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Top 11 Novelty Songs by Actors
Disclaimer: “Top” may be a misnomer for some of these thespian tunes, our Top 11 Best, Worst, and Most Infamous Songs By Actors.
“Look, let’s start from the beginning. First, you have to know how to sing. I didn’t.”
— Scott Baio
- “Cry Baby” by Jamie Lynn-Sigler
Jamie Lynn-Sigler portrayed mob daughter Meadow Soprano on the hit HBO series The Sopranos. Sigler’s first and only album, Here to Heaven, was released in 2001. Its single was “Cry Baby.” Sigler told the Post-Star that people refused to see her as a singer.
“I go and do radio interviews and I’m more than willing to talk about The Sopranos as long as we talk about the music too, and there have been instances where we do a radio interview and they call me Meadow the whole time. I don’t want to be rude, but let that go for at least 20 minutes, my gosh.”
The album was a critical and commercial flop. Sigler later confessed in Vegas magazine that “there was no creative process at all. It was a very packaged thing, and people were wanting to capitalize on The Sopranos. I take responsibility — I was part of it — but I hated every moment of it. I was faking it the whole time.”
- “Respect Yourself” by Bruce Willis
In the 1980s, Patrick Swayze, Daryl Hannah, Eddie Murphy, Don Johnson and Bruce Willis parlayed their success as actors into recording careers. Willis had a Top 5 hit in 1987 with “Respect Yourself,” a version of the Staple Singers’ soul classic.
“Respect Yourself” was written by Stax Records singer Luther Ingram and songwriter Sir Mack Rice. The song reached No. 12 on the Billboard chart in 1971.
Willis recorded “Respect Yourself” as a duet with June Pointer; the Pointer Sisters contributed background vocals. “Respect Yourself” was a Top 20 single from 1987’s The Return of Bruno, recorded by Willis on Motown Records.
“Respect Yourself” by Bruce Willis
“Respect Yourself” by the Staple Singers
- “The Transformed Man” by William Shatner
“The Transformed Man” is the title cut from William Shatner’s 1968 debut LP. The album was released during Shatner’s run as Captain Kirk on TV’s Star Trek.
In the album’s liner notes, Shatner recalls discussing music with cinematographer Cliff Ralke on the set of Star Trek. “One day Cliff brought me a song, ‘Elegy For The Brave,’ and a poem, ‘Transformed Man,’ by Frank Davenport. As I read over the material, I felt an immediate identification. I knew that was the work of a truly gifted poet, a first-rate talent, and I wanted to do something with it.
“The recording sessions were a tremendous thrill,” Shatner wrote. “The thrill I got from hearing this album all the way through was deeper and more satisfying than anything I had ever experienced.”
“The idea of The Transformed Man was to take classical literature and put music behind it, perform it and then segue into literature of the present day,” Shatner told Billboard, “which were some of those good songs that had good words to it and of course music so the material in the classical literature would either affirm the meaning of the song or be in contrast to the song.”
- “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze
“She’s Like the Wind” was written in 1984 by Patrick Swayze and Nashville songwriter Stacy Widelitz for the movie Grandview U.S.A. The song was later cut from the film. Widelitz recalled in the Tennessean that Swayze called him in 1986 during the shooting of Dirty Dancing. “I played the demo of ‘She’s Like the Wind’ for the producers of Dirty Dancing,” Swayze told him, “and they really like it, and they want to use it.”
“The word on the street was this was a very low-budget movie that was going to go straight to video after one week in the theater,” Widelitz recalled. “After it was recorded, the movie was shot, and it still didn’t come out for almost another year. Then it was really off my radar . . . then the movie came out and it debuted at No. 4 at the box office.”
Dirty Dancing became one of the most successful movie soundtracks of all time. “She’s Like the Wind” reached No. 3 on the Billboard chart in 1987.
- “Don’t Give Up On Us” by David Soul
David Soul’s best-known role was Detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in the 1970s TV series Starsky & Hutch. Soul, who had been a singer early in his career, recorded the No. 1 hit “Don’t Give Up On Us” in 1977. The tune was written by Tony Macaulay, who penned “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” for the Foundations.
“I made an album in San Francisco for Private Stock but there was nothing suitable for a single,” Soul recalled in 1000 UK Number One Hits. “The company told me that Tony Macaulay had some good tunes and he came over and played me ‘Don’t Give Up on Us’ and ‘Going in With My Eyes Wide Open.’ Within 10 days, I had learnt the songs and recorded them and Tony had mixed them and taken them back to England. They bazoomed to the top and they are two songs which have stood the test of time.”
Although he had a number of European hits in the 1970s, “Don’t Give Up On Us” was Soul’s only single to reach the Top 40 in the U.S.
- “Let’s Get Together” by Hayley Mills
British actress Hayley Mills played twin sisters in the 1961 Disney film The Parent Trap. Mills was 15 when she recorded “Let’s Get Together,” which she sang as both sisters in the film. The song was written by brothers Richard and Robert Sherman. When released as a single later that year, it was credited to “Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills,” a nod to her dual roles.
Mills had an unlikely Top 10 hit with “Let’s Get Together” in 1961. “We put that into the picture and Hayley Mills had a huge hit with it,” Richard Sherman told Performing Songwriter. “By the way, the ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ was before the Beatles did ‘she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.'”
- “Heartbeat” by Don Johnson
“Heartbeat” is the title song of Don Johnson’s 1986 debut album. The actor burst onto the scene in 1984 as James “Sonny” Crockett, a stylish detective featured in TV’s Miami Vice. The song was written by Eric Kaz and Wendy Waldman and first recorded by Waldman in 1982. Johnson’s version eclipsed Waldman’s, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard chart.
Johnson told the Los Angeles Times that the move from singing to acting was accepted as a “natural evolutionary course, but the other way around seems to be a big taboo. I reject that. I’m going to keep making records as long as somebody will let me.”
Johnson recorded a second album, 1989’s Let It Roll, but never duplicated the success of “Heartbeat.”
“Heartbeat” by Don Johnson
“Heartbeat” by Wendy Waldman
- “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)” by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes
Six years before the Beatles arrived in the US, Edd Byrnes was the teenage heartthrob on TV’s 77 Sunset Strip. Byrnes played Gerald Lloyd Kookson III, or Kookie, a jive-talking parking valet who spent much of his day talking jive and combing his hair. Kookie, who coined expressions like “you’re the ginchiest,” was the show’s breakout character when it debuted in 1958.
Byrnes capitalized on his success when he recorded “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)” with Connie Stevens in 1959. The song, written by Irving Taylor, included Kookie-isms like “piling up the Z’s” and “smog in my noggin.” The novelty song was a smash, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard chart.
- “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx
“Blame It” was the second and most successful single from Jamie Foxx’s third studio album, Intuition. The song, which features rapper T-Pain, was a No. 2 hit in 2008. The blame here goes to alcohol for reducing a girl’s inhibitions.
Singer-songwriter Nate Walka co-wrote “Blame It” after he heard his grandmother on the phone complaining about his uncle. “That’s when the idea of the song came to me,” Walka explained on his website. “It was so obvious, it was a cool concept. I started Googling to see if anyone had come up with a song about this, and didn’t find anything, so came up with the hook and the rest just unfolded.”
The “Blame It” video, which became BET’s No. 1 music video of 2009, featured Samuel L. Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ron Howard.
- “What Was in That Kiss?” by Scott Baio
Scott Baio became a teen heartthrob as Fonzie’s cousin Charles “Chachi” Arcola on the hit TV series Happy Days. Baio proved so popular that in 1982 he starred in Joanie Love Chachi, a Happy Days spinoff. After Happy Days wrapped in 1984, Baio starred as a nanny in the popular sitcom Charles in Charles.
Baio’s popularity with teenage girls prompted RCA to have him record two albums, 1982’s self-titled debut and 1983’s The Boys Are Out Tonight. “What Was in That Kiss?” was the single off the first LP. Although Baio did his part to promote his albums on shows like American Bandstand, songs like “How Do You Talk to Girls?” and “Woman, I Love Only You” ensured the albums’ quick demise.
“Look, let’s start from the beginning,” Baio told Entertainment Weekly about “What Was in That Kiss?” “First, you have to know how to sing. I didn’t. You couple it with ‘Woman, I Love Only You” and it’s pretty bad. It was a no-win situation. What was in that kiss? Money.”
“What Was in That Kiss?” by Scott Baio
“Woman, I Love Only You” by Scott Baio
- “Hooked on a Feeling” by David Hasselhoff
David Hasselhoff became famous as crime fighter Michael Knight on TV’s Knight Rider and lifeguard Mitch Buchannon on Baywatch. You wouldn’t know it from the American charts, but the waterlogged hunk has had a hugely successful singing career in Europe since the 1980s. He has released 14 studio albums, including No. 1 LPs in Austria and Sweden.
One of Hasselhoff’s best-known singles in his 1997 recording of “Hooked on a Feeling.” The song was originally recorded by B. J. Thomas, who reached No. 5 on the Billboard chart in 1969. Swedish group Blue Swede, with its “ooga chaka” introduction, also scored with the track in 1974. Although The Hoff’s take was never a hit, its hilarious video has been viewed more than 15 million times.