Everybody loves a triple-threat: the actor who can also sing and dance. It really is a special gift of a person who can do all three, and do it well. Heck, sometimes we get so excited at the possibility of a triple-threat that we’ll even let the lesser ones, well, slip through. And sometimes, the means-well-but-shouldn’t take it upon themselves to attempt triple-threat status. And even though we may love these actors so, it doesn’t forgive them of the fact that their attempts to achieve greatness were, well, a bit flawed.
But there’s something to be sad and something to be learned from these performances: what not to do when your director asks for a jazzy dance number, an introspective singing scene on a beach, or even—gulp, we hope not—the use of song and blackface come into play. Sometimes even in comedy, the musical addition (or the person performing it) can miss the mark. So you do your best, because you’re an entertainer, verdamnit! It’s what entertainers do: anything to please the movie-going masses!
We know it’s hard to do—act, sing, dance, all while trying to bring your best moments to screen? That’s got to be a challenge unbelievable in scale. When everybody’s watching like that, it’s easy to think a tiny misstep may go unnoticed. But when they don’t? Well, then it can sometimes blow up in people’s faces. And, hey! We’ve all had moments like that in life, right? It’s part of being human, the imperfections! Some just have skills that others don’t, and that’s fine. So let’s sit back and have a quick laugh at some of the most absurd, ridiculous, or just flat-out terrible musical moments in movies. It’s a group effort, after all!
Russell Crowe in Les Miserables
Oh Russell. You meant so well, didn’t you? When you decided to sing in this very affected manner? We know you have a band (previously called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, now called Russell Crowe & The Ordinary Fear of God) and all that, but rock music has a bit more leeway than your run of the mill, iconic musical number. But when you put on that accent and attempted to sing. Well, my poor, dear fellow: it didn’t work. Not for a second. It felt put-upon and maybe a little (we hate to say it) community theater-esque. Better luck next time, Mr. Crowe?
Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn
Bing Crosby can sing, y’all! Let’s just get that out of the way first and foremost. He can sing, he’s fabulous—every time he opened that mouth of his, greatness would come out. We’re not arguing about that fact. It’s just that, well, looking back at it now: a song about Abraham Lincoln, done at a party, in…blackface? Yeah, call us old-fashioned (or decidedly not), but that just doesn’t really fly well with us, even if it was made in a time where that sort of thing was acceptable. Now poor Bing looks like a right old fool along with everyone else in the clip. Yikes!
Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!
Oh, Mr. Bond. For someone as cool, calm, and collected as you, it seems hardly fair to scrutinize you after wanting to let loose a little bit. But! This is the Internet, so judge we shall. And the verdict? Not good, Mr. Bond. Not good at all. It’s hard going up against a flawless powerhouse of entertainment queendom like Meryl Streep, but something tells us a different song may have served you better. Or no song at all. Can we have an actor in a musical movie not sing? That’s like asking the sun not to shine! And so shine on, he tries, Mr. Brosnan does. This might’ve been a mission too extreme for even the almighty MI6.
Next: Hearts Pop! and Stallone is Drinkinstein
Hugh Grant in Music & Lyrics
The 80s were a time. Man, were they ever a time. Even if you can’t remember them personally, you certainly remember their impact: synths and sugar-sweet pop music dressed in outlandish, bold clothing. Enter: Hugh Grant (and…is that? Yep! It is! Jason Street (Scott Porter) from Friday Night Lights got in on the action, too!). A heartthrob in his own right, perhaps singing wasn’t the best choice. Especially singing cheesy lyrics about your heart exploding. Watch out or it’ll be Pop! goes your career, mate.
Sylvester Stallone in Rhinestone
This epic moment in Stallone’s career starts out with our rhinestoned-out cowboy singing “Budweiser you created a monster / and they called him Drinkinstein.” Not even the fairest maiden of them all could, Dolly Parton could save this wreck. Watch if you want to see Sylvester Stallone in a way that will change your opinions about him forever. Better luck next time, Sly. Stick to the action films in the meantime.
Everyone in From Justin to Kelly
OK, finding videos for this movie was a surprisingly difficult challenge, perhaps because FOX realized how embarrassing the whole charade was, or the actors involved are just mortified enough by the generic terribleness of it all that they have scoured the Internet, ensuring clips never make it into the world wide web. Either way, it’s hard to pick just one terrible moment—though any time Katherine Bailess was singing would probably be a top contender. In its place, enjoy this scene that was actually cut from the film, making it the best of the worst? Singing-wise? Not bad, Mr. Guarini. But everything else? Inexcusable.
Next: mo Spider-Man can’t stop, Bono is a walrus
Bono in Across the Universe
Sure, Bono, you may be a veritable musical monument, but it’s everything else about this performance is just painful. From the Fu Manchu mustache, to the don’t-quit-your-day-job bad American accent to the attempt at creating additional significance in a song better left to the Beatles? Bono done bad, you guys. He’s just being Bono. And all the psychedelic color explosions? Come on, now. Too much in an otherwise lovely film. But seriously? Mangle a Beatles song and some may call for your head on a platter, Bono. His life surrounded by rabid Beatles fans ater this film is probably punishment enough.
John Travolta in Staying Alive
Seems like both John Travolta and our old buddy Sylvester Stallone are responsible for this next mess. Stallone directed Travolta in the almost universally-panned Saturday Night Fever sequel, Staying Alive, and from it came the epitome of everything awful about the 80s, and also misunderstanding what art really means. Enter: the finale dance sequels in the Broadway musical featured in the show. Yes, it’s mostly dancing, but the whole disaster is such an attack on the senses, I think it’s killed my sense of smell, and misplaced everyone involved’s integrity. Yikes.
Tobey Macguire in Spider-Man 3
What happens when you make Spider-Man seem more than a little bit angsty and emo and put in him a jazz dance routine? Sam Raimi‘s abominable and infamous scene from the third film: dancing Tobey Macguire with a floppy haircut and guyliner. Look at him! Double-time! Piano-playing and dancing antics involving chairs! It’s a literal embarrassment (emphasis on the ’embarrassment’) of riches in horribleness. Even the shouts of “yeah, sexy!” from the crowd seemed forced and painful. Make it stop, Spidey! Make.it.stop.
What do you think of the moments we chose? Think of any others? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Warner Brothers]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes