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October 9, 2015

From Small Screen to Singer: When TV Stars Double as Musicians

by Spinner Editors, posted Nov 24th 2011 2:00PM
From Spinner: We love a good crossover, especially when our favorite TV stars pick up a microphone and belt out some tunes.

The good folks over at Spinner have compiled a bunch of videos of TV celebs from Joey Lawrence to Zooey Deschanel as they showcase their vocal chops. Though a number of singers have moved from music to television, this list features stars who made it big on the small screen before picking up a microphone, to varying degrees of success.

Joey Lawrence: Joey (now, alas, Joseph) Lawrence achieved heartthrob status by playing the dumb but pretty Joey Russo on the early to mid-nineties sitcom 'Blossom,' but music was always his first love. (He first entered pop-culture as the breakdancing orphan on 'Gimme a Break.') Not content to simply be known for his acting –- and for turning the word "Whoa!" into a successful catchphrase -- the then-teenager released his self-titled debut album in 1993. His first single 'Nothing My Love Can't Fix' became a Top 10 hit, and the video's debut at the end of a 'Blossom' episode caused minor hysteria amongst the Tiger Beat set.

Watch Joey Lawrence's 'Nothing My Love Can't Fix' Video

John Barrowman: Immortal, omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness of 'Doctor Who' and 'Torchwood' fame is also a musical theatre actor, dancer and recording artist. A star in London's prestigious West End, Barrowman has been in 'The Phantom of the Opera,' 'Hair,' 'Miss Saigon,' 'Sunset Boulevard' and 'Beauty and the Beast' as well as 'The Producers' film remake and the Cole Porter movie 'De-Lovely.' He's been featured on a number of cast recordings, but the cartoonishly good-looking sci-fi hero has also released albums of his own where he sings everything from showtunes to Police and Elton John covers. One intrepid 'Torchwood' fan has even made a video about Captain Jack and his dearly departed boyfriend Ianto set to Barrowman's music -- because they belong together forever!

Watch John Barrowman's 'It's All Right With Me' Video

Brent Spiner: Data has enjoyed a successful post-'Star Trek' career in musical theatre, but his first venture into song was a slightly more questionable affair. In 1991, the 'Next Generation' star released 'Old Yellow Eyes,' an album that featured Spiner singing a mix of old standards... and one Randy Newman song. The album wasn't exactly a hit in the real world, but it was popular among Trekkies, especially for the song 'It's a Sin (To Tell a Lie),' featuring his castmates LeVar Burton (Geordie Laforge), Michael Dorn (Worf), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) on backup vocals. Perhaps in tribute to his predecessor (see below), Captain Picard also provides the tune's spoken-word bridge.

Listen to Brent Spiner's 'It's a Sin (To Tell a Lie)'

Paris Hilton: Before every two-bit reality star worth her attention-seeking salt had a single, and before former buddy Kim Kardashian became the Eve Harrington to Miss Hilton's Margo Channing, Paris tried to have a pop career. 'The Simple Life' star released her 2006 debut album, 'Paris,' on Heiress records, her own personal Warner Records sub-label. Her surprisingly asexual and only slightly horrible single 'Stars Are Blind' was a Top 10 hit in 17 countries, but other songs failed to attract much interest. The socialite finished a second album two years later, but couldn't find a label for it. According to TMZ, she is currently in training to become "The Queen of house music." Yes, really.

Watch Paris Hilton's 'Stars Are Blind' Video

Katey Sagal: It's almost unfair that so much coolness is contained in one person. On TV, she's ruled as proto-MILF Peg Bundy on 'Married ... With Children,' righteous motorcycle matriarch Gemma Teller Morrow on 'Sons of Anarchy' and beloved cyclops Leela on 'Futurama.' In music, she's an angelic-voiced singer-songwriter with two albums (1994's 'Well...' and 2004's 'Room') and songs on the 'SOA' soundtrack. The Golden Globe-winning actress has also sung backup vocals for the likes of Bette Midler, Olivia Newton-John and Gene Simmons.

Listen to Katey Sagal's 'I Don't Wanna Know'

Hugh Laurie: The doctor in the 'House' and one half of comedy duo Fry and Laurie can really sing the blues. A musician since childhood, Laurie can play piano, saxophone drums and harmonica, and his talents have often been featured on many of his shows, including 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie,' 'Jeeves and Wooster,' and 'House.' In his downtime, the actor is a member of Band From TV, a group that also includes actors from 'Heroes,' 'Desperate Housewives,' a 'House' costar and a former 'Bachelor.' In 2010, Laurie played piano on Meatloaf's 'Hang Cool Teddy Bear'. A year later, he finally got his own album, 'Let Them Talk,' a collection of blues classics featuring guest appearances by the likes of Tom Jones. It has gone gold in his native UK and, uh, Poland.

Watch Hugh Laurie's 'Swanee River' Video

David Hasselhoff: In the '80s, he was best known as Michael Knight from 'Knight Rider.' In the '90s, he was Mitch Buchannon on 'Baywatch.' These days, most people probably think of him as the guy who used to be a judge on 'America's Got Talent' and sometimes drunkenly struggles with cheeseburgers. But to his German fans, he will always be a musical superstar. The Hoff began his music career in the late '80s and became huge in Germany, even playing a monumental New Years Eve gig at the Berlin Wall in 1989. On this side of the pond, he sang two of 'Baywatch''s ending themes ('Current of Love' for seasons 2-4 and 'I Believe' for 5) and made a viral splash with his jaw-dropping music video for 'Hooked on a Feeling.'

Watch David Hasselhoff's 'Hooked on a Feeling' Video

William Shatner/ Leonard Nimoy/ Nichelle Nichols: William Shatner's stilted spoken-word covers of pop songs like 'Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds,' 'Rocket Man' and 'Common People' have become particularly infamous (and ironically cool) but Captain James T Kirk wasn't the only original Star Trekker to boldly go where no musician had gone before. Actress Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols started out seriously enough with an album of standards in 1967 but she then went on to release a record chock-full of space-themed rock called 'Out Of This World.' Leonard Nimoy accidentally stumbled into a music career when producer Charles Grean's Spock-obsessed daughter convinced her dad to let the vulcan sing on a 'Star Trek' recording, leading to five albums of intergalactic tunes ('Highly Illogical,' 'Music to Watch Space Girls By'), covers ('Proud Mary,' 'Walk the Line') and, of course, 'The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,' the most psychedelic song to ever be written about a hobbit. (No offense, Robert Plant.)

Watch Leonard Nimoy's 'The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins' Video

Janet Jackson: Although she comes from a famous musical family, most of Miss Jackson's (if you're nasty) early work was in television. She had already starred in two seasons of 'Good Times' as Millicent "Penny" Gordon Woods and appeared on a handful of episodes of 'Diff'rent Strokes' ("watchoo talkin' 'bout Willis' girlfriend?") before she even signed a record deal with A&M in 1982. After that, she divided her time between television and music, occasionally showing up on 'Diff'rent Strokes,' guest starring on 'The Love Boat' and playing Cleo Hewitt on 'Fame' until her 1986 breakthrough album, 'Control.' Since then, Jackson has mostly stuck to music and film, although she was in an episode of 'The Tyler Perry Show' last year.

Watch Janet Jackson's 'Two to the Power of Love' Video

Drake: Before he became the woe-is-me master of impregnation rap, Aubrey Drake Graham was just another fresh Canadian face on 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.' But while he was playing Jimmy Brooks -- colloquially known as "Wheelchair Jimmy" -- the basketball star who was paralyzed when he was shot by a fellow student, the artist soon to be known as Drake was also busy making mixtapes and posting music to MySpace. Drizzy quickly became an Internet sensation and signed with Lil' Wayne's Young Money Entertainment just as he was wrapping up on 'Degrassi.' Before his big musical break, though, Drake also found time to appear on a handful of other Canadian shows like 'Sophie,' 'The Border' and 'Being Erica.'

Watch Drake's 'Marvins Room' Video

Written by Sarah Kurchak

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How about Anthony Stewart Head, Giles of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"? He sang on the show, plus he did a CD called "Music for Elevators." He had a band when he was younger, writes songs, and plays many instruments. Very talented man!

November 28 2011 at 2:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel Henderson

No mention for Donald Glover from Community rapping as Childish Gambino?

November 26 2011 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey! Fantastic blog! I happen to be a daily visitor to your site of this website. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blogs and am looking forward for more to come!

November 26 2011 at 5:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For those who don't know, Katey Sagal did the theme song to the 1990 movie "Loose Cannons". She sang it with Dan Aykroyd.

November 25 2011 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You forgot Zachary Levi who sang in Tangled.

November 24 2011 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steven Leitner

Doesn't Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and any of those Glee cast members count as TV stars who turned into singers? Oh, and let's not forget Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and JC Chasez who were on The Mickey Mouse Club.

November 24 2011 at 3:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Steven Leitner's comment
Dawne Monigle

Love didn't "turn into" a singer, she was a performer first, with L.A. Gear touring companies, and her first album came out right about the time she joined the cast of Kids Inc. Don't let the fact that your parents wouldn't buy you the Disney Channel when you were a kid confuse you about what's true and what's not. I am SO TIRED of always seeing crap like this!!

November 25 2011 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas began on Kids Incorporated also in the late 80's.

December 11 2011 at 6:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Deej Barens

Actually Brent Spiner was in musical theatre long before Star Trek. He was part of the original Broadway cast of Sunday in the Park with George.

November 24 2011 at 2:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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