Songs about movie stars
September 23, 2010 3:04 AM   Subscribe

I need inspiration for a playlist - all songs about actors [OR by movie stars that don't normally sing]. So - Gorillaz - "Clint Eastwood", works well, as does Clint Eastwood - "I talk to the trees". I prefer songs about the stars, but by is acceptable too.
posted by dash_slot- to Media & Arts (91 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
About movie stars: Whatever Happened to Corey Haim? by the Thrills.

Robert de Niro's Waiting: Banarama

By movie stars: I happen to think Bruce Willis' rendition of "Under the Boardwalk" is a future classic.

More seriously, She and Him - Zooey Deschanel - is unusually good.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:15 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Few off the top of my head:

Lambchop - Steve McQueen
Kim Carnes - Betty Davis Eyes
MDC - John Wayne Was a Nazi

Guardian: Readers recommend - songs about actors.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:19 AM on September 23, 2010

Sorry, meant to link to the blog post with readers' suggestions
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:21 AM on September 23, 2010

Calling him a movie star might be a bit of a stretch, but David Duchovny by Bree Sharp totally fits the bill otherwise.
posted by FakePalindrome at 3:23 AM on September 23, 2010

Also: on the Guardian's blog page Infinite Jest links to: Stump's "Charlton Heston" is a masterpiece.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:25 AM on September 23, 2010

The Clash - The Right Profile (about Montgomery Clift)
posted by permafrost at 3:27 AM on September 23, 2010

"Grace Kelly" by Mika fits the former!

And for the latter, Scarlett Johanssen did an album of Tom Waits covers (can't remember the name) which might suit?
posted by greenish at 3:27 AM on September 23, 2010

The Jazz Butcher - Peter Lorre
posted by ultrogonic at 3:27 AM on September 23, 2010

Madness - Michael Caine
posted by vacapinta at 3:30 AM on September 23, 2010

Sissy Spacek - John, You Went Too Far This Time (about John Lennon)
posted by Locative at 3:30 AM on September 23, 2010

Oops, looks like Sissy Spacek's song is actually called John You've Gone Too Far This Time
posted by Locative at 3:32 AM on September 23, 2010

Farrah Fawcett and Jean-Paul Vignon - You (Toi) -- actually a pretty catchy song
posted by Locative at 3:35 AM on September 23, 2010

Roxy Music - 2 H.B. (Humphrey Bogart)
posted by Devoidoid at 3:36 AM on September 23, 2010

Elton John: Candle in the Wind (Marylin Monroe)
posted by Omnomnom at 3:37 AM on September 23, 2010

Haysi Fantayzee - John Wayne is Big Leggy
posted by Devoidoid at 3:40 AM on September 23, 2010

The Clash - One Emotion (inspired by a performance by Roger Moore)
posted by Devoidoid at 3:43 AM on September 23, 2010

Toto - Rosanna (Rosanna Arquette)
posted by Locative at 3:43 AM on September 23, 2010

Serge Gainsbourg - Initials BB (Brigitte Bardot)
posted by Locative at 3:45 AM on September 23, 2010

Wow! thanks - keep 'em coming [I had Bananrama in my preview - nice we had the same thought!]
posted by dash_slot- at 3:52 AM on September 23, 2010

Bauhaus - "Bela Lugosi's dead" ....
posted by dash_slot- at 3:52 AM on September 23, 2010

Well, Slug and Murs have an album called Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci that includes that tracks "Christina Intro," "Ricci Outro," and "Rick James."
posted by pecanpies at 3:53 AM on September 23, 2010

Being John Malkovich: Malkovich Masterpiece - (John Malkovich's remix)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:55 AM on September 23, 2010

Clem Snide, Made For TV Movie (about Lucille Ball).
posted by Catseye at 3:59 AM on September 23, 2010

Leonard Nimoy did at least one song in I think the 1970s. And a good chunk of the Star Trek TNG cast was on an album called, IIRC, "Old Yellow Eyes is Back."
posted by SMPA at 4:02 AM on September 23, 2010

SMPA, Leonard Nimoy's Ballad of Bilbo Baggins deserves to be linked to!
posted by Omnomnom at 4:05 AM on September 23, 2010

Anybody mentioned Jonathan Coulton's Tom Cruise Crazy yet?
posted by Bardolph at 4:18 AM on September 23, 2010

I submit "C. Thomas Howell as The Soul Man" by Botch, though the reference is titular only and the song is probably not appropriate for such a compilation. They also have a song called "John Woo;" same caveats apply.
posted by The Michael The at 4:31 AM on September 23, 2010

David Bowie- Andy Warhol (okay, stretching movie star)
Matthew Sweet- Winona (Winona Ryder)
posted by kimdog at 4:35 AM on September 23, 2010

Hank Pine & Lily Fawn: "David Hasselhoff"
Chocolat: "Johnny Depp"
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:45 AM on September 23, 2010

Sung by movie stars:
Reeves Gabrels' You've Been Around features David Bowie and Gary Oldman on vocals. (The version on Gabrels' The Sacred Squall of Now, not the one on Bowie's Black Tie, White Noise. Sorry, couldn't find a suitable clip to link to.)

An obscure singer named Little Joe Pesci once recorded a version of The Beatles' Got To Get You Into My Life (Somebody stuck a NSFW scene from Casino at the beginning of that clip)

Eddie Murphy put out a non-comedy album some years back, didn't he? And there's always Boogie in Your Butt.

Rick Moranis is recording country music these days.
posted by usonian at 4:59 AM on September 23, 2010

MDC -- John Wayne Was A Nazi
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:59 AM on September 23, 2010

it's in the Guardian piece, but it's a favorite of mine, so I must suggest The Postal Service's Clark Gable
posted by itesser at 5:01 AM on September 23, 2010

No such playlist is complete without The Scofflaws' William Shatner!
posted by Jinkeez at 5:13 AM on September 23, 2010

Well, William Shatner also "sings."
posted by carmicha at 5:27 AM on September 23, 2010

Yo La Tengo - Tom Courtenay
posted by Beardman at 5:28 AM on September 23, 2010

Dan Bern - Marilyn - what Marilyn Monroe's life would have been like if she had married Henry Miller instead of Arthur Miller.
posted by mochapickle at 5:29 AM on September 23, 2010

Savannah Smiles by Okkervil River is a good one about a star (albeit a pornstar), which was also nominated in something I once read as one of the saddest songs of all time.

Another Steve McQueen song is the unsurprisingly titled Steve McQueen by Drive By Truckers.
posted by broadway bill at 5:29 AM on September 23, 2010

Roy Rogers, from Elton John's Goodby Yellow Brick Road.
posted by Sculthorpe at 5:31 AM on September 23, 2010

A whole ton of songs by Wesley Willis are about movie stars :)

Not a movie star herself, but you'll get the picture from the video for Wesley's song Alanis Morrissette.
posted by jozxyqk at 5:33 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have to throw in the caveat that most or all of these songs aren't really about celebrities -- they just mention them over the course of the song and are named after them. Whereas, e.g., "Candle in the Wind" is actually wholly about Marilyn Monroe. Does this fall within the purview of what you're looking for?

Barenaked Ladies - Brian Wilson

Cake - Meanwhile Rick James

Cake - Frank Sinatra

Nine Days - Bob Dylan (kind of ashamed that I know this one)

Belle and Sebastian - Piazza New York Catcher (about Mike Piazza, for those of you not well-versed in the past decade of the Mets)

Guster - Timothy Leary (can't find a decent YouTube link for this one)
posted by pluckemin at 5:34 AM on September 23, 2010

Gibby Hanes' side project "P" (band and album) might be of interest. My first thought was of the song "Michael Stipe", which is not only a good song but references a number of actors. The band itself was manned by a couple of actors, most notably Johnny Depp on guitar. This was also the band playing at the Viper Room when River Phoenix died outside while they were singing a song (partly) about him.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:35 AM on September 23, 2010

Annnd apparently I totally misread (or misinterpreted) "actors" as "celebrities" more generally. Which means none of my suggestions are appropriate, except for maybe Frank Sinatra. D'oh.
posted by pluckemin at 5:35 AM on September 23, 2010

Oh, and also check out Milla Jovovich's album, which is lovely and unexpected.
posted by mochapickle at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

My all-time favourite: Nick Lowe's song about Marie Prevost. He spelled her last name wrong, but I suppose that fits the theme of forgotten silent stars. Lyrics.
posted by Beardman at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2010

I helped Patrick McGoohan escape byt the Times.
posted by itsjustanalias at 5:37 AM on September 23, 2010

Manic Street Preachers - Let Robeson Sing
Adam Green - Jessica
posted by elsietheeel at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2010

Rufus Wainwright - Natasha

Also I don't think She & Him counts because the OP asked for actors who don't normally sing. And Zooey Deschanel sings a lot; two albums so far and several films.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:51 AM on September 23, 2010

Pony Up! - Matthew Modine
posted by pemberkins at 5:58 AM on September 23, 2010

There are a whole bunch of these listed in this forum post at

A couple more I don't see mentioned either there or here:

Ingrid Bergman - Billy Bragg and Wilco

Car Jamming - The Clash ("I thought I saw Lauren Bacall")
posted by Dojie at 6:08 AM on September 23, 2010

The White Stripes - Take Take Take
posted by amicamentis at 6:10 AM on September 23, 2010

Ozma - Natalie Portman
posted by Jorus at 6:15 AM on September 23, 2010

John Prine - Picture Show - about James Dean (mostly)
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:16 AM on September 23, 2010

Size 14 - Claire Danes Poster

The semi-novelty song from the mid 90s featuring the refrain "I'm gonna pick up some beer, and stay at home, and stare at my Claire Danes Poster."
posted by AgentRocket at 6:47 AM on September 23, 2010

Probably a stretch, but I submit for your review, Taylor Swift's song "Tim McGraw". Tim McGraw's claim to fame is as a singer, but he has also appeared in movies.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:53 AM on September 23, 2010

Miss Kittin & the Hacker - "Frank Sinatra"
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:05 AM on September 23, 2010

U2's strange Elvis Presley and America, and Mathew Sweet's Winona (and you'll have to settle for a Japanese guy singing the song since I can't find the original on YouTube).
posted by cropshy at 7:08 AM on September 23, 2010

A folk singer named Hugh Blumenfeld has a hysterical song called "John Wayne (Was a Thespian)." Lyrics here; should link to mp3 for purchase.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:09 AM on September 23, 2010

Robert Mitchum by Julian Cope
posted by nomisxid at 7:11 AM on September 23, 2010

The Beach Boys - A Young Man is Gone (James Dean)
posted by Devoidoid at 7:12 AM on September 23, 2010

Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Kiss Them For Me" (Jayne Mansfield)
posted by Madamina at 7:22 AM on September 23, 2010

Al Stewart - "Year of the Cat" ("On a morning from a Bogart movie / In a country where they've turned back time / you go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime...")

Suzanne Vega - "Marlene on the Wall" (Marlene Dietrich). Also "Freeze Tag" (another Bogart/Bacall reference)

Bertie Higgins - "Key Largo"
posted by dnash at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2010

My two personal favorite songs about specific stars are River Phoenix by Nada Surf and Sandra by The Smoking Popes (about Sandra Bernhard). Also, I believe every single song by the band Edie Sedgwick is about a different celebrity.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:35 AM on September 23, 2010

Also Tom Waits is a movie star in his own right, and Goin' Out West is a song about heading out to Hollywood to be a leading man.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2010

John Mayer's Your Body is a Wonderland is, supposedly, all about Jennifer Love Hewitt.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:45 AM on September 23, 2010

Natalie Merchant, "River," about River Phoenix's death.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:53 AM on September 23, 2010

Here's one that's both by and about - Bette Davis Eyes - Gwyneth Paltrow
posted by doctord at 8:23 AM on September 23, 2010

Ahem. David Duchovy, why won't you love me...

Additionally, some others that haven't been suggested yet that might interest you from when I tried a similar playlist...
* Gene Autry (Beulah)
* Ingrid Bergman (Billy Bragg & Wilco)
* Grace Kelly Blues (The Eels) and Grace Kelly (Mika) which less about Grace Kellyherself
* Not sure if she counts, but there's Be My Yoko Ono (Barenaked Ladies) and I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono (Dar Williams). That's not even getting into all the songs about various Beatles.
* Common People (William Shatner) is pretty great
posted by maryr at 8:37 AM on September 23, 2010

The Mountain Goats have "Song for Dana Plato" and "Song for Tura Satana."
posted by Zozo at 8:45 AM on September 23, 2010

Jo-Jo's Jacket by Stephen Malkmus is about Yul Brynner (well, the opening is, anyway).

And it's a really good song.

Some lyrics:

I'm not what you think I am
I'm the king of Siam
I've got a bald head
My name is Yul Brynner
And I am a famous movie star
Perhaps you saw me in Westworld
I acted like a robotic cowboy
It was my best role
I can not deny I
Felt right home deep inside
That electronic carcass
posted by The World Famous at 9:26 AM on September 23, 2010

Morrisey Rides a Cockhorse by the Warlock Pinchers.
posted by Sheppagus at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2010

Los Rancheros - Adam and the Ants (Clint Eastwood, kinda)
Yul Brynner Was a Skinhead - Toy Dolls
James Bond Lives Down Our Street - Toy Dolls
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:27 AM on September 23, 2010

Elvis Is Everywhere by Mojo Nixon
Steve McQueen by Sheryl Crow
Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus

And by stars: no anthology should be without Kinky Boots by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:52 PM on September 23, 2010

What's Yr Take on Cassavetes? - Le Tigre
posted by painquale at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2010

Michael Douglas by Neon Neon
posted by spork at 1:32 PM on September 23, 2010

I Love Lee Remick by The Go-Betweens (Gregory Peck has a mention)
posted by goshling at 1:48 PM on September 23, 2010

Natalie's Rap by The Lonely Island is both about Natalie Portman, and features an actor singing; Natalie Portman.
posted by trialex at 3:09 PM on September 23, 2010

One of my favorite, obscure, celebrity songs...Tori by Hummmr. Kinda sweet and nostalgic for the good ol' days of the original 90210.
posted by buzzkillington at 3:15 PM on September 23, 2010

This surfaced on Twitter today.
posted by maryr at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2010

White Town - Hair Like Alain Delon (sorry, I can't find a video link.. great song, though!)
posted by Mael Oui at 7:43 PM on September 23, 2010

Ryan Gosling is in a band called Dead Man's Bones.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt sings Bad Romance.
posted by shannonm at 7:47 PM on September 25, 2010

Ash - Kung Fu (Jackie Chan)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:43 PM on October 2, 2010

Patrick Swayze - "She's Like the Wind"

Burt Ward - "Orange Colored Sky"
posted by Sys Rq at 6:50 PM on October 2, 2010

Peter Fonda - "November Night"
posted by Locative at 4:50 AM on November 9, 2010

Madonna's Vogue mentions an array of stars (mostly movie icons with the exception of Joe DiMaggio). The mentioned are:

Greta Garbo,
Marilyn Monroe,
Marlene Deitrich,
Joe DiMaggio,
Marlon Brando,
Jimmy Dean,
Grace Kelly,
Jean Harlow,
Gene Kelly,
Fred Astaire
Ginger Rogers,
Rita Hayworth,
Lauren Becall,
Katherine Hepburn,
Lana Turner,
Bette Davis.
posted by easilyconfused at 1:23 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Soundtracks of

8 femmes (Emmanuelle Béart, Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant, Danielle Darrieux, Virginie Ledoyen, etc),
Grease (John Travolta, Stockard Channing, etc),
Across the Universe (Evan Rachel Wood, etc),
Family Hero (Emmanuelle Béart, Catherine Deneuve),
Les parapluies de Cherbourg (Catherine Deneuve, Je ne pourrai jamais vivre sans toi),
Chicago (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, John C. Reiley, etc),
Walk the Line (Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix)
Paul Joey (Rita Hayworth, Kim Novak)
High Society (Grace Kelly, duets True Love with Bing Crosby)
La Môme (Although the soundtrack is strictly Piaf's works, Marion Cotillard did sing a couple of times, not in the movie, could be found on Youtube)
Nine (Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day Lewis, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, etc)
Hairspray (John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Effron, Christopher Walken, etc)
Mama Mia (Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, etc)
Rent (Rosario Dawson, etc)

In Sabrina, Audrey Hepburn sang La vie en Rose, she also had a cover of Happy Birthday to JFK however overshadowed by Monroe's version. lolz.
posted by easilyconfused at 2:15 AM on December 16, 2010

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