When you become rich and famous, it seems that you can pretty much do anything that you want. Many confident celebrities try their hand at other art forms, and one of the most common examples of this is movie stars going into music. Nine times out of 10 this will prove to be a complete disaster. Many of these records by actors were so terrible that they were quickly swept under the rug so as to avoid any embarrassment, but today we have lifted up the rug to bring you 10 of the worst releases.
10. Jennifer Love Hewitt – Let’s Go Bang
We all know and love Jennifer Love Hewitt as a “Scream Queen” and for starring on Ghost Whisperer, but she also tried to launch a music career as she was breaking onto the acting scene. Although this was not a successful endeavor worldwide, she did become a star in Japan, as her pop-driven sound proved to be very popular. She achieved this at just 12 years old, and after joining Party of Five she signed to Atlantic Records and released the woeful Let’s Go Bang. The album and its three singles failed to chart and Atlantic dropped Hewitt, but this did not deter her. She released another two records which performed marginally better, but it was evident that acting was the way forwards for Hewitt. Although not a terrible singer and capable of writing her own music, her music was far too sweet and sugar-coated for most (apart from in Japan, evidently).
9. Bruce Willis – The Return of Bruno
Often regarded as Hollywood’s tough guy, it is hard to imagine Bruce Willis as a recording artist. He did enjoy moderate success in the late ’80s, however, and this included 1987’s The Return of Bruno, which was an album of bluesy covers (aside from one song written by Willis). Although Willis does not possess a terrible singing voice, he clearly struggles with few of these songs, making the listening experience a challenge at times. It is now a kitsch artifact, which is clear from the cover, but the album did not perform badly, and in the UK “Under the Boardwalk” reached number two on the charts. Willis would follow this album up with 1989’s If It Doesn’t Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger, which was no better. This likely didn’t bother him too much, however, as he was just emerging as the next big action star.
8. Russell Crowe – Gaslight
He leads a somewhat rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, so it should not come as too much of a surprise to learn that Russell Crowe has his own “pub rock” type band. Bizarrely named 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, the band formed in 1992 and saw Crowe on lead vocals and guitar. Their debut album, Gaslight, came out in 1998, but the band clearly had more attitude than talent. The band (and Crowe) is not completely incapable, but it is hard to see it as more than a vanity project. They followed this effort up with Bastard Life or Clarity and Other Ways of Speaking, but again struggled to find much success. Crowe later formed a new band, The Ordinary Fear of God, but even a new band could not launch his music career; he will just have to stick to living the rock star lifestyle.
7. Don Johnson – Heartbeat
No matter how terrible, Don Johnson’s 1986 debut album Heartbeat was always going to sell due to his enormous popularity as Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice. Unsurprisingly, it is an awful album, but is now considered to be a novelty item and a product of its time. Painfully ’80s, the single “Heartbeat” was a top five hit, but the music video has since been voted MTV’s “most lame video of all time.” Not only is Johnson not a very good singer, but the sound mix is also terrible and makes for a difficult listen. The redeeming factor of the album is that, due to his popularity, Johnson was able to get a host of strong collaborators on board, including Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Ron Wood and Barbra Streisand. The follow-up in 1989, Let It Roll, was a commercial failure. Clearly everyone had come to their senses by this point.
6. Keanu Reeves – Our Little Visionary
From 1991 to 2002, Keanu Reeves played in a grunge trio known as Dogstar. While he may be more famous for his starring roles in The Matrix, Speed and Point Break, Reeves also found some success through his bass playing skills. But it is evident that the band largely achieved popularity because they had a famous actor in their ranks, as the music itself is pretty terrible and boring. They attempt to be a part of the grunge scene that was evolving at the time, but the vocalist is not up to scratch and a lot of the music is bland. Dogstar’s debut, Our Little Liar, came out in 1996, and they would release a follow-up entitled Happy Ending in 2000 before hanging up their boots (just as Keanu was becoming a star). Unless you are a major Keanu Reeves fan, you are best giving Dogstar a miss.
5. Steven Seagal – Songs from the Crystal Cave
Steven Seagal has many strings to his bow, and he seems to believe that being a musician is one of them. The actor is also a producer, director, martial artist, Aikido instructor, reserve deputy sheriff and an entrepreneur, in addition to having two albums to his name. He has performed on a few scores, but for some reason somebody decided to give him a record contract, which saw the release of Songs from the Crystal Cave in 2005. A mix of rock, reggae and country, Seagal struggles with his guitar playing and singing throughout, and the album was heavily criticized. His follow-up in 2006, Mojo Priest, was not an improvement, but it did not stop Seagal from touring in support of the record. He is backed with decent musicians (including Stevie Wonder) which somewhat saves the work, but it is evident that Seagal should stick to his other hobbies.
4. William Shatner – The Transformed Man
Falling under the “so bad it’s good” category, William Shatner’s bizarre musical career has been both heavily criticized and parodied. He will typically speak the lyrics as an exaggerated interpretive reading, and this is certainly unique and entertaining. His debut album, The Transformed Man, came out in 1968 and was comprised of the Star Trek legend providing dramatic readings of Shakespeare interspersed with dramatic readings of pop songs, most notably The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” It is considered to be the worst Beatles cover of all time, but Shatner defended it as an acting performance from the perspective of an LSD user. His music is now enjoyed in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and this is evident with 2011’s Seeking Major Tom, which features many high-profile musicians, some spectacular artwork and a space odyssey theme.
3. Corey Feldman – Former Child Actor
A former child actor releasing a solo record titled just that serves as a warning. The album is predictably terrible and not even fans of his work can appreciate it. This was actually Feldman’s third album, and he used this as a way to re-establish his life after a very public battle with drugs. Whilst it is good that Feldman benefited from creating music, the result is shockingly bad and the album was universally slated. Despite such criticism, he is still making music today, with Technology Analogy arriving in 2010 and another album scheduled for release soon. His music is best avoided at all costs, and the young star of films such as The Goonies, The Lost Boys, Gremlins and The ’Burbs has struggled with his career ever since these films and will frequently make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
2. Joe Pesci – Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You
It can be particularly painful to see a celebrity milk something dry just to stay in the public eye (or earn some money), which is sadly what Joe Pesci did following the success of My Cousin Vinny. Six years after the release of the film, Pesci paid homage to his character by releasing this terrible album which features some awful songwriting, and Pesci’s singing is far from impressive and he seems to put little effort into it. It is very clichéd and cringe-worthy, and unsurprisingly it was universally slated. Pesci was a lounge singer before getting into acting, and occasionally this is evident, but largely it is a painful listen which even features gangsta rap at one point. Pesci retired from acting following the release of this album, but it is best to forget this album and instead remember him for Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Casino and a few other classics.
1. David Hasslehoff – Looking for Freedom
For some reason, David Hasslehoff is enormously popular and successful as a pop star in Germany. This is something the rest of the Western world is still trying to get its head around, as his music seems like a big joke. It is all incredibly cheesy, with terrible sound effects and off-key singing, but given the popularity of his public persona many people enjoy his music in a tongue-in-cheek manner. So much so, that in 2006 a campaign in England started by fans of “The Hoff” attempted to get his 1989 hit “Looking For Freedom” to the top of the UK charts. The Baywatch and Knightrider legend also released a music video earlier this year for “True Survivor,” a heavily ’80s themed video that provides for some of the most bizarre entertainment of all time (the song is for the action spoof Kung Fury). Tongue-in-cheek or not, the music is terrible.