Welcome to the weekly Newsroom Poll, where we will give you a sneak peek into the lives and minds of some of the correspondents, writers, editors and producers here at MTV News. Every week, they’ll answer a poll question that will reveal some of what we talk about behind the scenes here in the newsroom. Enjoy!
There’s been a lot of talk about Taylor Momsen and her band the Pretty Reckless in the Newsroom this week. Who does the band most remind us of? Are they any good? And will Momsen have to fight off Courtney Love? But mostly it made us think about other actors who have tried their hand at music. So this week’s question is: What is the best — or worst — actor-turned-musician transition? Read the Newsroom’s answers below, then leave your own thoughts in the comments.
This is one of those debates that gets me into trouble and forces people to question my rock critic membership card, because I tend to think that these projects are never as bad as people think. I thought Scarlett Johansson’s collection of Tom Waits tunes was actually pretty good, and I’ve always had a little weak spot for Bruce Willis’ blues album. But the one person who stands out for me is Zooey Deschanel, who teamed up with M. Ward for one of my favorite albums of last year as She & Him. I don’t care for Deschanel as an actress (she sort of reminds me of Katie Holmes on “Dawson’s Creek,” where her entire acting range consists of looking vaguely spacey and adjusting her hair), but the things that bother me about her in movies totally hit home on record. Sure, the album blatantly borrows from Dusty Springfield and any number of country balladeers, but her voice is simple and the songs are unfussy and sweet. (I don’t even mind her in that cotton ad that plays before videos on this site). The thought of seeing “500 Days of Summer” makes me want to stab my cuticles repeatedly with knitting needles, but “This Is Not a Test” and “Sentimental Heart” are in constant rotation on my iPod.
Eddie Murphy‘s “Party All The Time” is totally my jam. There’s not a whole lot of depth to it, but when you want to literally party all the time, nothing is better encouragement than a song that repeats your goal 32 times over the course of three minutes.
I hated Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s attempt at singing — and acting, for that matter!
This isn’t really a case of “crossing over” into the music world, but Bill Cosby put out one album in 1971 that gets heavy play in my rotation, thanks to a 2008 reissue from Dusty Groove America. It also has one of the greatest album titles of all time: “Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band.” It’s a jazz-funk record consisting of two lengthy tracks, “Martin’s Funeral” and “Hybish Shybish.” Cosby’s love of jazz is legendary; well-known musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horn and Tito Puente frequently guest starred on “The Cosby Show.” Together with Herbie Hancock, Cosby also wrote the music for the “Fat Albert” cartoon series. “Badfoot Brown” is my favorite though. Cosby’s electric piano work is great and the dirty funk served up from his largely uncredited band sounds as fresh today as the day it was recorded.
Terrence Howard‘s Shine Through It has everything you’d want in a hot mess celebrity album: Painfully pretentious lyrics, hilariously earnest vocals, extended flamenco guitar solos and an anti-war song. SCORE! Seriously, this beast eclipses “Battlefield Earth” as the funniest/worst celeb passion project ever. It’s so hard to pick a favorite jam. Is it the epic Tom Waits-inspired ditty, “Mr. Johnson’s Lawn?” Or maybe it’s “I Remember When,” which answers the question, “What would it sound like if Randy Newman wrote the theme to an ’80s sitcom?” It’s hard to top the opening track, though. “Love Makes You Beautiful” is the gift that keeps on giving. You’ll guffaw over Terrence’s sheep-like vocal delivery, raise an eyebrow when the cloying background singers “la la la” midway through, and then smack your forehead when Terrence trades poetry verses with a female voice-mail message. The LOLs come so fast and furious throughout his album, by the time he sings, “There’s been conversations ’bout some proclamations as in documentations from some United Nations like a give damn,” you’ll have gone through three boxes of baby-wipes from all the tears of joy you’ve sopped up.
Mine is easy: Drake. Aubrey Drake Graham played a paraplegic basketball player on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” I never watched the show, but Drake is a hell of a music artist — his So Far Gone is one my favorite mixtapes of the year so far.
Hands down: Jada Pinkett Smith for her vocal talents in her “metal” band Wicked Wisdom. While I don’t think the band or her voice is very good, Mrs. Will Smith is my favorite actress-turned-musician because the whole idea of it is just mind-blowing. I can’t decide if it’s ballsy or just crazy, but seeing the wife of a bubblegum rapper/ acting powerhouse scream over drop-d guitars on Letterman was awesomely terrible. Or was it terribly awesome?