The art of an unexpected surprise can make something go viral instantly. One example of this is when musicians bring other musicians on stage for an impromptu performance during a show or festival. YouTube hits go off the charts for that sort of thing. Equally as fun for fans and viral-worthy is when musicians are taken out of their comfort zone on stage and into a role on the big screen. Let’s face it, when you least expect something it makes more of an impact.
Musicians can sometimes take themselves too seriously, so when they pop up in a cameo in a movie—it’s a welcomed change of pace for their fans. There have been plenty of instances where the music and movie world have coexisted and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it to stop now. A lot of the times it works. It seems to be much easier for musicians to try out their acting chops as opposed to the other way around. There have been some outrageous albums that have been made by actors, but very rarely has a musician bombed in a part of a film.
Whether these cameos have the artist portraying themselves, an exaggerated version of themselves or a fictional character, it is entertaining. Often times these roles are done comically and can be the takeaway of the movie in the eyes of the viewer. Shocking the audience with a well-known artist strategically placed in the movie definitely is one way to get people talking about a film. There have been many artists to come and try their chops in Hollywood. Here are some of the best:
10) Davy Jones – The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
The scene was all set for Jan Brady to take over as the leading lady at the high school dance until her older sister Marcia, played by Christine Taylor, shows up to introduce a special guest performer. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. The elder sister announced Davy Jones of The Monkees, who had come to the school at her request. Jones launches into his slow ballad, “Girl,” much to the dismay of the dance attendees. The older teachers swoon for the nostalgia while the students stand around in awe of how incredibly outdated his performance is. The house band decides to join The Monkees front man and help him pick up the pace. The result is a school-wide flash mob that launches Marcia’s popularity to new heights.
9) Green Day – The Simpsons Movie (2007)
The punk rockers from Oakland, CA show up as their animated selves playing a concert for the good people of Springfield. Clad in their black and red “American Idiot” attire, the band plays its own version of The Simpsons theme song with a little help from the concert going fans. “We’ve been playing for three and a half hours,” boasts front man Billie Joe Armstrong, “Now we’d like just a minute of your time to say something about the environment!” The crowd cheers instantly turn to boos as they bombard the makeshift barge stage with beer bottles and trash causing it to begin to sink. Green Day then imitates the infamous scene in Titanic, where the string quartet band plays until they go under water. It is a hilarious moment in an otherwise lackluster film.
8) Blink-182 – American Pie (1999)
We’ve all been there before. You bring a study date over to do some afternoon homework and instead she asks you to do a strip tease that ends up being broadcast over the Internet to the entire school. In this choice moment from American Pie, James (Jason Biggs) begins to dance awkwardly for the amusement of the beautiful Nadia, played by Shannon Elizabeth. The Internet feed being broadcast from the young lad’s room makes its way to a band practicing, which turns out to be Blink-182. The band, as well as other students around town, watch in horror, amazement and confusion as James attempts to seduce Nadia with less than ideal results.
7) Snoop Dogg – Half Baked (1998)
You cannot have a movie about weed and not include The Doggfather! Snoop Dogg shows up as Thurgood (Dave Chapelle) and Brian (Jim Breuer) have a recreational smoke. Snoop is referred to as a “Scavenger” smoker, which is someone who never has weed of their own, but show up conveniently once you start smoking . The pair reluctantly allows Snoop to join in their smoke session and he takes an overwhelming amount of hits just for himself. He probably taught the cast of Half Baked a thing or two about proper smoking etiquette.
6) Billy Idol – The Wedding Singer (1998)
Always been one to understand the problems and heartbreak of others, Billy Idol shares his opinions with Robbie, portrayed by Adam Sandler, while onboard a flight to Las Vegas. Idol’s enthusiasm towards helping Robbie win the heart of Julia (Drew Barrymore) is infectious to the rest of the passengers on the plane. With a seductive introduction over the PA system, Idol makes way for Robbie to sing a song he has written for his one true love. Without the help of Idol using his brains and brawn to help Robbie, this movie may have had a not so happy ending.
5) Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
“The Godfather of Shock Rock”, Alice Cooper makes an appearance as himself in the feature film of the Saturday Night Live sketch, Wayne’s World. Wayne and his best friend, Garth, head to Milwaukee with VIP passes to catch Cooper’s show. After the set, they head backstage to hang out with Alice and the band and what they find is not exactly what they had imagined. When asked if he frequents Milwaukee often, Cooper schools the duo on the history of the city and its proper pronunciation in a hilarious show-stealing scene.
4) Jack White – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Jack White plays the front man in so many different bands it’s easy to be confused. In the comedy Walk Hard he only has one role to play, “The King” Elvis Presley. Star of the comedy, Dewey Cox, runs into “The King” back stage at a show and White’s caricature of Presley is stunning. Presley goes on to speak quite highly of himself to Cox and even shows him a special form of karate. “Only two kinds of people know it, the Chinese and The King,” claims Presley.
3) Vanilla Ice – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
For those of us that grew up on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, we were slightly bummed when Michael Bay announced he would be doing a re-make of the film. However, one thing Bay could never be able to recreate is the absolutely incredible dance/fight scene involving Vanilla Ice. Ice raps and dances while half a dozen mutants do battle in the middle of a packed night club. No one seems to mind or even notice how strange the situation is, which adds to the hilarity. Once you see this scene you will have the chant “Go ninja, go ninja, go!” in your head for the rest of the day.
2) Eminem – The Interview (2014)
Always one to show his humorous side, Eminem does it in the subtlest way possible here in the extremely controversial movie, The Interview. In a very subdued interview with Skylark Tonight starring James Franco as Dave Skylark, Eminem announces to the world that he is a “homosexual” which causes a wave of action in the production booth of the show. Asking him to clarify what he means to make sure they didn’t mishear him—Eminem then confirms what he said four additional times. His demeanor throughout the whole scene never changes once, which just adds to the plethora of things Eminem is capable of doing.
1) Will Smith & Kanye West – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
Our number one cameo for a musician in a movie involved two well-known rappers in one hilarious scene. The infamous fight scene involves gangs of different news crews from all over network TV in a gigantic brawl to see who will reign supreme. As more crews begin to show up, dropping down from the sky is Kanye West as Wesley Jackson and the MTV News team. Later in the scene, Will Smith shows up Jeff Bullington from ESPN News in a rare cameo from the superstar actor/rapper. The unexpected roles for both West and Smith play out perfectly in the scene and it is always great to see two well-respected celebrities lighten up and take on a comedic role.