When musicals hit the big screen, studios tend to put at least one or two big names on the project to attract audiences. Adding a celebrity usually attracts viewers who don’t normally seek out musicals. For some fans, the idea of a beloved star singing their hearts out can be emotional or, at the very least, hugely entertaining.
But sometimes studios choose actors who will appeal to the masses but aren’t very good singers. While some actors add enough personality to their performances to make up for their vocal inexperience, others seem totally out of their element. These performances can always be endearing, but sometimes they’re just pungent enough to warrant a wince from fans.
10/10 Ralph Fiennes can’t quite keep up with Amick Byram
The Prince of Egypt
Ralph Fiennes provides a passionate and daunting performance as Ramses in The Prince of Egypt, but his main role takes a step back when he sings “The Plagues”. The duet with Amick Byram, reveals Fiennes’ acting talents far exceeding his musical abilities.
While Byram’s voice flows beautifully, most of Fiennes’ lines are half-spoken rather than sung. While it’s clear that her strengths as a performer aren’t in the vocals, her style actually matches the song’s intense and dramatic nature surprisingly well. Fiennes may not win any awards with his voice, but his tone enhances the dark imagery of the nine plagues and makes them all the more terrifying.
9/10 Emma Stone’s voice is a little shaky
There is no doubt Emma Stone is a talented actress, with her performance as Mia in The Earth even earned her an Oscar for Best Actress. Despite being an incredibly dynamic performer, it feels like Stone is outside of her comfort zone during the film’s most musical moments.
While Emma Stone can carry a melody, her voice has no real power. This becomes most visible in his dramatic solo “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”. His voice doesn’t have the emphasis of bittersweet lyrics, but his passionate playing still provides plenty of emotion to carry the number to the end.
8/10 Meryl Streep grew up as a singer
Meryl Streep dazzles audiences as a witch in In the woods, but the multi-award-winning actor actually has more humble musical beginnings in Mom Mia. Streep is by no means a horrible singer, but her confidence in her abilities seems far below what she is in the disney musical adaptation.
Meryl Streep’s vocal inconsistency becomes common in songs like “Money, Money, Money” and “The Winner Takes It All”. Streep’s range as an actor continues to impress, but his singing voice is a bit shaky, revealing his lack of musical theater training. Despite everything, she has grown enormously as a singer and her energetic interpretation of Donna manages to compensate for all her musical uncertainties.
7/10 Gerard Butler’s performance isn’t entirely operatic
The Phantom of the Opera
There is no question Gerard Butler controls the correct intensity of the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, but his sometimes high-pitched voice can sometimes interfere with his performance. Butler’s voice, no doubt soulful, is also incoherent when singing.
For example, in his solo “The Music Of the Night”, his smooth lines are soft and beautiful, but when he reaches the climax of the piece, he seems to lose the melody and seems louder than right. While there’s a lot of sentiment behind Gerard Butler’s lyrics, it’s also hard to believe that his character gets Christine to sing when he himself sounds a little off.
6/10 Dwayne Johnson’s fun performance makes up for his vocals
Dwayne Johnson made no secret that he wasn’t the best singer in the world, even going so far as to troll his own musical abilities at the 2017 Oscars. Although his talents lay elsewhere, his performance in Moana is so entertaining that it makes up for it.
Maui’s song “You’re Welcome” is a bit harsh on the ears when Dwayne Johnson hits those high notes, but the jingoistic style plays right to the actor’s strengths. There’s so much personality embedded in every line that it’s hard for viewers to stop tapping their toes to the melody. The song’s bridge is particularly catchy, with Johnson’s quick banter matching the lively beat-for-beat tempo.
5/10 Christopher Walken’s solo is bizarre and entertaining
The Jungle Book 2016
Whereas Christopher Walken as The jungle Book King Louie is a particular casting choice, his role shining with his performance of “I Wanna Be Like You”, even though Walken can’t quite carry a melody. His intimidating and bizarrely hilarious portrayal of the quirky orangutan, paired with his stilted singing voice, is incredibly fun to watch.
Although Christopher Walken is not classically trained as a singer, his unique voice and comedic timing overpowers every high part of his performance. Her song leaves audiences with a unique take on a beloved Disney song.
4/10 Maya Rudolph’s Voice Isn’t Happy Enough to Tell a Christmas Story: Live
Maya Rudolph is a renowned comedian with a diverse portfolio, so it’s understandable that musical abilities aren’t at her peak. Her performance as Mother Parker in A Christmas Story: Live is witty and full of personality, but his singing abilities leave much to be desired.
Her performance of “What A Mother Does” is quite rough, as she struggles to find a coherent melody. In Maya Rudolph’s defense, performing in a live TV musical is no small feat, even for professionally trained singers. Although the performance may be flimsy, Rudolph still carries enough charm to win over audiences as Ralphie’s mother.
3/10 John Leguizamo’s voice definitely stands out
With a talented voice cast in by Disney Encanta, John Leguizamo’s singing definitely stands out as a sore thumb in the musical adventure. While his role as Bruno is mostly used for comedy, the actor’s shortcomings as a singer are particularly apparent in the song “All of You.”
Although his role in the musical number has a fast tempo, it becomes apparent that John Leguizamo is not a Broadway performer when he tries to replicate a line reminiscent of “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel. Despite this reality, her vocals are a brief undercurrent to an otherwise enjoyable performance.
2/10 Emma Watson’s voice can’t hold a candle to Paige O’Hara
Beauty And The Beast (2017)
While fans of The beauty and the Beast I agree Emma Watson is a perfect casting choice to play Belle, she doesn’t embody the same musical presence as Paige O’Hara’s portrayal from the animated version. Watson is a pleasingly charming actor who carries a benevolent intelligence that best suits Belle, but his musical moments are where she fails.
During her introduction in “Belle” and later, during her solo in “Belle’s Reprise”, Emma Watson’s vocals are layered with a heavy auto setting. The sound is distracting and prevents the audience from being completely immersed in the magical fairy tale. Without a confident voice to sing about her character’s conflicts, Watson serves as passable Belle with perhaps just a little less fairytale magic than the 1994 version.
1/10 Russell Crowe is an amazing actor but a mediocre singer
Russell Crowe is an established actor with an incredible range, but unfortunately his best talents don’t extend to musicals. In Wretched, Crowe’s vocal range as Inspector Javert is limited, with many fans saying he sounds like he’s buzzing in most of his numbers.
Russell Crowe’s limitations as a singer become more apparent in his great songs, such as “Stars.” The solo lacks power and proper tone, pales in comparison to its Broadway rendition. While Crowe continues to exemplify stellar emotion with his acting, he’s limited in a role where nearly all of his dialogue is conveyed through song.