In honor of Michael Cera’s unexpected solo album (which is a pretty good folk album that you can stream on his Bandcamp site), we’re dedicating our list to five “memorable” moments when actors tried their hand at music. Some of them are memorable for good reasons and others, well, let’s just say we appreciate the effort and for giving us something to talk about.
Sultry on screen and at the mic, Scarlett Johansson had dabbled in music (including performing a song for “Lost in Translation”) before, but she made a lot of people scratch their heads when she announced her intentions to release an album. But when her debut solo album,, Anywhere I Lay My Head, essentially a Tom Waits tribute, was released in 2008, she was lavished with praise for her voice and reimagination of songs by the legendary American singer-songwriter. Johansson has released a second record (2009’s Break Up with Peter Yorn), but she’s limited her singing career to mostly backup vocals and the occasional song on a soundtrack. We eagerly await her next Tribute album.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage
Former WWF World Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage wasn’t the first, and surely not the last, professional wrestler to record a song or album. The list of wrestlers turned singers is incredibly long and includes everyone from Hulk Hogan to Vince McMahon, to Shawn Michaels, to John Cena‘s rap album. Even two different ring announcers put out albums. So what makes Randy Savage’s Be A Man stand out from all of that? Well, the “Macho Man” was one of the most intense and crazy personalities in the old days of the WWF and WCW. On Be A Man, the “Macho Man” brings that eccentricity to his rap album. Unlike most music released by wrestlers, this album has no affiliation with any wrestling organization, nor is it some kind of anti-bullying or anti-drug campaign. It really is the “Macho Man” doing his own thing. Savage’s album is one of the most entertaining things you’ll hear. All you have to do is imagine a whole rap album delivered completely in character, just like so many of his infamous interviews.
Sometime within the last couple of years, Macaulay Culkin decided a pizza themed Velvet Underground cover band would be a good idea. I can’t really argue. I do love pizza and the Velvet Underground, and this idea seemed silly enough to be awesome. Opinions are mixed on the band: some see it as silly fun while others find it an offensive parody of one of the most influential bands of its time. The Pizza Underground were booed off the stage multiple times in England. I guess they couldn’t find humour in classics like “Take a Bite of the Wild Slice” and “All Pizza Parties”.
In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix announced he was retiring from acting to pursue a rap music career. We found out a few years later that wasn’t exactly true, as he was working on a mocumentary I’m Still Here. However, there’s plenty of footage of Phoenix doing the rap thing, and the whole “retirement” was actually pretty entertaining. Phoenix also recorded the soundtrack for the Johnny Cash biopic I Walk The Line, proving himself to be incredibly versatile, not only as an actor but also as a musician.
No list of actors-turned-musicians would be complete without Eddie Murphy. In 1985, he released his debut music album, How Could It Be, which was produced by Rick James and included songs written by Stevie Wonder and Rick James. This album, though, wasn’t that great, and Murphy’s voice is memorable for the wrong reasons. But he did have this track that he will be rightfully or wrongfully remembered for. He is about to release a second album that is more R&B and which may better suit his voice. To be honest, we’re excited to hear it, and we’ve included his latest track “Temporary” below.
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