Actors who dance, models who sing, and dancers who act are all commonplace these days. Every celebrity wants to be a triple threat, and be involved in as many aspects of the entertainment business as they can. While some stars choose to stick to what they are good at, others will try everything, just because if the opportunity is there, then why not?
While some actors-turned-musicians, such as Jared Leto, and Steve Martin, have had lots of success in both their fields, there are a lot of celebrities that attempt a career in music, but never gain the following they were hoping for. Whether it was just an attempt to live out the dream of their own album, or a genuine stab at musical stardom, these 10 celebrities all recorded an album, and you probably didn’t even know about it.
Action star and former Mr. Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, has released not one, but three albums to date. His debut, released in 1987, was entitled The Return of Bruno, and included mostly pop-blues style songs. The first single, “Respect Yourself” , was a cover of a song of the same name by R&B group, The Staple Singers, but Willis’ version ended up performing well, peaking at #5 on the Hot 100. He also did a cover of “Under the Boardwalk“, but it wasn’t nearly as popular. His second album If It Don’t Kill You , It Just Makes You Stronger was released in 1989, and in 2001 Classic Bruce Willis: The Universal Masters Collection hit stores.
David Hasselhoff is best known for running on the beach in red shorts as Mitch Buchanan on Baywatch, and as a judge on America’s Got Talent. But did you know he is also a prolific musician? He has released 17 albums, the first one in 1985, and the latest one in 2012. Although his acting career has had its ups and downs, his musical career has been pretty steady. He had a number 1 hit in 1989 on the German pop charts, called “Looking For Freedom“, but his musical style has failed to catch on in the States and Canada. In 2011, he did a short tour across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Chances are, we haven’t heard the last of David Hasselhoff’s singing voice.
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr., AKA Iron Man, released his one and only album, The Futurist, in 2004, and has since said that he has no plans to produce another album. Despite garnering moderate reviews, and selling 16,000 copies in its first week, Downey felt like the work he put into it did not pay off as much as he had hoped it would. The album includes eight pop ballads written by Downey, as well as two cover songs. He also plays the piano on a couple of tracks. USA Today wrote that the vibe on Downey’s album “can seem pretentious or simply dull after a while, but there is a moody musicality to some tracks.”
You may have noticed that Zooey Deschanel sings the title song for her hit show The New Girl, but she has also released four studio albums under the name She & Him, as collaborations with musician and producer M. Ward. She has also contributed to a few of the soundtracks for her movies, such as a cover of “Sugar Town” for 500 Days of Summer. She & Him released a Christmas album in 2011 that was Amazon’s third highest selling Christmas album over the holiday period. Deschanel’s music is generally classified as an indie rock/pop/folk hybrid.
The star of blockbuster movies like Speed, and The Matrix trilogy, also used to be the bassist in a band called, Dogstar. They formed in 1991, just when Reeves was starting to break out of his typical stoner teen roles phase (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), and become a leading man. The 4-member alternative grunge band released one EP (1996), and two albums, the last one being in 2001. In 1995, Dogstar opened for Bon Jovi, and they also appeared at UK’s Glastonbury Festival in 1999. They even helped other huge bands get their big break, as Weezer’s first gig was opening for Dogstar in 1992.
Scarlett Johansson is considered one of the sexiest women in Hollywood, and she is an award-winning actress for movies like The Girl With the Pearl Earring and Lost in Translation. She has always enjoyed singing and has contributed to film soundtracks, but she considers herself a vocalist, and not a songwriter. In 2008, she released an album of Tom Waits covers entitled, Anywhere I Lay My Head. It received mixed reviews ranging from favorable to average, and NME named it the 23rd best album of 2008. She has mentioned being interested in working on a follow-up album, but would prefer to do original songs.
Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael Bacon formed the duo The Bacon Brothers in 1995. They have released 7 studio albums, and have toured across the US a few times. They are classified as country or folk-rock and they often contribute to soundtracks, and do shows for charity. According to Michael, Kevin writes the majority of their songs, and, is very talented at “turning everyday experiences into universal thoughts that everyone can identify with.” They have never relied on Kevin’s existing fame, and would rather go on tour and play small shows to build up a following of devoted fans. They aren’t in it for the money, they just love music.
In the 2012 film Les Miserables, Russell Crowe played the role of Javert, and sang all his own songs. This was a surprising role for him to take if you are used to him playing physical roles like his Oscar-winning turn in Gladiator. But in reality, that wasn’t the first time he has tapped into his musical ability. In 1992, Crowe took on lead vocals and guitar for the band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (or TOFOG), and they released an EP and 3 albums. In 2005, Crowe released another album with a newly formed band, The Ordinary Fear of God, which included members he had worked with in the past. He has also collaborated with Alan Doyle of Canadian band, Great Big Sea, with their latest effort hitting iTunes in 2011.
Leighton Meester may have gotten her start on the hit show Gossip Girl, but music is another thing that is important to her. In 2007, she signed a recording contract with Universal Republic, and although her album was set to drop in 2010, it kept getting pushed back and eventually never happened. She did release multiple singles that did moderately well on the charts, including “Somebody to Love” featuring Robin Thicke. She was also a guest vocalist on “Good Girls Go Bad” by Cobra Starship, which peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Since starring in the film Country Strong, and contributing to the soundtrack, she has turned her focus on more folk-inspired music, and has recorded a demo album with band Check in the Dark. Seems like it’s only a matter of time before she releases a full album.
Ryan Gosling is first and foremost a Hollywood heartthrob who will probably win an Oscar at some point. But that doesn’t mean he can’t spend time on his music hobby too. Gosling formed the rock duo Dead Man’s Bones with his friend Zach Shields, in 2007, when they discovered their mutual love for ghost stories. Therefore, they decided to write love songs about ghosts and monsters. While recording, they also imposed rules on their process, including playing without a click track, and trying not to do more than three takes of any song. They wanted to highlight the imperfections of music, and how that makes it better. Their debut album was released in 2009 through ANTI-records, and they toured around the states the same year, making sure to include a local children’s choir in every show.