While the likes of Madonna, David Bowie and Prince have made the process of musical reinvention appear effortless, not every artist can get away with adopting such a chameleon-like approach to their career. Here's a look at five of the most misguided attempts at changing musical direction.
Garth Brooks Turns Into Chris Gaines
Pre-dating Joaquin Phoenix's equally perplexing attempt to become a rock star by about a decade, country's biggest star swapped his black cowboy hat for some black guyliner in 1999 for an album recorded under the guise of Chris Gaines. Unfortunately the film that Brooks assumed the fictitious persona for was never filmed, meaning that most of his fans thought he'd simply lost his mind and the ironically-titled Greatest Hits spent the next few years filling up bargain bins.
Robbie Williams Turns To Rap
Following nearly a decade of colossal success in which even a lazy collection of swing covers sold by the bucketload, Robbie Williams must have believed he was untouchable. 2006's Rudebox, a bewildering mixture of hip-hop, electronica and synth-pop spearheaded by the title track rap turkey, proved he most certainly wasn't, derailing his career at exactly the same time that his old boyband Take That began their triumphant second wind.
New Kids On The Block Get Tough
Following four albums of sugary teen pop, New Kids On The Block shortened their name, fired their long-time producer Maurice Starr and decided to go even more 'hangin' tough' on their 1994 comeback, Face The Music. Unsurprisingly, few were convinced by their transparent attempt to court some street credibility and the album crawled in at a lowly No. 37 on the Billboard charts.
Liz Phair Goes Pop
Hooking up with hit factory The Matrix, indie favorite Liz Phair made an unexpected bid for mainstream success with her pop-focused eponymous 2003 LP. In the short term, the bid to become Avril Lavigne's older sister paid off when it equalled the chart peak of her critically-acclaimed sophomore, Whip-Smart. But in the long term, the album was considered as an act of career suicide and despite returning to her lo-fi roots with subsequent releases, those fans who labelled her a sellout never returned.
Pat Boone Takes On Metal's Finest
In one of those career moves you still can’t quite believe actually happened, conservative Christian pop veteran Pat Boone donned a leather vest, earring and dog collar to promote 1997's In A Metal Mood...No More Mr. Nice Guy, a collection of classic rock anthems from the likes of Metallica, Guns N' Roses and of course, Alice Cooper, bizarrely performed in a big band style.
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Before Mindy McCready was tabloid fodder and a cast member on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, she showed great promise as a country singer. Throughout her career, McCready released five studio albums, garnering five top 20 hits, including her No. 1 single, "Guys Do It All The Time," as well as her top 10-charting hits "Ten Thousand Angels" and "A Girl's Gotta Do (What a Girl's Gotta Do)."
While her personal life was at times outrageous and ultimately tragic, her vocal prowess was undeniable. Read on below for more of McCready's music career, as told through the videos she made.
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Ten Thousand Angels
McCready's first single came off the album of the same name in 1996, when the singer was only 21 years old. The song reached No. 6 on the Billboard Country charts.
Guys Do It All The Time
Her follow-up single to "Ten Thousand Angels" is what really made McCready a country crooner to take note of: It reached No. 1 on both American and Canadian country charts. No small feat when you look at the competition out at that time: Tim McGraw, George Strait, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, and Garth Brooks — just to name a few. The song lamented the hypocrisy of her man's feelings after McCready and her gals had a late night.
Maybe He'll Notice Her Now
A duet with Lonestar's Richie McDonald, McCready's next single was a melancholic tune. The subject matter reflects a relationship where a woman leaves because her man doesn't pay her much mind. Turns out leaving was the best thing she could've done, as he calls her back up and realizes he's been a fool.
You'll Never Know
The video, one of two directed by McCready's then-boyfriend, actor Dean Cain (some of you may know him as Superman), "You'll Never Know" continues with the singer's trend of inner sadness.
The Other Side of This Kiss
The second Cain-directed clip features McCready dancily skipping about New Orleans, Louisiana without a care in the world, and a yearning for a deeper connection with the man she's seeing.
All I Want Is Everything
McCready's next single seems to continue the female-empowered idea from "Guys Do It All The Time." While the tune starts out as a seemingly materialistic ode, it ends with her admission that the biggest want of all is, well, love.
McCready's first single of the aughts, "Scream" speaks very closely to the inner turmoil McCready faced. With lyrics like "Anger so buried deep / Eats you up inside / Spreads like a parasite / There's no where to hide / I want to let it go / Before it smothers my soul / Uncover my heart again / Fillin' the hole," it seems that McCready's troubles were always deep-seeded.
Maybe, Maybe Not
McCready's last music video was 2001's "Maybe, Maybe Not," and featured McCready playing in soap bubbles while admitting that perhaps her last relationship's demise was partially her fault while also sheding uncertainty on that very hypothetical.
[Photo Credit: Bill Waugh/AP Images]
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With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.