Ah, the actor or actress who feels the need to record an album of songs to further along their career. You gotta love ‘em. It’s been going on for decades, and I’m pretty sure there will be plenty more Hollywood icons who try the rock star turn before my time on this planet is up. Now, not all of these attempts are bad, nor are they atrocious. Some actors have pulled the pop star life off decently, and made some good music to boot. But obviously, these examples are not as prevalent as the ones that just outright suck. At any rate, here’s a fine mix of the good and the bad, entertaining through and through.
“Jackpot (Bruno’s Bop),” Bruce Willis (The Return of Bruno)
Along with his flick “Hudson Hawk,” it seems like Bruce Willis has never been able to live down his musical career. Pardon me, but I happen to enjoy both. Now, Bruce has long since washed his hands of both affairs, but this self-penned tune on an album filled mainly with covers shows that Willis can hold his own decently in the rockin’ bar band category. The dude can play a fine harmonica, and overall the tune boogies with ease. Granted, most of this album had that undeniably stinky ‘80s production gloss on it (thanks, Robert Kraft), but it’s still fun to pull out and hear every now and then. So much better than anything by Cybill Shepherd.
“Don’t Fade Away,” Milla Jovovich
(The Divine Comedy)
Actress/supermodel Milla Jovovich cranked out her debut album in the early ‘90s, and scored pretty well with the single “Gentlemen Who Fell.” But the rest of the album was just as good. If you need proof that sometimes a pretty face can make good music, then check out both the album and this cut from it. I’ve never been sure how you would really categorize Jovovich’s brand of music. It’s pop, but there’s something Old Worldish about it. Definitely not New Age. At any rate, Milla’s album stands as one of the most interesting and best of the ‘90s overall.
Anything by William Shatner, William Shatner
You knew this was coming, right? While it’s easy to pick the twin crown jewels from Shatner’s bizarre The Transformed Man album – those being his covers of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” – we also can’t forget his stupendous reimagining of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” or his Pricleline.com commercial rendition of the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin’.” Each of these tracks (and so many more) are so off-the-chart bewildering, and are made even more bizarre by the fact that Bill himself knows how bad/good they are and embraces that fact with open arms. So Shatner gets his own little special section here, as it’s too hard to just pick one track that is better than any of the others.
“Sunshine Superman,” Mel Torme (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head)
You want the facts? Okay, here goes: FACT – I think The Velvet Fog’s version of this Donovan classic is far better than the original. There’s a Vegas dynamic to it that just really brings the song full-circle. Donovan was always a bit too precocious, anyway. But Mel baby takes this tune and really makes it hip for the older generation that was still getting accustomed to the sexual revolution. Mel made psychedelic pop groovy, yet “safe” for those not truly hip enough to drop acid and get into the whole counterculture mindset. Mel should’ve rocked out more often.
“Heartbeat,” Don Johnson (Heartbeat)
There’s never been any excuse for this travesty of a song and its accompanying album. I remember at the time that my older sister was absolutely smitten with this garbage just because she was absolutely smitten with Donnie on “Miami Vice.” This is pure ‘80s schlock with nary a redeeming moment to be found. Then again, my sister also thought Michael Bolton was really great as well, so there you go. Thanks for the misery, Don.
“Fish and Chips,” Philip Michael Thomas (Living the Book of My Life)
If we’re going to have one, we might as well have the other. Whereas Don Johnson actually scored a hit with “Heartbeat,” music fans were not as enamored with his acting buddy Philip Michael Thomas, or Thomas’ tunes. The epitome of Thomas’ craptastic musical career has to be this tune that features the following smokin’ lyrics: “I want filet mignon, fish and chips won't do / Got to have me something special / Girl, my mind's on you.'' Oy. No wonder people stayed far away from shit this naff.
“Party All the Time,” Eddie Murphy (How Could It Be)
I have come to the conclusion that the only reason this song became a hit was that Murphy was so shit-hot at the time that nothing he could do would be dismissed by his fans. Wow, how times have changed. Personally, I never liked this song then, and I think it still stinks now. You could basically just throw the entire album on here as an entry, but we won’t give it that much thought, apart from the fact that it included such turds as “C-O-N Confused” and “My God is Color Blind.” Yeah, Eddie. You tell ‘em.
“Proud Mary,” Leonard Nimoy
(The New World of Leonard Nimoy)
Even more than his buddy William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy took to the recording studio like a real madman and cranked out albums on a regular basis. There’s something really bizarre about Leonard’s singing voice, though. It almost sounds as if he’s 90 years old and gumming the hell out of each and every syllable. Take this track, for instance. He really gets every nuance of John Fogerty down perfectly, including the pronunciation of the word “burning” as “boining.” In fact, Leonard seems to really emphasize that word just so we don’t miss it. Nimoy could have been a fab guest on any of Andy Williams’ TV programs.
“Hi Guys,” Ted Knight (Hi Guys)
Was there really a huge demand for fans of Ted Knight to hear him do an entire album of bad cover tunes and “originals” like this disaster? If so, I want to know what kinds of drugs these people were on. “Hi Guys” is just bad comedy through and through, with Knight reading off verses about walking into a bar and mistaking transvestites for actual women, getting it on with a chick and not knowing she’s married until the husband bursts into the room, and other such nausea-inducing scenarios, all wrapped up with the stupid chorus of “Hi, guys!” as Knight “sings” it nervously in a comedic fashion. Only problem is, it isn’t funny. Shame on you, Ted.
“BBQ,” Steven Seagal (Mojo Priest)
Holy God, why? Maybe it’s due to everyone finally deciding that Steven Segal does, in fact, suck mightily that led the actor to become a “bluesman” and release albums that will easily break your eardrums. Here we have “BBQ,” in which Seagal pretty much just recites the lyrics and picks up his paltry check. Every now and then some chick steps up to the mic and starts wailing away. Who could blame her? By the way, this faboo release also includes such gems as “Alligator Ass” and “Gunfire in a Juke Joint.”
“Buddha + Christ At Large,” Jeff Bridges
(Be Here Soon)
In which The Dude seems to be trying to channel Jim Morrison and easily equals the dead troubadour in pomp and sheer buffoonery. Why did Jeff Bridges record an album? You got me. Like Steven Segal’s disaster, Bridges doesn’t sing these songs as much as he just kinda pushes them out of his mouth and a band props him up the best they can. Obviously, Jeff realized that music wasn’t his greatest strength and rightfully returned to acting after shoveling this shit onto the sidewalk.
“It’s So Simple,” Corey Feldman’s Truth Movement (Still Searching for Soul)
Wow. Just wow. Hearing this album is like watching a former popular actor just completely lose his shit and attempt suicide over and over. Oh wait, that’s kinda what this is. By 1999, Corey Feldman was…nowhere, man, and this, his first release of his own brand of music is hilariously depressing. On this song, Corey shreds his throat while “singing.” It sounds like he was kicked in the balls really hard and blood is now congealing into his mouth. Fun times. Other tracks, like “Spiraling Downward Part 2” (with its refrains of “I can’t take it anymore!”) and “De-Pressed,” are also a sonic treat. Jesus, not even Vanilla Ice went this berserker. A true classic meltdown captured for posterity.
“(So U Wanna Be) Hardcore,” Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq-Fu: Da Return)
Why is this guy constantly allowed to make albums? Why was he ever allowed to make films? I have no answers to either of those questions, but I can tell you this: Shaq is not “hardcore.” I know, that’s obvious, but it’s like Slim Goodbody doing a song called “I’m a Gangsta Pimp.” Far worthier genuine rap artists have fallen into obscurity while this bozo continues to go into the studio and crank out crapola such as this. There is no justice, your honor!
“Feelzgood,” Jaded (Confessions)
Good old Tina Yothers. She escaped “Family Ties” to do…this. Dyed her hair black and sang in a raspy voice while some faceless band backed her with a generic version of Hollywood pop. No one cared beyond the novelty factor, and Jaded hasn’t been heard from since (that’s eight years’ time, kids). This song coulda kicked it hard on The Disney Channel, but of course Yothers was going for real cred. Too bad. Had she gone the Disney route, she might have been raking in mini fortunes. That faux Goth look and black hair dye must have all gone to her head and rotted her brain cells, however.
“Da Drama,” Brian Austin Green (One Stop Carnival)
More like One Stop Disaster. The chump from “Beverly Hills 90210” thought it would be great to make a hip-hop album and show the world that he was more than just a squishy-faced pinup for the teenage crowd. So he released this album and everyone rightfully laughed at him for it. Basically, you could put any song from the album in this slot, but hearing B.A.G. try to rap about “da drama” is pretty damn painful. Of course, you’re free to take your pick from other offerings like “Style Iz It,” “”Beauty and Da Beats,” or “Mind and Da Body,” each with their own swell “urban” misspellings. Thank Jebus no one cared to hear this goofball’s “music.”