The Oscars are tomorrow night. Obviously, this means I need to insult actors.
I already insulted the Grammys but, amazingly, the Oscars are worse. They’re an interminable celebration of biopics and period dramas nobody actually saw. The Oscar voters are intensely dedicated to not honoring “genre movies,” a category that includes so many things that the tiny area not covered has become its own “Oscar bait” genre. And worst of all, they refuse to nominate Ryan Coogler, by far the best director in Hollywood today, for Best Director even when he makes an Oscar bait indie movie.
It all garbage. Nonsense and garbage.
So to counterbalance it all let’s focus on things actors and actresses are bad at. For some reason actors have thought they could sing since Hollywood began, and because fame sells even in the absence of quality someone is always dumb enough to publish it. So join me on this journey through the worst of Hollywood’s vanity albums.
Bruce Willis — “Young Blood”
In 1987, shortly before the release of the best Christmas action movie ever, Die Hard, the otherwise awesome Bruce Willis released an album that the world has regretted ever since.
Setting race relations back decades, Willis (no relation to me) decided to release an album of covers of songs originally made by much better black musicians, save one original track which is somehow even worse. And not since Pat Boone’s cover of “Tutti Frutti” has it gone as predictably.
Amazingly he got The Temptations and The Pointer Sisters to back him up. And remember, this was pre-Die Hard, so that was off his Moonlighting fame alone! The ’80s were a weird time.
Clint Eastwood — “Don’t Fence Me In”
Eastwood is a great actor and an even better director who’s only improved with time. The Dollars trilogy are some of the best movies ever made and his 21st century directorial output is a near-unbroken stream of pure brilliance. Most impressively, even despite his often-questionable political views and his run in the ’70s as a white power fantasy, Gran Torino is the rare story of a young non-white person teaching an old white man, like an anti-Green Book. And on top of all that he’s actually a fairly talented composer, scoring many of his own movies from Million Dollar Baby to J. Edgar.
But he cannot sing.
In 1963, to capitalize on his breakthrough role in Rawhide, he released an album of country covers. And it’s bad. I didn’t realize it’s possible to sound bored while singing but he manages, drawling half-hearted verses like someone at a karaoke bar who lost a bet. But I guess nobody can win ’em all.
Scott Baio — “How Do You Talk To Girls”
I promise I’m not making this up.
Scott Baio, Chachi of Happy Days and Joanie Loves fame, released an album in 1982, which is when you would expect Chachi to release an album. And yes, it really includes a song called “How Do You Talk To Girls.”
I’m honestly having trouble coming up with jokes better than the actual description of this situation.
Steven Seagal — “Alligator Ass”
You’ve definitely stopped believing these are real. But the joke’s on you, I’m nowhere near creative or funny enough to come up with this.
“Alligator Ass” is the real name of the first single from Steven Seagal’s second album, Mojo Priest. Which means he released an album, then decided to release a second album, even after hearing the first album, Songs from the Crystal Cave.
But it gets better! Unlike Scott Baio, who released his album when “Scott Baio” was a compliment rather than a punchline, Seagal released his albums in 2005 and 2006! And the first album was released by a division of Warner Brothers! Thankfully, the second was released by a Seagal-owned label.
Oh, to have that much unearned confidence.
Don Johnson — “Heartbeat”
If the ’80s was distilled down into one video, it would be this one. It has everything that defined the decade: Don Johnson acting like he’s cool, an actor who’s not even very good at acting who convinced himself he’s also a singer, and probably enough cocaine to fell a full-grown bull moose behind the scenes.
“Heartbeat,” released in 1986, is a cover of a 1983 Helen Reddy song. Reddy is famous for “I Am Woman” which you’ve definitely heard. While a lot of actors recovered covers, or in Bruce Willis’ case almost entirely covers, Johnson is unique for naming the entire album after one of those covers. Which, of course, he utterly butchered.
Did I mention this song hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100? Because, as I mentioned, the ’80s was full of enough cocaine to make Tony Montana get all judgmental.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.