, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich look just a few years older than they really are (they’re both 51), while the perpetually youthful Kirk Hammett (52) and Robert Trujillo (50) tricked the computer. Brody Dalle will be delighted with being mistaken for a 28-year-old (she’s 36) while Joan Jett – who was recently inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame – tricked Microsoft into thinking she was 29. She’s actually 56 – so that’s money well spent. And finally, we threw the app a curveball by uploading the artwork for Papa Roach’s 2002 album, Lovehatetragedy. It correctly guessed that the Vacaville quartet’s hard rocking baby was just a year old. Well done, boffins. Finally, a correct answer.

THE SCORE: 1 / 18

This app is in its early stages, so we appreciate mistakes will be made. While it correctly guessed the age of a plastic toy, it also came pretty close to estimating the ages of many of our subjects. However, the 33-year gap between Paul Weller and Joan Jett (who are both the same age) and confusing the moustachioed Axl Rose for a woman means that the app’s development still has a long way to go.

Why not upset your relatives by uploading their face onto Hours of fun for some of the family.

**Photo credits: **

Kellin Quinn / Vic Fuentes (Getty) Angus Young (Getty Images Entertainment) Axl Rose (FilmMagic) Hayley Williams (WireImage) Brody Dalle (Redferns) Billie Joe Armstrong (Getty Images Entertainment) Iggy Pop / Paul Weller (Getty Images Entertainment) Paul Stanley (WireImage) Win Butler / Jack White (Getty Images Entertainment) Joan Jett (WireImage) Metallica (WireImage)

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.