Some Skilled Music Makers (Who Also Do a Little Comedy)
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The idea of the “vanity album” is nothing new to the acting world. Eddie Murphy and Bruce Willis made one in the 80s, and there are plenty of "fake bands" out there created for movies and television that show off some incredible talent. Spoiler alert: I might list a few of these over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
It just stands to reason if part of your job is being able to manipulate and control your voice, singing is a natural step for some.
However, there are some actors, comedic actors in particular, who have some pretty incredible voices or instrumental skills, and if they left the acting world for a full-time music gig, I would be all for it.
Here are five in particular that are most impressive, indeed.
Hopefully, people know the creator of Family Guy, The Orville, and Ted has released five fantastic swing and jazz albums. Influenced by the likes of Frank Sinatra (yes, it was MacFarlane who sang "My Way" in the animated movie Sing), MacFarlane's music has been nominated for Grammys and hit pretty high on the U.S. Jazz charts. Politically, I rarely agree with the man, but he is one talented guy whatever he takes on. If he decides to drop everything else and stick to music, I'll be in the front row.
Here’s a piece from his Seth MacFarlane: Swinging in Concert about eight years ago.
I took guitar lessons all through high school, and one day my teacher showed me a photo a friend sent him of Steve Martin in the early 1970s playing guitar at an outdoor concert. Like the 14-year-old idiot I was I said, “Cool. That was when he was still just a musician.” My teacher looked at me like I dumped grape juice on his favorite guitar.
“JUST, a musician?!?” he responded, fully insulted. I felt shame.
Martin had already won two Grammy Awards for comedy when I inadvertently insulted the music community, but since then he has won five more, both on his own and collaborating with others like the Steep Canyon Rangers, in Country Instrumental, Bluegrass, American Roots and most recently for Musical Theater with he and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star.
Here’s a bit of his effortless banjo playing in “Always Will”:
Saturday Night Live alumnus Ana Gasteyer often showed off her formal musical training in original characters including the official Lilith Fair “funny wordsmith folkist, who came out of the singer-songwriter tradition” Cinder Calhoun, and one half of the hip-hop pop group, Gemini’s Twin. She took her talents to Broadway in musicals like The Treepenny Opera and Wicked, and last year she added her Christmas album, “Sugar & Booze,” to her mix. Her 2014 album “I’m Hip” is a mix of jazz standard style covers (like her Peggy Lee take on Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”) and original songs, with a lot of comic sensibilities mixed in.
She goes heavy on the comedy in the album’s first single, “One Mint Julep,” but man, can she belt out the notes.
Finally, while we’re talking about belting, I don't know why there is no full rock cover solo album from…
Where do you start with this guy? Well, if I were only to mention his musical efforts, you have his comedy metal band Tenacious D, known for hits like “Tribute,” and their film “Pick of Destiny." Their Grammy winning cover of Dio’s “The Last in Line” is part of the tribute album “This is Your Life.” Black has also made musical and comedy appearances on several music videos. He’s sung on tracks by Eagles of Death Metal, and done a duet with rock anthem legend Meat Loaf, and since 2006 has his own production company that has produced everything from mockumentaries to a film on rock and ska group, The Aquabats.
Everyone knows the guy can falsetto with the best of them. We just want more of it, even if he never takes himself seriously. I guess you don’t need to when “you’re high above the mucky muck.”
Here’s the ever-meta Tenacious D’s “Wonderboy”: