Monday, July 15, 2013

Double Threats

Those of you who follow the Billboard Hot 100 every week (and of course who doesn't?) will have no doubt noticed that quirky little hit that just won't quit "Cups (Pitch Perfect's When I'm Gone)" by Anna Kendrick from the movie "Pitch Perfect" has made it all the way to an astounding #10 on the charts. Now those of you who follow this blog (and of course who doesn't?) will recall that I posted about my strange fascination with the song in April back when it was at #59 on the charts; which I had thought at the time was equally unbelievable. Despite the movie having been released in September of last year, this unusual tune just keeps on steadily climbing up the charts for one reason or another. Apparently this latest surge was due to the premiere of the film on HBO. Also, I'm sure Billboard's recent move towards counting Youtube views didn't hurt them either.

That being said, I started to wonder if there were any other cases of an Academy Award nominated actor/actress (from the four major acting categories) with a top ten hit in the modern Billboard era to their credit. So I spent the better part of the end of work last Friday thinking up and checking out possible nominees.There were a bunch of nominees/winner that came to mind who were originally successful musical artists (I think they've all had at least a #1 hit) that also successfully dabbled in acting: Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Cher, and Will Smith (who I guess is now primarily an actor at this point). I didn't count them.

Then there were a few notable borderlines cases. Best actress winner Gwyneth Paltrow had an Adult Contemporary #1 with her cover of "Crusin" with Huey Lewis in 2000 and just missed when the Glee Cast's "Forget You",which she was a featured artist, topped out at #11 on the Hot 100 in 2010. Dan Aykroyd (would you believe he got a best supporting actor nomination for "Driving Miss Daisy"?) was technically part of charity super group USA for Africa of the chart topping "We Are The World" fame, but I don't think it's fair to count charity singles (this also disqualifies Oscar winner Jeff Bridges who was part of Artists for Haiti which took "We Are The World 25 for Haiti" to #2 in 2010. I assume the lack of Dan Aykroyd this time around caused it to stall at #2). To his credit Aykroyd did have a #1 album with the Blues Brothers and their cover of "Soul Man" was a #14 hit. UK #1's also don't count for Oscar winner Nicole Kidman who had one with a duet of "Somethin' Stupid" with Robbie Williams in 2001 and nominee Telly Savales whose insane, Shatner-esque spoken word cover of Bread's "If" somehow was a chart topper in 1975.

This leaves five actors that I believe fit my requirements. Two time nominee John Travolta had a #10 hit with "Let Her In" in 1976 and of course "You're the One That I Want" with Olivia Newton-John from Grease was a #1 in 1978. Best actor winner Jamie Foxx probably has the most successful music career for someone that is primarily an actor. He as two featured #1's ("Gold Digger" with Kanye West in 2005 and "Slow Jamz" with Twista featuring Kanye West in 2005) in addition to two top 10 hits of his own ("Unpredictable" at #8 in 2005 and "Blame It" at #2 in 2009). Eddie Murphy's lone top 10 hit "Party All the Time" in 1985 came 22 years before his Oscar nomination for "Dream Girls" in 2007. Then you get to two personal favorites of mine. Two time nominee, the late Richard Harris and his gloriously ridiculous #2 hit from 1968 "MacArthur Park". And then there's legendary character actor Walter Brennan who won a record three Best Supporting Actor Oscars between 1936 to 1940, including the first one ever given, whose single "Old Rivers", an old timey mostly spoken word story song, bafflingly reached #5 in 1962.

Kudos to you Anna Kendrick, you're in some distinguish, and strange, company.


  1. Not sure whether this meets your exact criteria, but what about Shirley Jones for her work as a member of The Partridge Family on "I Think I Love you"?

  2. I suppose she counts. I always thought the song was credited just to David Cassidy but it's listed as a Partridge Family single (though only her and David actually participated in the recording). Good call.