After we broached the subject of 'Crossover Artists' last month (here), 405 writer Richard Wink decided to take a trip down crossover lane and give his two cents on the subject. Header image by Christina Sanders
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What makes a singer want to act? Why would they run the risk of doing a Mariah and potentially jeopardize their career by starring in the equivalent of Glitter? Yeah, I know Carey has redeemed herself somewhat through her role in Precious, but at the time her whole working life hit the skids. Then there are actors who think they can make quality records. Who knew that Steve Martin would make a inglorious return on Jools Holland playing banjo with Steep Canyon Rangers, or that Steven Seagal would treat us to Songs from the Crystal Cave. It came as a surprise to see Scarlett Johansson release an album of Tom Waits covers, more shocking is news of the rumored long-awaited reunion of Keanu Reeves’s Dogstar, and Michael Eavis’ possible plan to get them to be the super surprise special guests at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Certain crossover artists have made a good fist of both. Zooey Deschanel has appeared in a few credible indie flicks, and collaborated splendidly with M. Ward as part of She & Him. Jared Leto has enjoyed great commercial success as both an actor and a musician. But I’d like to focus on the seven worst career moves, where an ‘artist’ has crossed over into a zone of discomfort.
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1. Cool as Ice Currently reinventing himself as a father figure for Jedward, Vanilla Ice was at one time a big deal, and arguably the most commercially successful white rapper of his day. His star rose so much that Hollywood came calling. After playing himself a few months earlier in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze Ice was given his own vehicle, a vehicle which quickly came off the road, hit a brick wall and burst into flames. Essentially the plot of Cool as Ice was bad boy meets good girl, various people disapprove, and then love conquers all. The End. After this failure the director David Kellogg got laughed out of Hollywood and ended up directing tasteful softcore pornography. Ice turned to drugs and rap-metal. 2. David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King Don’t let nostalgia fool you. Labyrinth was a terrible movie. Bowie plays this ‘evil’ new romantic looking fella who kidnaps a baby. Jennifer ‘ass-to-ass’ Connelly then enters this strange Muppet Land of Oz and rescues the kid. Because he’s David Bowie, Jareth doesn’t die, instead he turns into an owl. Bowie for some reason always had this idea that he was going to be a successful actor, but for whatever reason he was never able to land any big roles, despite being one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived. 3. Gazza: The pop star? Everybody’s favourite lovable, wife beating, alcoholic mentalist Footballer reinterprets the Lindisfarne classic. Gazza in 1990 was the Beckham of his day; he had the world at his feet, playing for the greatest club side in the world Tottenham Hotspur, and was on the crest of a glorious wave. So naturally it seemed perfect for him to release a pop record. I know what you’re thinking. Gazza is not an artist, well he was. Only his canvas was the football pitch. 4.Jennifer Lopez in Gigli Sometimes I wonder if Jennifer Lopez is in on the joke. Just taking on whatever script comes her way. She’s been involved in a substantial amount of flops, but starring alongside Ben Affleck in the atrocious Gigli, a film so bad it was beyond parody was an all time low for Lopez, a woman who owed her whole career in both music and film to having a shapely bottom. The failure of Gigli caused one of tinsel town’s great power couples, the entity known as ‘Bennifer’ to unfortunately disintegrate. 5. William Shatner narrates song lyrics ironically Ok, I will concede that first time around this was pretty funny, but then it gets boring, real fast. Way, way back in the day Shatner released The Transformed Man though nobody fully understood why. Normal people and Trekkies alike were unsure whether Shatner reciting popular songs seriously was just him joshing around or that he was actually indulging in some kind of beatnik performance art. It’s about as funny as your Grandad trying to sing along to an N-Dubz song. 6. Wicked Wisdom A few years back I somehow managed to catch this band play two sets at the Download festival….. accidentally I might add. I think at the time I was severely constipated and was in search of a clean toilet, frantically wandering around Donnington race track in hope of enjoying a sanitized number two. Jada Pinkett-Smith (wife of Will) awkwardly fronts a heavy metal band with hilarious results. 7. Eminem plays himself in 8 Mile I’ve never understood why Eminem was lauded for his performance in 8 Mile. He never had to get into character, because he was the character! With names changed for legal reasons, Marshall Mathers became Jimmy ‘Rabbit’ Smith Jr. 8 Mile was essentially the tipping point, after which personal demons and the classic hip hop problem of losing relevance stuttered his career. Eminem has since bounced back, but his star has fallen considerably.