Later this summer, Kiefer Sutherland will release an album of country songs, proving there is nothing CTU agent Jack Bauer can't do. The man once got addicted to heroin to maintain his cover in a Mexican drug cartel, so I'm sure he can play pedal-steel, wear his hat from Young Guns, and sing in a deep Merle Haggard baritone. He's a real American hero, and what do our most heroic celebrities do? They release goddamn vanity projects masquerading as albums.
Whether it's a comedian with a love for the banjo (Steve Martin), an athlete with a notebook full of rhymes (both Kobe and Shaq), or a grunge mystic in action-hero garb (Keanu Reeves' Dogstar), there's nothing more invigorating than a completely inexplicable celebrity album. Moving beyond the obvious gold standards -- shout-out to David Hasselhoff, 30 Seconds to Mars, and the Lt. Dan Band -- we've selected 17 celebrity albums that you've probably never even heard of. But that doesn't mean they're not each beautiful in their own misguided way.
Joe Pesci, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You (1998)
Remember that part in Jersey Boys where Joe Pesci shows up? As the movie and the musical suggest, Pesci was instrumental in the formation of the Four Seasons, but he was also a talented musician himself, playing guitar for Jersey pop group Joey Dee and the Starliters and releasing a covers album called Little Joe Sure Can Sing! under the name Joe Ritchie in 1968. So, it's not surprising that post-Goodfellas the former lounge singer dipped his toe back in the music biz for this concept album where he plays his My Cousin Vinnie character -- I think? There's also a rap song. Please listen to it.
Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Be a Man (2003)
After years of asking you to snap into a Slim Jim, the elbow-dropping wrestler demanded that you snap into his rap album, a collection of tough-talking anthems, Hulk Hogan diss tracks, and a surprisingly poignant (and absurd) tribute to his late friend Curt Hennig. Savage had a voice made for screaming wrestling promos, and his gravely flow isn't helped by knock-off Ruff Ryders beats he jumps on, but I'd still listen to this before I'd give John Cena's album a spin any day.
Leonard Nimoy, Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy (1968)
Spock had jams! While the musical exploits of William Shatner tends to get more ink, especially after his curious team-up with Ben Folds on 2003's Has Been, Nimoy was the real musical genius of the two Trek leads. While his first album was a full Spock record and his later records ditched the sci-fi gimmick for country covers and original compositions, this LP, which features '60s kitsch classic "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins," finds Nimoy exploring both his alien side and his human persona. Think of it as Spock's I am... Sasha Fierce.
Steven Seagal, Songs from the Crystal Cave (2005)
There's so much going on with this cover: that vaguely Tolkien-ish title, the little beaded bracelets, the big blue pinky ring, his "Hey girl, I was in The Glimmer Man" eyes, and the way the guitar is angled like he might break it in half at any moment and stab you with it. But the most ridiculous thing about this album? Stevie Wonder played harmonica on it! Apparently, they're bros. What a beautiful world full of infinite possibilities!
Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head (2008)
Before she had comic-book geek cred, Johansson had indie cred. The Ghost World favorite-turned-Black Widow blockbuster star teamed up for a collection of Tom Waits covers produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek -- and they're not bad! If you didn't know it was the voice of the Her robot singing to you, you might assume the artist has a career of playing early AM sets at major music festivals ahead of her. But, as nice as it is to have your record played at Urban Outfitters, she's probably glad to have that Marvel money now.
Seth MacFarlane, No One Ever Tells You (2015)
From the many show-tune parodies on Family Guy to his irritating stint as an Oscars host, it's clear that Seth MacFarlane fancies himself an old-fashioned song-and-dance man forced to live in the body of a multimillionaire comedian. "We assume Peter Griffin probably shouldn't be able to sing all that well, so you can keep it loose and you don't have to think too much about it," he told NPR back in 2011. "It's much more work to sing straight." This record, his third full-length, was nominated for a Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy, so maybe it's excellent. But I saw Ted, so, like, I'm good dawg.
Mr. T, Mr. T's Commandments (1984)
I pity the fool who has never checked out this children's novelty EP. Mr. T is the perfect mohawk-sporting role model here, doling out essential life lessons on tracks like "Don't Talk to Strangers," "No Dope No Drugs," and "You Got to Go Through It." After listening to it, you'll never do any bad things again -- I swear. The only thing that would make this thing better? A song about apple picking. Get this guy back in the booth!
Robert Downey Jr., The Futurist (2004)
Before he was Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. took a shot at being the piano man. With adult-contemporary ballads like "Man Like Me" and some jazzy flourishes, the album from the multi-talented actor got decent reviews -- "think Bruce Springsteen doing a cabaret night," wrote AllMusic -- but this was in the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Zodiac days, before he became RDJ Inc., a franchise-spawning box-office behemoth with little time for making indie films or writing songs with titles like "Little Clownz." I can't imagine the modern Downey signing up for something so odd now. It's unsurprising that his music career has taken a backseat to saving the world.
Bruce Willis, The Return of Bruno (1987)
Bruno is a great name for a dog or a Sacha Baron Cohen movie -- but as the R&B alter-ego of Moonlighting star Bruce Willis? It's a bit of a stretch. That didn't stop Willis from releasing this compilation of covers -- "Respect Yourself," "Under the Boardwalk," and "Secret Agent Man" all make appearances -- and a handful of originals. Bruno has a decent voice and he put out another album in 1989, but both will probably leave you saying yippie-kay-meh.
Kevin Costner & Modern West, Untold Truths (2008)
When you see Kevin Costner's sandy hair, leathery beach-god skin, understated swagger, and large-collared button-up shirts, you just think one word: dad. You wanna play catch with him. You want him to let you take a sip of his beer and say, "Don't tell your mom, champ!" You want him to watch Waterworld with you. If the real-life father of seven wasn't in a dad-rock band, the government would have to issue him one, force them to rehearse, and provide a generic name like Modern West. Luckily, Costner did all that on his own -- just like a responsible dad should.
Clint Eastwood, Rawhide's Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites (1963)
The image of Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name staring off into the distance with a cigar between his teeth, a hat on his head, and two guns in his holsters comes with a soundtrack: the iconic spaghetti-Western wails of Ennio Morricone. But before he became the kingpin of Italian desert epics, Eastwood was the star of CBS' Rawhide, the NCIS of the early '60s, and he got his own record to go with it. Eastwood still occasionally writes music for the movies he directs, but I think we can all agree none of his music work stacks up against this banger from Gran Torino.
Burt Reynolds, Ask Me What I Am (1973)
It makes sense that Burt Reynolds had an album, right? In the '70s the Smokey and the Bandit star was a bronzed god, starring in Deliverance, posing nude in Cosmopolitan, and generally resembling a human cologne ad, so this record of country songs doesn't exactly feel surprising. Judging from the sub-Kristofferson title track, it's easy to see why he didn't drive his orange Cannonball Run ambulance down this road ever again. If you see Burt palling around Florida and ask him what he is, as the album title requests, he probably won't say singer-songwriter.
Anthony Hopkins, Composer (2012)
In 2012, Hannibal Lecter himself released an album of compositions performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It turns out it was a lifelong dream for the Oscar-winning actor. "I've been composing music all my life and if I'd been clever enough at school I would like to have gone to music college," he told The Guardian. "As it was I had to settle for being an actor." That's the self-deprecating spirit, Sir Hopkins!
Muhammad Ali, Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay (1976)
The late boxing legend wasn't only a formidable opponent in the ring; he was a terror on the mic. On this child-friendly novelty record, which Rolling Stone recently took a closer look at after his death, he spits bars like, "I'm so bad, I eat for breakfast railroad spikes/Yesterday I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick/I'm so mean, I make medicine sick." Did you read that correctly? The man murdered a rock. Damn. That's cold.
Pope John Paul II, Abbà Pater (1999)
Oh, so you thought Pope Francis was the only pope cool enough to drop an LP of hot fire? Well, you were mistaken, my holy friend. It turns out both of these Catholic leaders wanted to craft records they could bump to make the trunk of the Pope Mobile rattle. Pope John Paul II spent nights in the studio with his boys cooking up some hot tracks like "Cercate il Suo Volto" and "Vieni, Santo Spirito." As the saying goes: popein' ain't easy.
David Faustino, Balistyx (1992)
Bud Bundy was a real hip-hop head. As this LA Weekly story chronicles, the Married... with Children actor threw a party called Balistyx that was attended by Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Eazy-E, Xzibit, and fellow MC and actor Scott Caan. He even helped launch will.i.am's career! Sadly, when Faustino released an album with the same name as his popular party, he never reached the Super Bowl-performing heights of his Black Eyed Pea-ed friend. But he still writes songs under the name Lil' Gweed. Never give up, Bud!
Carice van Houten, See You On the Ice (2012)
Yes, you know her as the Jon Snow-reviving, ghost-birthing, secretly very, very old Red Woman, but did you also know the Game of Thrones actress is an indie-pop singer-songwriter? Well, now you do. Tracks like "Emily" off her record See You on the Ice reveal the actress to be a Feisty performer capable of conjuring those droll Lana Del Rey-like atmospherics that are particularly en vogue now. It's the perfect music to stare into space and question the existence of the Lord of Light to.
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