9 singers who never should’ve tried acting & 8 others we’re really glad did

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From belting out chart-toppers to chasing Oscar glory, many singers have tried to juggle the worlds of music and film. Some have seamlessly transitioned, wowing us with performances as memorable as their songs. 

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The singers we wish had just stuck to singing

For every showstopper, there’s another who hits a flat note on the big screen. Let’s dive into 9 singers who might’ve been better off sticking to the microphone and 8 others who proved they’re just as adept in front of a camera as they are in the recording booth.”

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1. Britney Spears

In 2002, at the peak of her pop reign, Britney Spears swapped her microphone for a script with “Crossroads,” a coming-of-age drama penned by the then-upcoming Shonda Rhimes. Let’s just say no one was clamoring for Britney to “hit us one more time.” Although the movie performed decently at the box office, critics were not impressed. “It’s a little eerie how machinelike Ms. Spears often appears,” wrote The New York Times, hinting at an industry-manufactured image of an all-American girl. After “Crossroads,” Spears had a brief role on “How I Met Your Mother,” but did not return to acting thereafter.

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2. Jessica Simpson

When Jessica Simpson had us all scratching our heads over the tuna-chicken debacle on “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” we took it in stride. But her attempt to fill Catherine Bach’s iconic Daisy Duke boots in the 2005 film “The Dukes of Hazzard”? Well, that was a harder pill to swallow.  Her performance garnered her a handful of Razzie nominations. The subsequent year saw her back in the Razzie spotlight with “Employee of the Month,” which The New York Times described with a trifecta of “bad” — from its dialogue to its performances.

Simpson — not the one to give up — showcased her determination with 2007’s “Blonde Ambition.” Its opening day was, to put it mildly, underwhelming, drawing only 48 viewers and raking in a mere $384, which TV Guide labeled as one of the most dismal box office debuts ever. As if to cap off this rocky cinematic journey, 2008 brought “The Love Guru,” a film that faced critique so harshly, it was dubbed “The Citizen Kane of terrible movies.”

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3. 50 Cent

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson made the leap from hip-hop to Hollywood with the semi-autobiographical film “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” in 2005. Critics weren’t exactly throwing Oscars his way, with many feeling his performance was as flat as a deflated G-Unit sneaker. Still, Fiddy’s acting ambition didn’t stop. He ventured into a series of roles, some alongside heavyweight actors, and others in… well, let’s just say more “straight-to-DVD” ventures. 

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4. Vanilla Ice

With a number-one hit and a catchy tune, Vanilla Ice was riding high on his musical success. So why not try acting, right? Enter “Cool as Ice” (1991), a film where Vanilla Ice played Johnny, a rapper (surprise, surprise!) with slick dance moves and a motorcycle.

Ice’s acting chops were, let’s just say, not as cool as his rapping. While his on-stage persona was smooth and confident, his on-screen presence was anything but. Critics described his acting as stiff and awkward, with lines delivered as though he were reading off a teleprompter. While he dabbled in a few cameos afterward, his dreams of silver-screen stardom cooled swiftly.

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5. Kelly Clarkson

Winning “American Idol” might seem like an immediate ticket to stardom, but it often comes with strings attached. Take Kelly Clarkson, the iconic first winner, for instance. Along with the glory of her win, she was contractually obliged to take on roles she hadn’t envisioned, including leading the 2003 film “From Justin to Kelly”. She later opened up about her reluctance, revealing that she had foreseen the film’s lack of potential but had to fulfill her commitments from the “Idol” win.

Her film journey began even before that with a modest role in the lesser-known romantic dramedy “Issues 101” in 2002. However, after the “From Justin to Kelly” deabcle, her on-screen ventures took a backseat. Her subsequent forays into film, such as the 2020 hit “Trolls World Tour,” saw her in voice roles, leveraging her singing prowess more than her acting skills.

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6. Carrie Underwood

With album sales through the roof, Grammy awards galore, and a chart-topping track record, Carrie Underwood is essentially the “queen bee” of Idol alumni. But when she tried her hand in acting “Soul Surfer,” the feedback wasn’t quite as stellar. E!’s Peter Paras noted, “Underwood can be a fantastic singer… but she is not an actress.” She didn’t close the door on acting, mentioning to AP News that she’d never say “never” to the right role.

Enter her headline role in NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live.” While her vocals soared, The Washington Post remarked, “it’s impossible not to notice that she can’t act.” So, while she’s sprinkled in a few acting gigs here and there, like a guest spot on “How I Met Your Mother”, it’s clear that her forte is in music. Maybe, sometimes, it’s just best to dance (or sing!) with the one that brought you.

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7. Christina Aguilera

In 2010, everyone was excited about Christina Aguilera’s movie debut as she starred alongside Cher, yet another singer-turned-actor in “Burlesque.”  But, the film’s debut didn’t meet the built-up hype. And it seemed as if the Genie in the Bottle betrayed the iconic singer.  New York Times noted despite Aguilera’s vocal prowess she gave a “dutiful, stolid performance,” in a movie that was a far cry from “Showgirls” or “Chicago.” Yet, this film blip didn’t push Aguilera away from acting entirely. She reappeared on the small screen with a stint in “Nashville” in 2015. Talking about it to ABC News, she remarked, “I enjoy roles that I can genuinely connect with.” While it’s uncertain if we’ll see more of Aguilera the actress, her foray into film has been undeniably memorable.

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8. The Weeknd

The sultry voice behind numerous chart-topping hits is now aiming for the silver screen. In HBO’s highly controversial 2023 release, “The Idol,” The Weeknd (also known as Abel Tesfaye) delves into acting, taking on the role of the Svengali-esque Tedros. However, his performance appears to be less than compelling, with many feeling it lacks conviction. His efforts, however, seem less than magnetic, offering a performance that many find lacking in conviction.. he series, already surrounded by a maelstrom of rumors and allegations, saw the spotlight further intensified with opinions on Tesfaye’s acting skills — or the alleged lack thereof. Social media was ablaze with comments, one Twitter user being particularly blunt, stating, “The Weeknd’s acting skills are nonexistent.” 

Tesfaye co-created “The Idol,”  illustrating his deep involvement, but the end result leaves us questioning if this was a step too ambitious.

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9. Ed Sheeran

When it comes to Ed Sheeran’s foray into acting, even when he portrays himself, his performance often comes across as awkward and stiff. Sheeran first appeared in a guest role on the New Zealand soap opera “Shortland Street” back in 2014. It was a quick pop-in, but he played himself, so no heavy lifting required.Singers We’re Really Glad Tried ActingMost notably, his appearance in “Yesterday” by Danny Boyle saw him delivering a performance that many deemed emotionless and almost robotic. It left audiences wondering whether he was aiming for laughs or portraying a darker, more sinister character.

However, “Yesterday” wasn’t Sheeran’s only brush with the acting world. His cameo in the popular series “Game of Thrones” was both surprising and controversial. As a Lannister soldier serenading fellow troops with his soothing voice, Sheeran’s brief stint on the show became a hot topic of discussion. While some fans appreciated the pop star’s unexpected appearance, others felt it pulled them out of the show’s immersive medieval world.

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Singers we’re really glad tried acting

Then there are the standouts. The double- and triple-threats of entertainment who can seemingly do now wrong. Here are eight singers we’re really happy to watch in TV and film any chance we get.

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1. Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake technically started his onscreen career on the star-generating children’s TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club. But it took one failed boy band and several Grammy Award-winning albums as a solo artist before he established himself as a reputable actor. He garnered two Emmys for his guest appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and took on leading roles in movies such as “The Social Network,” “Bad Teacher,” “Friends With Benefits,” “Alpha Dog,” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

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2. Cher

Nobody does it quite like Cher. Whatever she sets her mind to, be it singing, Broadway, or Hollywood, she excels. The mega pop star who seamlessly transitioned to the silver screen never failed to captivate audiences with her performances. 

Her role as a lovelorn widow in “Moonstruck” rightfully earned her an Oscar, but her talent shone just as brightly in other roles. 

She mesmerized as a vibrant single mother in “Mermaids,” demonstrated depth and resilience as a nuclear power plant worker in “Silkwood,” and bewitched us alongside her coven in “The Witches of Eastwick.” Given the brilliance of her acting endeavors, it’s a pity she didn’t grace the big screen more often after her Oscar triumph.

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3. Lady Gaga

Since she emerged in the early 2000s, Lady Gaga has shown she can sing, rock daring fashion, and, more recently, act with the best of them. Her performance in “A Star is Born” (2018) garnered her an Oscar nomination. Her roles have expanded with her riveting appearance in “American Horror Story,” earning a Golden Globe, and her compelling portrayal in “House of Gucci” (2021). 

Gaga’s talent shines both on stage and on screen. Embracing her role as a convicted yet effortlessly glamorous murderer, she displayed the full breadth of her acting chops. Moreover, her captivating performance in “House of Gucci” was a testament that, following her Oscar-nominated portrayal in “A Star Is Born,” she can masterfully step beyond roles mirroring her real-life pop icon persona.

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4. Will Smith

Long before he was confident enough to slap Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars, and then win one, Will Smith was on a different career path. In his teenage years, he paired up with Jeff Townes to form the iconic duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Their 1986 debut single, “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” gained significant attention. By 1987, their album, Rock the House, made its mark on the Billboard Top 200. In 1991, NBC created a sitcom specifically for Smith, titled “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Smith headlined the show for six seasons before transitioning to major Hollywood roles in films such as “Bad Boys” (1995), “Independence Day” (1996), and “Men in Black” (1997). He later received Oscar nominations for his roles in “Ali” (2001) and “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) and clinched his first Oscar for his portrayal of the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard” (2022).”

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5. David Bowie

From Ziggy Stardust’s wild charisma to the silver screen, David Bowie wasn’t just a musical legend but a heck of an actor too. Our “Starman” shined brightly in roles from “The Man Who Fell to Earth” to “Labyrinth,” and even in quirky flicks like “The Linguini Incident.” 

Just as he flipped through musical personas, Bowie danced through movie roles with that same chameleon-like magic. Whether he was singing or acting, Bowie always kept us guessing—and always left us in awe.

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6. Harry Styles

Harry Styles, once known primarily as the heartthrob from One Direction, showcased his acting chops in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed and Oscar-winning WWII epic, “Dunkirk” in 2017. Since then he has starred in  “My Policeman” (with The Crown’s Emma Corrin) and Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry, Darling” (with Florence Pugh).

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7. Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand’s role in “The Way We Were” (1973) is a classic example of a musician successfully crossing into acting.  But Streisand’s silver screen journey, began with “Funny Girl” (1968), demonstrated her as an actress capable of bridging raw emotion with powerful vocal talent. 

Her performance in “Hello, Dolly!” (1969) remains iconic, capturing the vibrancy of the era, while her directorial and acting efforts in “Yentl” (1983) showcased a depth of talent that earned her a well-deserved Oscar. 

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8. Frank Sinatra

While “Ol’ Blue Eyes” is undeniably etched in history as one of the finest crooners ever to grace the stage, Frank Sinatra’s talents were not confined merely to the realms of music. His ventures into cinema showcased a depth and versatility that could stand alongside his vocal prowess. Sinatra demonstrated compelling intensity in “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) and offered a raw, poignant performance in “From Here to Eternity” (1953), which earned him an Academy Award. His memorable roles in “Suddenly” (1954), “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962), and “Ocean’s 11” (1960) further attested to his dexterity beyond the microphone. 

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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