The Act We Act – five actors who have made some half-decent albums
There seems to be a point in many musicians careers where they think their talent can be transposed to other art forms. Some work (Ronnie Wood is a pretty good painter for example, Mos Def is a great actor, love him in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy), some are disastrous (Madge in Swept Away is marriage-endingly bad; Adam Levine from Maroon 5 must wake up in a cold sweat when he think about his brief acting career).
Equally, some actors have tried their hand as musicians…many are cringe-inducing (hello Bruce Willis!). But some are not half-bad at all, though some are good only for their huge kitsch value). Here’s five I like lots.
5. Zooey Deschanel
As well as her fabulous acting career and Manic Pixie Dream Girl status, she has now made six albums with the superb M Ward, as She & Him. They released three albums, the majority of songs all written by Zooey, plus one covers album and two Christmas records. Her songs are strong, her vocals chilled and wistful, and the music sun-dappled perfect pop.
4. Hugh Laurie
Hard to believe that Bertie Wooster or the supremely daft George from Blackadder would evolve to be such a brilliant serious actor (he is terrifying in The Night Manager). It’s even more bizarre that he would make two excellent blues albums. I saw him at the Cambridge Festival in 2011, he was great. I love Let Them Talk, a really good album. Who knew?
3. William Shatner
Who know is James T Kirk really believes he is a talented musician….I have always thought his tongue was firmly shoved to the wall of his cheek. But his albums are huge fun, over sung by an actor who has made his career for over acting. His version of Pulp’s Common People will always bring a smile to my face, no matter how hard the world may feel sometimes.
2. David Hasselhoff
Ok, the songs are not great. But he is MASSIVE still in Germany and iconic – his song Looking For Freedom soundtracked the fall of the Berlin Wall. And on New Year’s Eve 1989, Hasselhoff hovered in a bucket crane over a crowd of thousands who had gathered to celebrate the collapse of the Berlin Wall, playing to around half a million Berliners. He is forever associated with the fall of the Wall, a genius bit of self-promotion. And his recent album of covers is much better than you might expect - and it's called Party Your Hasselhoff - genius!
1. Scarlet Johannsson
Ghost World and Lost In Translation are truly magnificent films, but her music career could have been even better. She’s my favourite actor turned singer of them all. Her albums with Pete Yorn are truly fantastic and Bad Dreams is one of favourite songs of the last 10 years.