Jennifer Lopez, the former In Living Color flygirl and bootylicious star of Out Of Sight, recently released her debut album of Latin-tinged dance music, On the 6 featuring the single “If You Had My Love.” The video is in heavy rotation on MTV, but frankly, if I had her love I don’t think I would be able to handle it. Not only is the song a fine example of dancy dance pop, Jennifer Lopez is hotter than any diva who wears hi-heels in the swimming pool, any motorcycle-riding chanteuse in Katey Sagal leopard-skin pant suits, and any surgically-enhanced underage strumpets. Baby, no more times, thank you much.
Lopez is no stranger to playing a pop star. She portrayed Tejano superstar Selena in the biopic of the same name. Unfortunately, Lopez lip-synched the songs in the movie -- although to attempt to approximate Selena’s distinctive style would be invitation for lambasting at the hands of rabid Selena fans and critics alike. Lopez was therefore forced to wait for her imminent star power to rain vanity record deals around her.
With On The 6, Lopez joins a tradition of box office stars that attempt to crossover into musical pastures. But, unlike most actors and actresses whose albums are only big in Belgium and/or only draw condescending snickers when mentioned, Lopez is already climbing the charts with “If You Had My Love.” If indeed her sales continue to rise and critics show her the love, Lopez will join an elite few:
ACTORS WHO ROCK
Johnny Depp came to LA to be a rocker, but was discovered as an actor instead. In 1995, Depp returned to his roots with P., a three-piece outfit also featuring Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes and Screaming Blue Messiahs frontman Bill Carter. With creds like that, P. can’t be all bad, and, in fact, it isn’t.
Not nearly as musically proficient, but decent nonetheless, Dogstar, bassist Keanu Reeve’s alterna-rock, quasi-grunge band, released Our Little Visionary and the enhanced EP, Quattro Formaggio in the mid-Nineties. The band toured the US and Europe as headliners in club shows that received mixed critical reviews, but mostly sold-out houses of fans and naysayers alike.
The Bacon Brothers featured folk singer and film composer Michael and the six strings of Kevin Bacon on the 1997 release Forosco. Their hooky country-folk sound endeared them with critics and club audiences alike, although I’m sure their celebrity helped to fill a few seats.
In 1985, members of little-known sketch comedy troupe The Credibility Gap teamed with former Meathead Rob Reiner to parody the rock star fantasy while simultaneously playing out their own rock star fantasies. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer became Spinal Tap, releasing an album, appearing as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, touring, re-uniting in 1992, releasing another album and touring in support of that, and even joining forces with the heavy metal relief organization Hear N’Aid. Guest, however, had long been toying with rock-n-roll. He has appeared on albums by Loudon Wainwright III -- that’s Rufus’ old man -- Squeeze and, who can forget, Lenny & The Squigtones with fellow Credibility Gapster Michael “TV’s Lenny” McKean.
FORMER CHILD ACTORS WHO ROCK
Ozzie & Harriet’s rock-n-roll youngster Rick Nelson was, of course, the granddaddy of all child actors who became jukebox heroes. His infectious pop songs didn’t set the world on its ear, but his genuine craftmanship and rockabilly riffs made him infinitely more sincere than the manufactured teen idols to follow.
Rick Nelson’s dual careers as both actor and musician were simultaneous. Outside of Jennifer Love Hewitt, who has released three albums and is beloved in Japan (the Belgium of Asia), most child actors who get vanity albums garner little recognition and even littler record sales. The cut-out bins are overflowing with the albums of Scott Baio, Lisa Welchel, David Faustino and Brian Austin Green. As a matter of fact, a good number of child actors turn to music only after the Hollywood machinery has chewed them up and spit them out.
One-half of the two Coreys, Corey Feldman is still searching for soul on his latest release “Still Searching For Soul” with Corey Feldman’s Truth Movement. Tina Yothers performs around LA with her band, Jaded. Danny Cooksey, (Sam from Diff’rent Strokes) plays in Lucy’s Milk. Brandon Cruz (Eddie of Courtship of Eddie’s Father) has released a well-received punk album including an amped-up version of the show’s theme, Best Friend by Harry Nilsson. Billy Mumy (TV’s Will Robinson) currently plays lead guitar in Jenerator, an LA-based powerpop band that also sports Miguel Ferrer on their 1998 release “Hitting The Silk.” Mumy, as Barnes and Barnes, also penned the Dr. Demento Funny Five classic “Fish Heads.”
A teen starlet on the long-running Australian soap Neighbours, Natalie Imbruglia scored big in 1998 with her debut album Left Of Middle and its first single “Torn,” a breathy ditty written by Ednaswap and former Cure bassist Phil Thornalley, who also produced the album. “Torn” sold over a million copies and remained at number one on the UK charts for an unprecedented 14 weeks. The confessional lyrics and angst-dripping vocals owe a debt of gratitude to the later albums of Alanis Morrisette, a former child actress herself. Morrisette was a cast member of the Canadian Nickelodeon’s popular children’s television series, You Can’t Do That On Television, before turning to music. She released two albums of dance-pop that sold over 150,000 between them and earned Alanis a Juno Award for Most Promising Female Artist in 1992. In 1994, she moved to Los Angeles and began working with producer Glen Ballard on the album that was to become Jagged Little Pill, the best-selling album of 1996.
Even former child porn actors can have successful recording careers. Traci Lords, renowned for bringing the adult industry to its knees when she revealed that she had been working in porn since she was fifteen, bounced back from scandal a few short years later as a legit actress, appearing in films like John Waters’ Serial Mom and Blade. In 1995, Lords cut 1000 Fires, an album of Hi-NRG dance tracks, including the rave fave Fallen Angel.