We’re always being told to stretch and push ourselves, to get out of our comfort zones and try something new. That’s generally good advice. But sometimes, you need to stick with what you’re good at. Not everyone can jump around and do it well.
Singers, though, don’t always take that advice. It seems every successful musician believes that they can and should conquer Hollywood, too. It might happen while they’re at the top of the charts in order to cash in a bit more on their popularity, but more often than not, it’s a last ditch effort to stretch their 15 minutes of fame into at least 16 minutes.
The results are usually less than stellar and often end up in the discount bin at your local Walmart. For every Cher (an Academy Award-winning Actress for Moonstruck) and Will Smith (the star of more than one international blockbuster, including Independence Day and the Men in Black series), there are a dozen musicians (and I use that term loosely for most of these people) that have featured in colossal flops. Bad writing, bad stories, bad direction, and most of all, bad acting from their star. Hell, even Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, while no one would confuse either one of them with Robert De Niro, made films that people at least enjoyed.
These singers? No. No one enjoyed these films. And if you read one and think to yourself, “That one wasn’t so bad,” stop. You’re wrong. They were worse.
It’s almost like a rite of passage and part of the famous singer lifecycle. Obscurity, to stardom, to super stardom, and finally to disappear with a whimper after starring in a horrible movie. That’s the goal. That’s the dream.
These films are 7 of the worst out there. They’re not the only ones, and God help us, there will be more.
1. Vanilla Ice in Cool As Ice (1991)
Remember Vanilla Ice (born Robert Van Winkle)? Unless you lived through the 80s, the answer is probably no. But if you did, it’s very likely that “Ice Ice Baby” was at one point “your jam”. The song, recorded in 1989, was a monster hit, and made Vanilla Ice one of the most famous rappers in the world (that is a sad, sad statement). But he had trouble creating a follow-up release. So, of course, he turned to movies.
Cool As Ice is a loose remake of The Wild One, the classic film starring Marlon Brando. The tagline: When a girl has a heart of stone, there’s only one way to melt it. Just add ice.
Seriously. That was the tagline. I’m not making this up. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 8% (the percentage of critics that gave the movie a positive review)! The movie bombed, and Vanilla Ice was essentially all-but-forgotten by 1994.
2. Mariah Carey in Glitter (2001)
Before I get angry letters and comments, a few caveats: 1) Mariah Carey is a gifted and talented singer, and 2) Yes, I know she’s still around. But she’s not exactly the superstar that she once was. Carey had a string of hits in the late 80s and through the 90s, but her appeal was waning by 2000. She was still touring and releasing records, but the reception wasn’t quite the same.
Perfect time to star in a bad movie, right? So, she did. Glitter was the story of Billie Frank, a shy but determined girl with dreams of becoming a singer (it was quite the acting challenge for her). The tagline: In music she found her dream, her love, herself. The audience, on the other hand, found nothing. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of only 7%...even lower than Cool As Ice. And that’s saying something...you have to be a special kind of terrible to rank below that film.
3. Britney Spears in Crossroads (2002)
Speaking of terrible, enter the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads. You know Britney. You might even (secretly) love Britney. She entered our pop consciousness at the tender age of 18 with her debut album, ...Baby One More Time, released in 1999. Her follow-up album was just as successful, and she was the best selling female “artist” of her day.
Which means she was legally obligated to make a crappy film. And Crossroads - with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 14% - is that crappy film. The tagline reminded us that “Dreams change. Friends are forever”. Yeah. That kind of crappy.
In one particularly cringe-worthy scene, Britney reads the lyrics to her song “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” as a poem...while sitting by a fire. And this was not a movie anyone saw or liked.
Britney went through some dark times following the film’s release, as her popularity and record sales fell, and she went completely batshit crazy for a spell. But she’s back, and currently headlining a Las Vegas show. You go, girl!
4. Madonna in Body of Evidence (1993)
Madonna was to pop music in the 80s (and arguably even the 90s) what Elvis Presley was to rock n’ roll in the 50s. The top. The best.
But she wanted to conquer films as much as she wanted a string of #1 hits. And she tried. Repeatedly. To be fair, she does have a few decent credits on her acting resume, including Dick Tracy, Desperately Seeking Susan, and A League of Their Own. But, and this is important, she was always a supporting player, and Madonna don’t play that. She wanted to be the star.
Attempting to ride on the coattails of the wildly successful erotic thriller Basic Instinct the year before, she starred in Body of Evidence in 1993. She played Rebecca in the film, and its tagline is simply awful: This is the murder weapon. Her name is Rebecca.
Wow. Her character is accused of killing a wealthy man...with sex. Rotten Tomatoes score is a bottom-of-the-barrel 6%. The movie tanked, the critics hated it, and no one saw it. Even a frequently nude Madonna was not enough to save this steaming turd. She made a handful of films in the years following it - with 1996’s Evita a mild success - but she essentially hung up her acting shoes after Swept Away (yet another critical and commercial failure) in 2002. Stick to music, Madge.
5. Christina Aguilera in Burlesque (2010)
Christina was the “real” singer counterpart to Britney in the 90s, releasing her debut album in 1999. The girl could belt it out! She could sing with the best of them. She released a string of successful albums and tours over the next decade, but her sixth release, Bionic in 2010, fell short of her previous sales numbers. She must have panicked, because she went the “bad movie” route that very same year.
Burlesque - co-starring Cher - tells the story of small-town Ali (Aguilera) who travels to Las Vegas and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by Tess (Cher). According to the tagline, “It takes a legend...to make a star.” You know what it doesn’t take? A genius to recognize this is a bad, bad film. To be fair, it has a decent score of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that’s not exactly a glowing recommendation.
Aguilera is still around, although not exclusively as a singer. She served as one of the celebrity coaches on NBC’s The Voice for four seasons, had a recurring character on the series Nashville, and is working on a new studio album.
6. Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) and Employee of the Month (2006)
A two-for-one entry, Jessica Simpson tried. She tried so hard to make it in the movies, but she just didn’t have the chops.
Simpson broke onto the scene in 1999 (it was a banner year for pretty blonde singers) with her girl-next-door looks and personality. There was no denying she could sing, and her Christian background and upbringing appealed to many fans turned off by the overt sexualization of her contemporaries like Britney Spears. She enjoyed some early success, and starred in a popular reality tv show with her then husband, but it was all disappearing by 2005. You already know what she did next…
Bad movies. Two of them. Up first was the reboot of the popular Dukes of Hazzard television show (Rotten Tomatoes score of 13%) and Employee of the Month (20% on Rotten Tomatoes), co-starring comic Dane Cook, in 2006. Neither one made her the next Meryl Streep. Shocking, I know. Both had potential and promise, but didn’t deliver. And with a tagline like “Cousins. Outlaws. Thrillbillies.” for The Dukes of Hazzard, was anyone really surprised? No. No, they were not.
She has since been a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, appeared on several reality television shows, and even continues to record music (that practically no one has heard).
See Also: Celebrity Entrepreneurs
We could go on. How about Aaron Carter (remember him? Me neither) in 2005’s Popstar?
It’s a film so bad there isn’t even a score on Rotten Tomatoes. Or The Spice Girls in Spice World? They thought it would be a modern-day classic in the style of A Hard Day’s Night. One problem, though...the Spice Girls are NOT The Beatles.
Singers should be singers. This disturbing trend of jumping ship (and the shark) to films in the twilight of their careers needs to stop. Won’t somebody think of the children?!
Enough is enough. Sing, damn it, sing. At this rate, it won’t be long before we see Taylor Swift playing Lady Macbeth and Justin Bieber in Death of a Salesman.
Please make it stop.