With Rihanna now trying to transition from autotune to CGI, we compiled a list of the best and worst big screen debuts of popular singers. For simplicity’s sake, we don’t count musicals. (Sorry Barbra Streisand and Julie Andrews fans.)
Taylor Swift – Valentine’s Day
Those mousy eyes. Those enormous bucked teeth. That grating voice. Maybe if they needed to cast someone to play Bug’s Bunny’s annoying little sister would she actually be acceptable, but in Valentine’s Day she demonstrates the epitome of why some singers shouldn’t be actors: they can’t act. In Swift’s defense, however, she also can’t sing.
Cyndi Lauper – Vibes
She may have a five-octave singing range, but her acting range is much less impressive. Cyndi Lauper was fantastic in her music videos (Goonies anyone?), but on film, she’s just too unusual to to be playing a leading lady. She proved her comedic abilities in some of her skits with Captain Lou, but this is a bad role for her, and in a bad movie.
Justin Timberlake – Alpha Dog
His first movie to actually make it to theaters was a complete bomb. Here Timberlake pretends to be a hardass. Nothing is more embarrassing when spoiled, rich white boys parade around as tough guys. Why was he given another shot at acting? Why? He’s never headlined a hit movie. All he does is coattail off the talents of better actors whom he should feel blessed to be cast with. Oh, and his voice is that of a prepubescent boy. Thank goodness he’s moved on to the crown jewel of acting: romantic comedies.
Britney Spears – Crossroads
Is this one too obvious? This movie was nothing more than a vehicle for Britney Spears to foray into acting. It wasn’t a huge flop, but after winning the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress of the Year, it was enough to help put and end to this overexposure of the ’90s pop princess. Seems Spears was (surprisingly) smart enough to realize this as well, since she’s been MIA on the big screen ever since.
Neil Diamond – The Jazz Singer
Who doesn’t have their favorite Neil Diamond song? But it’s most likely none of them come from this lousy remake of the first talkie motion picture made. With his sweeping emotional ballads, you’d think Mr. Diamond would have been an acting natural, but in this case, he seems to be nothing more than the exception that proves the rule.
Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
In a role that was more or less custom made to fit her gargantuan cup size, she’s admittedly playing herself. But Parton is too likable and too natural in her performance to criticize. It’s not easy to play opposite heavyhitters such as two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda and Oscar-nominated comedienne Lily Tomlin, but she holds her own, and steals every scene she’s in. This megahit movie of 1980 was the first of the country superstar’s several hit movies.
Eminem – 8 Mile
Whether or not you like Eminem, he owns it. This is exactly the type of performance someone like Justin Timberlake only wishes he could have pulled off in his debut. The movie was a surprise smash at the box office, and though he hasn’t made much since, he left us wanting much, much more.
Mark Wahlberg – Boogie Nights
This movie proved Marky Mark was more than just another underwear model. Who would have thought he’d actually have charisma? The movie itself has gone on to becoming a cult classic, and Wahlberg has gone on to starring in a broad range of movies from actions, comedies, thrillers, to crime dramas.
Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender
Okay, okay so this movie is kind of a musical. BUT! It was intended to be a straight acting role for Elvis and they only added the few musical numbers due to the immense popularity of the title song. Besides, its musical numbers are not plot-driven nor are they wildly choreographed. He just sings a few ditties. But putting Elvis in movies was clearly a smart move, seeing that he might be the only actor in history who never starred in a movie that didn’t turn a profit.
Beyonce – Austin Powers in Goldmember
It’s surprisingly difficult to comprise a list of good acting debuts, so here’s one that is somewhat lukewarm. We are the first to admit that she’s probably not going to win an Academy Award anytime soon, but Beyonce has proven herself to be a reliable box office star. Here she manages to be perhaps the least irritating (and most charismatic) female counterpart to Mr. Meyers’ relentless Mr. Powers. Thankfully, she doesn’t overexpose herself to the film medium and chooses a wide variety of roles. So while she’s not great, at least she’s not annoying.
Please note: As she is the current recipient of more Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Actress than any other person, we felt mentioning Madonna would be nothing but a waste of time.
Have any best/worst singer/actor transition? Let us know!