10 Obscure Albums by Actors from Comic Movies and TV Shows

By Jesse Thompson in Daily Lists, Miscellaneous
Friday, May 13, 2011 at 8:04 am
When it comes to go-to material for enthusiasts of snark, "celebrities who have made albums" will always be a bountiful shaft to mine. Snarky geeks are certainly no exception, and love to get in on the act by comparing notes on the best/worst efforts from Star Trek cast members (Shatner, Nimoy, Spiner and even Nichelle Nichols have been convinced to kill a few hours/credibility notches in a recording studio) or the most oddball releases from noted nerd icons (everyone from 2001 star Keir Dullea to The Fifth Element's Milla Jovovich has been put on wax). These days the debates rage on, as noted comic-book über-geek Donald Glover has been everywhere promoting the hip-hop he's recorded under the moniker Childish Gambino, and lovingly lethargic Tron: Legacy big daddy Jeff Bridges is prepping a new album for the summer (fingers crossed that Michael McDonald, who appeared on Bridges' debut in 2000, drops back in).

For the most part, actors from comic-book film and television adaptations have emerged from the heckling relatively unscathed. We all know of Surrogates/Red star Bruce Willis' foray into whitewashed blues and Constantine embarrassment Keanu Reeves' repeated attempts to get people to care about his band Dogstar.(even Ghost World/Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson caused a bit of a stir when her vanity project turned out to be an album's worth of Tom Waits covers). But, as you'll see below, there are others who have either released a "one and done" flop that thankfully went away quickly, or who have quietly been making music that no one really gives a shit about for decades. We're actually not sure which category is worse.

10) Lynda Carter, Portrait
Hard as it may be to believe, the former Wonder Woman star is the most relevant entry on this list, as she just released a new album of smoky pop standards on April 26th... only her third album in 30+ years (good news: She's on tour!). But Carter came from a musical background, playing in bands with names like Just Us and The Relatives before winning the Miss World USA pageant that kicked off her acting career. By 1978 she'd mustered enough star power to throw a lasso around Epic Records and demand they book her some studio time. Portrait is pretty much your standard harmless late-'70s pop, but at least Carter made the effort to co-write three songs in between covering banal tunes like Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman." Die-hard Wonder Woman fans likely remember Diana Prince belting two songs from this album in the 1979 episode "Amazon Hot Wax," which at face value sounds like the most amazing thing that's aired on television ever.

9) P (Featuring Johnny Depp), P
A few years before Alan Moore wrote Johnny Depp's name on a pebble and cast a spell on him for appearing in From Hell, and in-between making a couple of decent Tim Burton flicks, Depp played lead guitar and some bass on this throwaway alt-rock trifle. A supergroup of sorts (if you count Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes, a moonlighting Flea and Sex Pistol Steve Jones as "super"), 1995's P gained some notoriety for their occasional gigs at L.A.'s Viper Room (which Depp co-owned at the time) and for their song "Michael Stipe," which name-dropped River Phoenix and, legend has it, was the song the band happened to be playing on stage while Phoenix was dying on the Viper Room's sidewalk in 1993. Two years later, Depp and Co. convinced Capitol Records to release their debut, which was met with the same muted enthusiasm as most of Depp's mid-'90s films (did anyone out there actually see Nick of Time in a theater? Anyone?). Though indie label Caroline reissued the album in 2007 to cash in on Pirates sequel mania, Depp hasn't made any music for public consumption since, save for his singing in Sweeney Todd. Seems like we all have Alan Moore to thank for that.

8) Alan Cumming, I Bought a Blue Car Today
X2, Josie & the Pussycats and, er, Son of the Mask vet Alan Cumming is undoubtedly a multi-talented guy, and his portrayal of Nightcrawler was inspired and captivating (and these days, sorely missed). But in 2009, the Tony-winning actor must've been sick of hearing everyone praise fellow mutie/Broadway singing star Hugh Jackman, as I Bought a Blue Car Today could practically be subtitled "Hey, Hey, Look Over Here! Look Look Look!" Cumming seemed to be trying waaay too hard here, regurgitating a couple of the showtunes that made him famous, leapfrogging from electro to punk to theatrical pop, and tossing in a Cyndi Lauper cover, which, at the risk of sounding bigoted, ostensibly seems like an easy please for his multitude of gay fans. But hey, at least things like making albums distract him from actually appearing in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (he was attached to play the Green Goblin) and making more of those weird cologne commercials).

7) Cesar Romero, Songs by a Latin Lover
Most of the principle players of the '60s Batman TV series had some flirtation with the music industry. While Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar were actually accomplished vocalists, their co-stars weren't nearly as lucky. In 1976, Adam West teamed with the tiny Target Records label to record a three-minute Batman episode set to the music of an ABBA knockoff; Frank Gorshin released a 45 in character as the Riddler (called..."The Riddler"); and MGM dragged teen idol Burt Ward into the studio for a couple of notoriously atrocious singles in 1966, conducted and arranged by a pre-fame Frank Zappa. But nearly a decade before refusing to shave his mustache to play the Joker, "Latin lover" leading man Cesar Romero cut an entire album of seductive, cinematic tunes, many of which sounded like this. Romero's singing voice wasn't too shabby, and we applaud him for (judging by the cover) telling Just For Men to fuck off, but we'd be far more excited for an entire album's worth of this.

6) Clarissa and the Straitjackets (featuring Melissa Joan Hart), This Is What "Na Na" Means
Melissa Joan Hart was already pretty much a beloved geek icon by the time she starred in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, thanks in no small part to the three years she put in on Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All. During those three years, Nick roped her into doing a lot of stupid crap, like recording this seven-song EP in character in '94 as Clarissa that frustratingly never explains what "na na" actually means. The "profound" sentiments expressed on tracks such as "I Want a Car" and "Wishing for Rain" certainly don't help matters (nor does the between-song banter of Clarissa and best friend Piper), but producer Rachel Sweet (composer of the Clarissa theme song) keeps things moving along briskly, and Hart doesn't embarrass herself completely...though it's easy to see why she enlisted pal Britney Spears to sing the theme to Drive Me Crazy a few years later. And least Joey Lawrence was nowhere to be found, right?
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