Top 10 Actors who should Quit Music

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When Dan asked me if I could contribute a Top 10 list for the site, I was happy to do so. This idea came up. A list of people who act and sing, some of them started out as a singer and began acting… some others started acting and got into singing. However, one thing is true about the people on this list: They should quit singing, and just focus into their acting careers because they do it much better.

The list is ordered by the balance of quality music against quality acting roles, as well as success in sales/awards.

Sorry, Justin Timberlake! You’re not on this list – You can take that as “she thinks I’m a good musician” or… “she thinks I’m an awful actor,” or – you suck at both, whatever suits you best.

10. T.O.P (Choi Seung Hyun)

actors who sing, top 10,

Seung-hyun Choi, better known as Korean boyband member T.O.P, just delved into acting with 71 into the Fire, which got him a nod at the Asian Film Awards for Best Newcomer. Not too shabby, considering his debut on Korean series IRIS – which spawned a movie – was received with comments for overacting.

That recognition might beat the best-selling music pop idol status, in which he usually sounds as if Sean Paul was singing in Korean.

9. Gwyneth Paltrow

actors who sing, top 10,

I believe that I’m one of the few people who still genuinely likes Gwyneth Paltrow, even after her role on Glee and her performance at the Grammy Awards. But truth be told, people don’t like her… and after performing Cee Lo Green’s Forget You, people downright despise her.

Obviously, besides quit singing, she should stop telling us how to eat healthy, and what rich people visit in Hong Kong. But there was once upon a time – not long ago – when Gwyneth was still a pretty good actress with pretty good roles, like Two Lovers.

8. Cher

actors who sing, top 10,

Never-aging wax-like Cher has looked exactly the same ever since I can remember. Her discography is filled with tons of dance-club friendly tracks that most gay people love to dance to, but of very little substance. Though, Cher can deliver in a performance vocally, it seems she’s best received on the big screen. Not shabby with an Oscar on the bag.

She seems to do great with a hybrid between movies and music: Movies Musicals! I have to admit I did love her performance of You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.

7. Scarlett Johansson

actors who sing, top 10,

Most of the times, we love to hate her, and it’s true Scarlett Johansson’s movie career has been on the cold side for a while, but even I have to admit that her acting it’s a hundred times better than that insipid album she released a while back.

Please, Scarlett. Don’t quit your acting job.

6. Chris Lee (Li Yuchun)

actors who sing, top 10,

Chris Lee’s got three studio albums, as well as a live compilation album, an EP and a mini-album on the market since she won the Super Girl singing competition – like American Idol but only for girls.

She’s known for her androgynous look, her humble personality, her (funny) Latin numbers, and she ended up surprising people when she showed up on Teddy Chan’s Bodyguards and Assassins as the boyish Fang Hong. She was emotional and feisty when needed, and the role earned her a nod for Best Newcomer at the Asian Film Awards, as well as Hong Kong Film Awards nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best New Performer.

Not bad for a debut. Next up for her, Tsui Hark’s The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate with Jet Li and Xun Zhou.

5. Kou Shibasaki

actors who sing, top 10,

Most of us probably know her as crazy b!tch Mitsuko on the bloody Battle Royale, but as many Japanese idols – feisty Shibasaki needs to sing vapid-sounding pop. She’s got four albums expanding to 22 singles, and three compilations.

She’s got a selection of Japanese series and films like Galileo, Orange Days, Maiko Haaaan!!! and Ohoku – in which she plays a female Shogun.

Next up for her is her Hollywood debut as Mika on Keanu Reeves’ 47 Ronin, alongside Tadanobu Asanao, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi. What a Japanese cast!

4. Juliette Lewis

juliette lewis, actors who sing, top 10

A lot of people felt a straight-forward film like Conviction was taken to another level when Lewis showed up on screen. She often seems to elicit those comments lately when she’s on screen, yet the eccentric Juliette keeps on jamming with her band.

A discography that’s received lukewarm reviews, while every small role she’s got on film gets some sort of praise for her. She’s certainly never the weak link in some rather bland films.

So what is it about actors, music and a live audience?

3. Kevin Bacon

kevin bacon, actors who sing, top 10,

I actually don’t hate Kevin Bacon’s turn to music, and he doesn’t seem to want to turn into a musician. Kevin Bacon’s band with his brother seems like a genuine project out of music passion… and brotherly love.

However, we can’t deny that the success of The Bacon Brothers is anything like Kevin Bacon’s success. He’s been making music for nearly 15 years now, but people still seem surprised to hear he’s in a band.

Kevin Bacon, a nice guy and an actor through and through.

2. Billy Bob Thornton

billy bob thornton, actors who sing, top 10,

There’s something inherently wrong with a band when your biggest claim to fame is that your lead vocalist is an Oscar-winning actor. Even worse, said lead loses his cool after an interviewer refers to him as an actor. Because he is a musician now.

The thing is that Thornton is a much MUCH better actor than a lot of the singers trying to make it as actors. He’s won all those awards for acting with good reason! Plus, being a musician seems to make him ten times the @sshole that he used to be as an actor.

1. Kazunari Ninomiya

actors who sing, top 10,

Most of us know him as the scrawny Saigo on Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. Little would suspect that Ninomiya is a member of Japan’s current favorite boyband, Arashi. Their discography is filled with saccharine pop tunes with danceable tunes that they can’t dance, and vapid lyrics of young love.

Spawning from an agency of male idols, Johnny’s Entertainment isn’t known for its batch of talented performers, and no one predicted Ninomiya would be one of the few that could be making it outside an idol career…

If only he could quit…

That’s it folks. What do you think of the list? Anyone missing? Anyone that should be left out?

Written and compiled by Amy Wong. Amy is the founder of online pop culture magazine Yam Mag.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Novroz Reply

    I love reading your list Amy. Putting NinoChan in the list was a great idea. In my 30years of life, I never like boyband, but I could completely accept him in Dorama.

    I would put Nishikido Ryo in my list. He is much better actor than a singer. I love the way he potrayed his character in Orthros no Inu and he is a real psycho in Last Friend.

  2. Avatar
    rtm Reply

    Neat idea for a list, lots of actors are pretty good singers. I’m not familiar with the Asian singers but the ones I’m familiar with I do agree. I heard Gwyneth is recording an album now, too? Don’t count on me buying it though, people don’t like her because she just isn’t sympathetic or relatable.

  3. Avatar
    amy Reply

    Dan, you cropped the first photo wrong, T.O.P doesn’t even show up on the photo of the boyband. xD Just… FYI xD You might want to modify that.

    @Novroz, thanks Novroz. I needed to find a way to mix countries. And I really REALLY dislike Arashi, but Ninomiya is actually a pretty good actor. About Nishikido, I can’t stand him. I think it’s because I got into all this with Last Friends, I see his face and remember Sousuke. Besides, I’m not even sure how well-known is his film career…

    @rtm, I heard about the Country music contract. I didn’t know it was a done deal. Gwyneth is really pushing it. LOL

  4. Avatar
    Rodrigo Reply

    Interesting list. I haven’t watched much of Cher’s films, but I find interesting to read that she’s better off in the acting field.

    In Paltrow’s case, the hatred might also be overexposure too. I don’t think many would hate on Paltrow if her Glee appearance was a one-time deal. Granted that her Glee appearances is to prepare her for another film in which she will sing, but the overexposure of Paltrow as a singer can get annoying.

  5. Avatar
    sundryandco Reply

    Great to see a music-themed list – There aren’t enough of them on movie blogs.

    Scarlett Johansson. What can I say. When I heard some years ago that she was going to slaughter a selection of a beloved Tom Waits’ songs by releasing an album, I put my hands to my ears and waited until it was all over. Thankfully she abandoned the “music” and stayed with the acting, something at which she is slightly less mediocre. The album did provide some laughs, so I suppose she has be given some credit for bringing something positive to the general public 😀

    Speaking of which…Tom Waits doesn’t quite meet the description for this list, but he’s a singer who can act!

    Cher is definitely a performer through and through and is thoroughly entertaining in both music and film. It’s also infinitely interesting to observe her wax shell. You’re right – She has looked the same for a long time now – I wonder will she look the same in another 70 years? Probably!

    There are some other contemporary actors who might make this list, if I could just think of them…Let me see…Robert Downey, Jared Leto, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Crowe…and briefly, Kate Winslet :O

  6. Avatar
    Anna Reply

    There are some good ones TBH like Viggo Mortensen and Billy Boyd and … wow can’t really think of any.

  7. Avatar
    Luke Reply

    Wow! What an international list! Though I can’t really side with you on Billy Bob (I’ve never been all that impressed with his acting, and that atrocious radio interview was just cringy), it’s sort of strange how someone like Cher, who you would assume would be laughable as an “actress” is actually rather good in pretty much every movie she’s been in. (Maybe sans Burlesque, though.)

  8. Avatar
    amy Reply

    @Rodrigo, I agree on the Paltrow hate being due to overexposure, and that she’s really pushing it with the Country career. Didn’t Jennifer Hudson introduced her as some sort of gifted voice at the Oscar? xD

    @sundryandco, I didn’t know Kate Winslet was! I did think of Jared Leto for the list, but I thought his music career was doing better than his acting as of lately.

    @Anna, did Viggo sing? I only knew he was a poet xD

    @Luke, Cher was probably the best thing in Burlesque xD so I guess that’s saying something. LOL

  9. Avatar
    Julili Reply

    Lol!
    Love the list, great variety there, then again, u are a freaking genius

  10. Avatar
    ROXY Reply

    I’m not sure I agree with Shibasaki Kou. I knew her first as a singer and I don’t necessarily know everything she has released but I like her latest music. I’ll have to go watch her movies though. If she’s that great an actress. Plus I NEED to watch Ohoku.

    OH! And Ninomiya Kazunari… AGREED!! That boy should plain out act. Why Arashi?! WHYYYY?! Let him go~ I LOVED Nino in Letters from Iwo Jima. He had such spunk. The movie was so particularly intriguing -because- of his character. Just like Ikuta Toma in Hana Kimi. I saw some videos of him singing *cringe* He’s such a good actor though.

  11. Avatar
    M. Hufstader Reply

    No Marky Mark? Kidding, great list. Though Paltrow kinda annoys me, but maybe I just don’t dig Country.

  12. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Amy: Love the list Amy, many thanks for producing it for the site. I recently saw Gwyneth Paltrow strut her stuff on Glee (I wasn’t watching Glee, I’d like to add, my fiancee had it on and I just happened to look at the TV when they started singing and dancing – honest!) and remember thinking – that’s not Paltrow singing, it must be dubbed. But, I believe it was her singing. Maybe she’s been taking tips from her husband but I know for a fact if she started singing Yellow by Coldplay I’d hate it.

  13. Avatar
    CS Reply

    Man I wish Gwyneth Paltrow would put this whole “I’m a singing sensation” behind her. She has a decent voice, but she is a far better actress than she is a singer. I think people are going crazy for her mainly because Glee is milking her star status.

    Also, no Zooey Deschanel?? I thought she would have made the list for sure.

  14. Avatar
    amy Reply

    @ROXY, Shibasaki has an air of fierceness about her acting, while her music sounds like most Jpop. *cringes* And LOL at the Arashi comment – they’re cute and funny… but they can’t sing, let alone dance and sing at the same time. Monster was awful.

    @M. Hufstader, I did think of Marky Mark… but he’s put his Marky Mark days behind for a while now, so I let it pass ;D

    @Dan, Paltrow’s voice in Glee is… well, as autotuned as everyone can get in that show. No difference in that. But do have to agree with CS’s opinion on her sensation.

    About Zooey Deschanel, I thought of her too but her balance between music and acting wasn’t that much, so she saved herself by not being such a big star. xD

  15. Avatar
    fitz Reply

    Anyone on Glee in general should stop.

    How they could butcher Nirvana so badly and remain on-air I’ll never know.

  16. Avatar
    dushevka Reply

    I agree on most and I’m kinda surprised Mark Wahlberg didn’t make the list – but T.O.P ?

    T.O.P was (and is) singer / rapper first. Only later he got involved into acting, which is not uncommon in Korea – especially with big idols like Big Bang. His acting “phase” was very short lived and is now mainly focused on singing career.

    Being one of the best entertainers in Korea and a part of an international success called Big Bang, I sincerely hope he doesn’t quit singing. Rapping. Whatever. Ever.

    VIPs representing !

  17. Avatar
    Castor Reply

    Ahaha totally agree with Gwyneth Paltrow. Someone should stop her because it’s getting a bit sad. She has a relatively ok voice but nowhere is it as good as she seem to think.

  18. Avatar
    amy Reply

    @dushevka, Marky Mark already quit singing ;D so he couldn’t be on the list.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like T.O.P, but his short-lived acting gig was better than much of the solo stuff he released in music, I think. His music is not as bad as Ninomiya, though. LOL That’s why one of them is opposite to the other ;D

    @Castor, I’m kinda beginning to feel sorry for her.

  19. Avatar
    DEZMOND Reply

    yep, Gwiny should definitely stop singing, and possibly acting as well 🙂

    Cher is an oustanding singer who gave us some of the biggest pop hits in history, so I wouldn’t like to see her stop singing.

    When it comes to ScarJo, I never understood her singing. Wouldn’t even call it singing.

    When it comes to actors whom I adore hearing sing I must list Ewan McGregor and Luke Evans two of my beloved Brits. I could listen to them singing forever.

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