Most people are more than one thing. You might be awesome at your job, but still have a hobby or interest you excel at. The more freedom we have, the more opportunities we may get to try new things that could lead to a career change. That’s probably why big name actors, who can take a year off if they feel like it, often try their hand at other mediums—like writing, art, or music.
The problem? Having an interest or an opportunity is not the same as having natural talent, nor is it a substitute for the years of practice and discipline that go into mastering any art. Even winning an Oscar is not a reliable sign that someone can sing. It’s not unheard of for a great actor to also be great at singing and dancing, which in the business is called being a “triple threat.” True triple threats, though, are pretty rare. We can’t all be Neil Patrick Harris. More often than not, when actors get the singing bug, the results are somewhere between passable and…less than stellar.
Here are 15 actors who never should have attempted singing careers.
Honorable Mention: Shatner & Nimoy
These two gents get an honorable mention mainly because fans are bitterly divided as to whether their musical stylings are brilliant or ghastly. Both famous for their roles as besties on Star Trek the original series, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy enjoyed long acting careers occasionally interrupted by forays into music (and fat gal photog, but that was mostly a Nimoy thing).
The spoken word of William Shatner may be best exemplified by his now classic cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man”. Oft parodied and even more often debated, it’s either an avant guarde masterpiece or a steaming pile of…spoken word. Judge for yourself. As for Leonard, the “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” is also hotly debated as one of the coolest or uncoolest pre-FILK filker songs ever. The video adds even more fun, with hippie girls and Nimoy with his hilariously shiny Spock hair. Some prefer Nimoy’s cover of “I Walk the Line”. Fans and haters will probably always disagree on the musical prowess of these two sci-fi icons. We have to think that love or hate, they’re definitely worthy of discussion.
15. David Duchovny
Please know that it pains us to have to begin this list in earnest with David Duchovny. Everybody loved The X-Files. We all want Duchovny to succeed in everything he does. And he does a lot. In addition to being an actor, he’s done a little directing. He’s also written some books, given lectures, and appeared on con panels and all the late-night shows. He seems like a swell guy. But singing? No. Just…no.
Watching Duchovny in his first music video was painful. We were embarrassed for him. He didn’t look like a guy who had the music in him all his life and was finally given a chance to rock out. No…he tackled this song with all the passion of a grown man forced to have a tea party with his boss’ 5-year-old daughter. He looked miserable, like he was going through the motions. Duchovny can carry a tune, but that’s where our generousness ends. It would have been better for all concerned for David to eschew music and get back to acting.
14. David Soul
It’s true that Starsky and Hutch has been off the air for a while now. Even the Tobe Hooper made-for-TV classic ‘Salem’s Lot isn’t as popular as it once was. With that in mind, we can’t really blame David Soul for branching out into the world of music. Lots of hot guys did that in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Shaun and David Cassidy both did some singing, even though they were both clearly better at acting. Ditto John Schneider and Tom Wopat. There was no shame in trading boom mics for cardiod vocal microphones if you’ve got the chops for it.
Soul’s barely charting ballad “Don’t Give Up on Us, Baby,” is as sappy and uninspired as most debuts by actors trying something new. Like Duchovny, Soul has a decent voice, but nothing special. Younger viewers may even be familiar with David Soul’s only charting attempt at singing. Owen Wilson sings it (as Hutch) in the 2004 movie Starsky and Hutch, in which original players Paul Michael Glaser (who also directed the action classic The Running Man), and Soul himself appear.
13. Steven Seagal
Some may say it’s a stretch to even call Seagal an “actor.” He didn’t exactly train at The Actor’s Studio. But all snobbery aside, once you appear in 20 or 30 low-budget acting roles, you get to be called an actor regardless of your (lack of) acting prowess. It’s hard to tell whether Seagal is a good guy or a bad guy, in real life at least. On the one hand, he’s played heroes onscreen, spent time as a celebrated stunt man, a PETA activist, and was once married to Kelly LeBrock—one of the most charming and stunning women in the world. At the same time, he’s been nominated for multiple Razzie awards (winning once), has been sued for harassment, assault, and shooting a puppy. Seriously. He’s also friends with a certain Russian dictator you might have seen in the news of late.
Whether you think Seagal is awesome or a total nightmare, we can probably all agree that singing is not really in his wheelhouse. An absurd attempt at a ballad that feels like it was written to assuage one of his accusers, “Girl, It’s Alright” did not chart the Top-40. After two albums, he went back to stunt work.
12. Bruce Willis
Honestly, we were conflicted about this entry, with writers at this website being pretty divided on whether it’s okay to criticize Bruce Willis in any context. Unless you count Die Hard sequels, he doesn’t really make awful movies. Even his TV work has always been solid. Moonlighting reruns do look pretty dated now, but his performance holds up just fine. Even Blind Date is still a hilarious movie. One might ask why someone with such a strong movie career (his Razzie nominations would come later) would even bother branching out into music.
Willis’s debut album The Return of Bruno, was released to…shall we say mixed reviews. Plenty of people hated it, some even mocked it. A few fans didn’t, and it sold just enough for Bruce to justify a follow-up album two years later. “Respect Yourself” is the song most people remember, but his cover of “Under the Boardwalk” is the stand-out best. Listen to it here. We’re glad, though, that he became a huge movie star, so singing wouldn’t look so tempting to him.
11. Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Jamie-Lynn Sigler is probably best known as Tony Soprano’s daughter Meadow on the HBO show The Sopranos. Some fans know her from her spot in a Lonely Island video (the title of which, we won’t mention here) or they praise her portrayal of Hollywood Madame Heidi Fleiss in the TV movie about her life and scandals. Sigler was once paralyzed by Lyme disease, and she announced last year that she was diagnosed with MS just over sixteen years ago. Which all makes this a bit of a bummer.
She makes our list because her debut (and only) album, Here to Heaven was an enormous and embarrassing failure. That’s not us saying it. Sigler herself regrets making the album, and has said as much publicly. The single, “Cry Baby”, can be heard here, though it’s not exactly recommended. She maintains an interest in the music biz, now preferring to collaborate with established artists in projects in which she does not take the lead. We wish her much success, and hope she stays away from microphones…at least for singing.
10. Robert Mitchum
Another person on our list one might think would be impervious to criticism, Robert Mitchum is one of the most revered and respected actors in movie history. Seriously, few actors have been as well-known for playing heavies, villains, and general scary badasses. Mitchum received accolades for performances in such films as Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter, and he remains in AFI’s top 25 male actors of all time. In an early testament to his badassery, Mitchum was arrested for vagrancy at age 14 and put on a chain gang (pause for social commentary), from which he eventually escaped.
We’re not sure what people expected when Robert Mitchum released Robert Mitchum Sings Calipso, but they didn’t like what they got. It’s possible to listen to this objectively horrible cut on YouTube, but we really don’t think you should. His next album came out ten years later and didn’t do much better than the first.
9. Patrick Swayze
Far be it from us to speak ill of the dead—except that we’ve already done it a few times in this list. While we all love Patrick Swayze for admittedly dated romance movies like Ghost and Dirty Dancing, most of us can agree that singing and songwriting are not among his strong suits. The guy from Roadhouse didn’t really need to impress us with vapid, soundtrack-filling ballads like “She’s Like the Wind“. But for whatever reason, he did.
Swayze is what they call a “triple threat”, which is something we at Screen Rant respect and admire. However, having a decent singing voice (or being able to sing and dance at the same time, because wow) and being a pop singer aren’t necessarily the same skill set. And let’s be honest, we all know that what people love most about Patrick Swayze wasn’t his singing, but his famous SNL Chippendale’s audition. Swayze broke the world’s heart when he died of cancer in 2009.
8. Russ Le Roq
What do we really know about Russell Crowe? He was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia. He has an extensive movie career, though most people didn’t remember his name until Gladiator came out and eventually became the most widely sold DVD of its day. Crowe is known for playing tough guys, and for having a real-life temper that has gotten him arrested more than once. He also took some heat for being both an Obama supporter and a fan of the monarchy.
But Crowe’s most embarrassing life event was definitely the time he spent as “Russ Le Roq,” which has got to be one of the most pretentious stage names we’ve ever heard of (and this writer knows a few things about crazy names). He might have told us through song that he wants to be “Just Like Marlon Brando,” but Brando wouldn’t have gone near a sneering ‘80s pop music performance. Crow can sing. We all saw it in Les Miserables. But as we’ve said, having a voice and being a singing star require different abilities.
7. Don Johnson
If you were so inclined, you could make a case that Don Johnson has given nothing of value to the arts. Television shows like Miami Vice and Nash Bridges are little more than dated punch lines these days. Even his early movie roles are laughable, though Revenge of the Stepford Wives is probably more forgettable than mock-worthy. One might even argue that his kids haven’t escaped the Johnson curse of overall suckery. His daughter is the star of the 50 Shades movies, which are hated and mocked by the vast majority of cineastes.
With all that in mind, you might think that a move to music would be a good move for Don Johnson. But no…the album Heartbeat was a lot of tired ‘80s hackery. We’re prepared to cut Johnson a tiny bit of slack, mostly because the ‘80s would have been a terrible time for anyone to try and break into pop music. It was all so awful. Some transgressions, however, cannot be forgiven.
6. Paris Hilton
The argument could be made that the fates have been uncommonly kind to Paris Hilton. Born into fabulous wealth, she grew up physically attractive enough to make a fabulous living in modeling. That essentially means she was paid enormous sums to stand around in expensive clothes looking intense. We must admit, she was pretty dang good at it. But aside from her “acting” cameo in the classic movie Zoolander, Paris Hilton doesn’t have much impressive non-modeling work on her resume. House of Wax, for instance, should have ended with everyone involved to be taken out back and shot…by the ghost of Vincent Price.
Stars are Blind is a pretty good song, for what it is. It’s just a shame they didn’t get someone to sing it who could…you know, sing. It’s not Paris Hilton’s fault that she was thrust into the spotlight by family money without much in the way of discernible skills. But so long as she keeps choosing to inflict her “talent” on people, we feel obligated to mock her for it.
5. Scott Baio
If you’re a reality TV fan, or were alive during the ‘80s, you might have caught some of the last-gasps-of-fandom-killing show Scott Baio is 45 and single. That’s when nerds of a certain age learned that the guy they had a crush on when they were 12 is now kind of a skeezy fool. His proud reveal as a supporter of Donald Drumpf gained him notice in recent months. Here’s hoping it won’t result in another sitcom. After his childhood debut in the surprisingly good movie Bugsy Malone, Baio was cast on Happy Days. His first girlfriend was actress Erin Moran (who played his show girlfriend there and on the spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi). Baio really, really hates it when people call him Chachi or “Charles in Charge,” in real life.
Hilariously, neither Baio’s professional website nor his Wikipedia page reference his singing career. Rest assured, he definitely put out two albums. One was eponymously titled, and the other was called The Boys are Out Tonight. He also appears on the soundtrack for the ‘80s TV version of Alice in Wonderland, and he performs, along with Erin Moran, the intro song from their spinoff show. It’s not very good, but always worth a listen when you’re feeling talentless.
4. Kim Kardashian
Older media fans, and people with a ton of good taste might not know much about famed socialite Kim Kardashian. She came to the public eye as a friend of the aforementioned Paris Hilton, and much like her former pal, Kardashian attained a kind of stardom when her sex tape went viral. She’s now married to Kanye West, who you may have heard of as the “Imma let you finish” guy. Letting go of the debate on whether reality TV stars count as “actors,” we’re prepared to concede that she’s been paid to act, so it counts.
In some circles, art is contagious. Hang out with tons of writers, you may start to think you ought to write a book. The same goes for actors, models, and singers. Point is, the “friends” who told Kim she could sing didn’t do her any favors. Her overproduced nightmare of a debut song, called “Jam (Turn it up)” can be heard here. But like a few of the other links we’ve embedded in this post, we don’t recommend it.
3. Lee Majors
Lee Majors was an enormous star in the ‘70s, beloved as TV’s Six Million Dollar Man. Remember, that’s back when six million dollars was considered an absurdly, unthinkably large sum of money, and not like, a tenth of what Robert Downey Jr. is getting for the next Avengers movie. Being bionic was his claim to fame until he achieved television success again as The Fall Guy. He’s a Michigan native who got his start as a stuntman, so it’s not surprising that he’d eventually want to try something less dangerous.
Majors sang on The Six Million Dollar Man when they were spinning off the female version of the series, The Bionic Woman. The song, “Sweet Jamie” was not so terrible–for ‘70s TV anyway. Majors also sang the theme song for The Fall Guy. The albums, though? Ugh. Lee Majors is still making music, which we found surprising given how commercially unsuccessful the endeavor has been. Singing ballads is not the way to hold onto a tough-guy image, after all. One thing we do know is that the next bionic man (rumored to be Mark Wahlberg) has already had a brief singing career of his own.
2. Hulk Hogan
Before he won millions of dollars in a court case that literally referenced the size of his package, Hulk Hogan was an actor and professional wrestler. Some of you might even be old enough to remember when Hogan acted like a guy who could beat Andre the Giant in a wrestling match. Later, he portrayed a wrestler who was tough enough to best fictional boxer Rocky Balboa in the ring. In 2015, the world discovered that Hogan had been playing the part of a non-racist for decades. It was a convincing portrayal, we’ve gotta say.
The Hulkster’s singing career probably began as a joke. Shame it didn’t end there. In addition to cutting a few songs, Hulk Hogan spent some time singing in malls, conventions, and other impromptu events. No word on how original mall singer Tiffany felt about that. These days, Hogan plays the bass in between selling energy drinks and spending all that Gawker lawsuit money.
1. Corey Feldman
Did anyone doubt that Corey Feldman would be tops on our list of actors who should have never tried singing? We all loved young Corey in stuff like Lost Boys, Goonies, and Friday the 13th pt 4. Heck, we could even get behind his campy adult stuff like Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood. And that movie had Dennis Miller for crying out loud! After his mock-worthy performance on the Today Show, and the public reveal about Corey’s Angels and the goings on at the “Feldmansion” (yes, he really does call his house that, unironically), Feldman has graduated from adorable child star to severely screwed up adult. Only now, he’s a screwed-up adult with a singing career—still trying to do the same Michael Jackson-inspired moves he busted out when he was 10.
His band, Truth Movement, seems to have missed out on the essential truth of Feldman’s lack of musical talent, style, passion, or any semblance of adulthood. Feldman has released 5 albums since his first one dropped in 1992, though we’re betting you couldn’t name a single song from any one of them.
Did you agree with our list of actors who never should have tried singing? Wonder why people like Eddie Murphy or Mark Wahlberg didn’t make our list? Tell us all about it in the comments.