Hollywood celebrities boast some of the greatest talents and gifts you’ll ever see. But sometimes… their reach exceeds their grasp.
Here are some of the most embarrassing, cringeworthy side projects celebrities have ever tried. We should probably cancel “the blues,” right?
During comedy superstar Eddie Murphy’s unparalleled run on Saturday Night Live, he had a recurring sketch as James Brown singing and dancing in a hot tub. Apparently, that wasn’t just a sketch. Murphy wanted to do some earnest singing and dancing.
Murphy… wanted to party all the time.
So he teamed up with funk maestro Rick James and dropped “Party All the Time.” It’s a cheery pop tune — and just a little sillier than it should be. Murphy went on to make a good amount of other music, including “Boogie in Your Butt.”
In The Sixth Sense, we learned that Bruce Willis was dead the entire time. In real life, we learned that Bruce Willis was… Bruno the entire time. Confused yet?
Take a listen to The Return of Bruno, which is, weirdly, Willis’ first album of white-guy blues — complete with harmonica solos.
Willis, sometimes slipping into his Bruno alter ego, sometimes as himself, has a history of affecting a blues voice and blustering his way through some generic rock riffs.
Our favorite piece of Willis music? Blues Traveler’s song “Free Willis (Ruminations from Behind Uncle Bob’s Machine Shop).” Yes… that is real.
The truth is out there for The X-Files star David Duchovny. We just wish “the truth” didn’t involve pretentious, wish-fulfillment singer-songwriter stylings.
His musical career almost feels like something his Californication character would accidentally get involved in. But it’s all real!
Hell or Highwater is Duchovny’s debut album. It’s an alt-country affair, with bluesy riffs and gravelly vocals. Duchovny only started playing guitar four years before making the record, and given his lack of singing experience, hired a vocal coach for this album.
All of this… shows.
You know him, you love him, you’ve made fun of his curious cadence when delivering lines. It’s William Shatner, baby!
He’s garnered an eccentric reputation since bursting down spaceship doors as Captain Kirk in Star Trek. And he brought all his eccentricities in full force in his music.
Here’s a hot take: His spoken-word album Has Been, produced and co-written by Ben Folds, absolutely rules, especially the opening cover of “Common People.” His other musical affairs, like his bizarre cover of “Rocket Man”?
Um… we plead the fifth.
The Simple Life? Paris Hilton’s life seems anything but.
From being a party-ready hotel heiress socialite, to being a reality star and movie actor, to selling hair extensions (seriously), Hilton has dabbled in everything her heart desires. And that includes… bubbly pop music.
For her 2006 album Paris, Hilton hired a murderer’s row of talent. And TBQH, lead single “Stars Are Blind” is a lovely reggae-tinged tune. That didn’t stop Banksy from messing with Hilton CDs in UK record stores, replacing them with cheeky songs like “Why Am I Famous?”
Scarlett Johansson is one of our most acclaimed, most profitable actors working today. She also can’t help but get herself into controversies, from Ghost in the Shell (2017) to stanning Woody Allen.
One of her lesser known controversies? Anywhere I Lay My Head.
It’s Johansson’s debut album, where she covers Tom Waits songs over sleepy productions. Whereas Waits sings with over-the-top grit and urgency, Johannson croons like a less committed Lana del Rey. However — when Johannson teamed up with a member of HAIM to make The Singles, their single “Candy” absolutely slapped.
On the basketball court? Yes, obviously, Shaquille O’Neal is one of the undeniable GOATs. But when it comes to, like, any other professional venture, he flops harder than himself at the free throw line.
Aaron Carter may have beat Shaq on the court… but Shaq beat himself everywhere else.
O’Neal’s put out five terrible rap albums, starred in terrible movies (from Kazaam to Grown Ups 2), and endorses any dang product that comes his way. We’ll give this to him: his comedic chemistry with Charles Barkley on TNT is top notch.
If you are a superfan of Jeremy Renner, we’re happy he makes you happy. Our honest question, without judgment: Did you need an entire app devoted to him?
Renner thought so, debuting Jeremy Renner Official in 2019… and shutting it down in 2019.
One of the app’s features was an image of Renner appearing with fan-made messages that looked like he was saying them. And it didn’t take long for pranksters to flood the app with embarrassing fake quotes. Renner announced on Instagram that “the app has jumped the shark. Literally.”
Onscreen, Kiefer Sutherland is best known for a tougher-than-tough image. From Stand By Me to The Lost Boys to 24, Sutherland radiates with unpredictable, borderline dangerous energy.
When he tries to translate that to country music… it all becomes a little silly.
Take “This Is How It’s Done,” off his second album. It aches to be a real message of debauchery and rebellion. It’s just so overdone! And his singing voice is so polished and auto-tuned! Why does he feel so authentic as an actor and so unbelievable as a singer?
It brings us no joy to speak ill of Rita Wilson. She is an underrated actor who brings verve to her roles in Jingle All the Way and Girls.
So believe us when we say we regret to inform you that her music career is… “fine.”
Wilson has achieved a level of fame and enjoyment based solely on her music. She’s opened for Chicago and performed on many talk shows. But all of her country-tinged tunes just don’t quite resonate with authenticity.
Even still, you can tell she’s having fun. And maybe that’s enough.
Usually, Garth Brooks is an incredibly successful country artist. From “Friends in Low Places” to “Longneck Bottle,” he pumps out crossover hits that rival Elvis Presley and The Beatles in their chart-topping ubiquity.
Yep, it’s safe to say that Brooks is satisfied with who he is!
Except… in 1999, he created an alter ego, Chris Gaines. A moody, eye-liner and emo-hair sporting pop star, who didn’t sing country at all. He was widely ridiculed, but you know what? “Lost In You” is a bop. And Childish Gambino helped us see that when he covered it.
James L. Dolan
Don’t know who James L. Dolan is? You’ve definitely participated in something he owns. Dolan is a mega-rich businessman, has owned countless sports teams, and currently owns Madison Square Garden. He’s worth more money than you’ll ever see in your life. What else could he need?
Apparently, fronting a truly horrible blues rock band called JD & The Straight Shot. He uses his connections to play Madison Square Garden, find the best session musicians to support his not great singing voice, and makes his employees watch. He even wrote a song about his relationship with Harvey Weinstein!
No, we’re not going to belittle Hulk Hogan’s acting choices. In trying to transition from being a wrestling superstar to a film superstar, Hogan made cheesy family flicks like Suburban Commando and Mr. Nanny, and they’re all “fun enough.” Instead… we’re talking about the Hulkster’s foray into food.
In 1995, at the peak of Hulkamania, Hogan created an Italian restaurant called PastaMania in the Mall of America. All the dishes had names like Hulk-A-Roos and Hulk-U’s. The restaurant was heavily promoted on WCW’s Monday Nitro programming, but it lasted less than a year.
Kim Basinger: What an actor! Batman? 8 Mile? Her Oscar-winning turn in L.A. Confidential? Forget about it!
You know what Basinger is less good at, though? Owning a city. Yes, that’s right: If you’re a famous enough person, you can apparently buy a city.
In 1989, Basinger bought Braselton, Georgia for $20 million. She’s from Georgia, and wanted to help develop her small town into a tourist destination. Instead, everything went haywire, and she filed for bankruptcy, selling the town back. Basinger told Barbara Walters quite frankly that “nothing good came out of it.”
“I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you?” We all remember the famous, semi-improvised speech from Goodfellas. None of us would dare say “yes.”
Except… and just in this one specific instance, Joe Pesci… you are funny like a clown, and you do amuse us.
Pesci put out an album in character as Vincent Gambini from My Cousin Vinny. It’s called Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You, and it features some jazz covers and some weird originals. It’s not so great!
Interestingly, Pesci was a lounge singer before becoming an actor.
Normally, when comedy icon Rodney Dangerfield says he “can’t get no respect,” it’s to tag a very good, respectable joke. But in one case, he truly didn’t deserve our respect.
To paraphrase his famous line from Caddyshack: Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get embarrassed!
Dangerfield released “Rappin’ Rodney” in 1983. It is, we are afraid to report, Rodney Dangerfield rapping his one-liners over an old-school beat and women cooing “No respect, no respect.” Despite having bonafide hip-hop songwriters who helped write Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” on it, it’s very bad.
Steven Seagal is known for being good at punching and kicking people on a movie screen. But there’s more to this enigmatic figure than meets the eye. Two albums more.
Sorry Seagal — when it comes to vanity musical projects, no one is Above the Law.
His first album, Songs From the Crystal Cave, is a collection of reggae-tinged jams that feature notable musicians like Stevie Wonder. His second record, Mojo Priest, is a bluesier affair, featuring icons like Bo Diddley.
Our favorite song title of his? “Talk To My Ass.”
Robert Downey Jr.
“There are no second acts in American lives”? Sorry, F. Scott Fitzgerald: Robert Downey Jr. proved you wrong.
He came back to Hollywood after a publicized battle with addiction to become its king. To become friggin’ Iron Man! He just… maybe shouldn’t make music anymore.
In 2004, Downey released an album called The Futurist. It’s jazzy, soft, and poppy, featuring both tunes written by Downey and covers. While Downey does have a pretty lovely, effortless voice, Downey said that he likely won’t make any more albums, citing a desire to spend time with his family.
Johnny Depp has been on one of Hollywood’s wildest arcs. He started as an indie star (Edward Scissorhands), transformed into a marquee idol (Pirates of the Caribbean), and is now mostly seen as an abusive alcoholic (real life). Along the way, he’s also made music. And it’s… curious.
Hollywood Vampires doesn’t just feature Depp. It has, at times, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh, and freaking Paul McCartney. They play throwback heavy rock as a tribute to men who used to live hard and make hard music.
It is… unfortunate to watch.
We all know Will Smith started as a rapper. And his son Jaden currently makes sensitive hip-hop bangers. But did you know that dynasty’s matriarch, Jada Pinkett-Smith, is a musician, too?
Get your headbanging neck stretches in: It’s time to Set it Off.
Using the stage name Jada Koren, Smith is the frontwoman and founder of Wicked Wisdom, an aggressive nu-metal band. Whoa! Their music is crunchy, raw, vulgar, and loud. They’ve opened for Britney Spears and played Ozzfest.
Is… is Jada Pinkett-Smith the coolest person alive?
One of Hollywood’s greatest and most vulnerable tough guys, winning the Oscar for Gladiator, Russell Crowe drew atypically bad reviews for his singing work in Les Miserables.
But if you’ve been following his career closely, you shouldn’t have been surprised.
Crowe fronted 30 Odd Foot of Grunts from the ‘80s to the mid-2000s, and they released several albums of bluesy bar rock that Crowe sort of… bellowed over. Later, the band transitioned into The Ordinary Fear of God, which is an even more pretentious name for Crowe’s musical fantasies.
Yes, just about everything Keanu Reeves gets in involved with rules. From Bill and Ted to The Matrix to Toy Story 4 to Always Be My Maybe to John Wick to “being an all-around outstanding human citizen on this planet earth”… Just about everything.
The key words being “just about.”
Reeves played bass for Dogstar from the early ‘90s to the mid-2000s, his journey with the band creating an arc strangely parallel to his rising stardom. Their music fit in a “derivative alt-grunge” pocket, and Reeves left after a couple of albums to stick with acting, effectively ending the band.
Director, writer, actor, boxer… painter?
Okay, we all knew the first few were talents of Sylvester Stallone, the Oscar-nominated creative behind characters of cinematic iconography like Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. But when did he find the time to paint?
All the time, as it turns out. He exhibited his work in a gallery in 2015, and you know what? It’s pretty cool! It’s frenetic, highly colorful, aggressive, and even directly dialogues with his main career (one piece is called “Searching For Rocky”).
Good for you, Sly!
Naw, we ain’t about to talk bad about Space Jam. That movie rules, Michael Jordan rules in it, and Wayne Knight continues to be criminally underrated. But we are gonna talk about a key facet of Space Jam borrowed from Jordan’s real life.
He’s very good at basketball, we’ll give him that. But Jordan is objectively less good at baseball. That didn’t stop him from trying after his first NBA retirement. He played minor league baseball from 1994 through 1995, earning not so great numbers.
Patrick Stump, frontman of emo pioneers Fall Out Boy, said this about bandmate Pete Wentz: “It scares me sometimes, watching him. The two seconds you’re not with that dude he’s made 30 decisions that are going to affect our band for the rest of the year.”
Why’d he say that?
Here’s why: Wentz opened up a series of bars called Angels & Kings, so he, his buddies, and like-minded folks could hang out in peace. But the New York location closed down permanently in 2015 after three citations for serving minors.
This ain’t a scene, it’s a g**damn bad business practice.
Beyond his acting, video game appearances, and Vitamin Water endorsements, rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson had one business venture that went a little south. You know that song of his, “Magic Stick”? He tried to start a product with the same title.
We’ll give you three guesses what it is.
If you guessed “rubbers,” you’re right!
50 Cent wanted to create the perfect piece of birth control for fellas, but stopped the process when it didn’t live up to his vague standards: “I wanted things that would prolong sexual performance.” Maybe Sting could’ve helped him out?
From movies and TV to pop-hip-hop-country-crossover bangers, most everything Miley Cyrus touches turns to gold. It’s almost as if she “can’t stop” and “can’t be tamed.”
But in the case of her jewelry line, she probably wishes she would’ve used actual gold.
Cyrus codesigned a line of jewelry for Wal-Mart in 2010. But when scientists found many of the pieces contained cadmium, a highly toxic metal, they pulled the entire line from stores quickly. If children come into contact with cadmium, it can lower brain activity and cause cancer.
From Jaws to Jurassic Park to Indiana Jones, Steven Spielberg is the master of big-budget entertainment. But when he sunk some money into a crazy restaurant with a bonkers gimmick, it was in more aquatic trouble than an Amity Island swimmer.
“Dive!” The name of Spielberg’s $7 million restaurant styled to feel like a submarine. Every hour, the restaurateurs made the building “submerge,” using loud sirens and blacked out window effects to distract its patrons. One blunt customer review: “This restaurant makes me embarrassed to be a human.”
The politics and paths of “listening to music” over the years has been interesting. From radios to vinyl to tapes to CDs to mp3 players to streaming to… who knows what’s next!
Somewhere in there, rock pioneer Neil Young tried to make his own personal audio player. And… he failed.
In 2011, PonoMusic aimed to provide audiophiles with a portable audio player and music files that were of higher quality than an mp3. It cost $400 to buy a PonoPlayer. And from a scientific and anecdotal perspective, the Pono songs sounded exactly the same. The company folded in 2017.
Vince McMahon is responsible for running one of the most popular and influential entertainment companies in the world: World Wrestling Entertainment. His mark left on pop culture is remarkable and noteworthy. But when he tried to pivot to another sport, he got body-slammed.
The XFL came as NBC lost the rights to air NFL games in the early 2000s. So McMahon pitched them an intense version of football. And while “football with the theatrics of wrestling” sounds good on paper, the actual gameplay was messy and weirdly boring. It folded after one season.
The 30 Most Filthy Rich Actors and Actresses, Ranked
Most of us, at one point or another, have longed for greater fortunes. A bigger house, a nicer car. Or, at the very least, enough to pay the bills. Hollywood is chock full of loaded stars.
Not all of them have made the bulk of their dough performing in front of the camera. And some have opted to spend their earnings on some most peculiar things.
Let’s count down the richest living actors and actresses. We bet you’ll be shocked at how much some of them are worth.
The 30 Worst Performances From Typically Great Actors
There’s nothing like discovering a new favorite actor. A talented thespian who delivers consistently excellent performances. Until… they boink up. And they all boink up.
Here are the worst performances from 30 otherwise incredible actors. You know what? Everyone makes mistakes!
Classic Movies That Were A Nightmare to Make
Classic movies are a blast to watch, but many of them weren’t so fun to make.
Some of the most famous movies of all time were grueling experiences for the cast and crew. Read on to see which of your favorite movies were a total nightmare behind-the-scenes.