Top Music, Film or TV Crossover Artists of the '80s

This particular phenomenon continues today, perhaps stronger than ever, but during the '80s perhaps more than any decade before, stars of the big and small screen were just dying for music careers, not to mention vice-versa. Some of these artists' careers almost expired during this process, but that didn't stop the fireworks in a rubbernecking-to-see-a-car-accident sort of way. Step back in time for a look (in no particular order) at the best and worst of these curiosities, the most notable acting musicians and musically active actors of the '80s.

Single Cover Image Courtesy of RCA

The star of the 1987 sleeper film must have been owed some serious favors that allowed him to record "She's Like the Wind." The lyrics from this song boast one of the worst lines in music history: "She's like the wind through my trees." Nonsensical has never had it this good. If there were merely one tree, at least it could be interpreted as an offbeat phallic reference. It still wouldn't make any damn sense, but at least there'd be something to hang your hat on... literally. More »

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Bruce Willis

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Universal

Fresh off his hit TV show and right before he became a full-fledged film star with 1988's , perhaps Bruce Willis felt like the obvious thing to do was release a half-baked collection of Motown-inspired R&B for a phantom audience. Well, I don't know if that much forethought went into it, but that's certainly all Willis accomplished with this exercise in celebrity self-gratification. Neither the song choices nor performances inspire emotion of any kind, never managing anything more than disinterested disgust.

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Rick Springfield

Album Cover Image Courtesy of RCA
A case could be made that this Australian heartthrob doesn't quite qualify as a crossover artist since his efforts in film, TV and music were always more simultaneous than influenced by one another. Nonetheless, maybe the organic nature of Springfield's dual career helped him generate greater quality in his work. After all, Springfield was believable if a bit bland as Apollo's doomed brother Zack in TV's original . We already should know he was an underrated, genuine musician.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of Sire
This '80s pop queen has always had significantly less luck when it comes to her onscreen appearances, and these stumbles began in earnest with 1985's . Somehow all the charisma at her command could not turn Madonna into a convincing actor, but you certainly can't accuse her of being a quitter. followed in 1987, but the singer reached her '80s film nadir with her embarrassing turn as Breathless Mahoney in the ill-fated . More »
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Don Johnson

Album Cover Image Courtesy of SBME Import

Only in the '80s could Mr. Five o'Clock Shadow have worn what he wore on or emote like a madman in the music video for his biggest pop offering "Heartbeat." But the decade was nothing if not permissive, and that leaves music audiences with considerable carnage following Johnson's foray into vocal excess. The "Heartbeat" music video was a real bodice-ripper, cloaked in black and white and featuring more fist-clenching, over-the-top exultation than I ever thought possible.

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Eddie Murphy

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Legacy/Columbia

Well, it was impossible to avoid this one, though I certainly considered it. Murphy's first venture into music had been on an otherwise all-comedy album, and its title, "Boogie in Your Butt," should have been enough warning to music executives not to let him record any more music. But as Bobbi Flekman says in , "Money talks and bull solid waste walks," or something like that. So record Murphy did, and even Rick James' help on "Party All the Time" couldn't stop the disaster.

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Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

Over the course of his long and successful career, very few things Gordon Sumner touched turned out badly, and that goes for his thespian endeavors as well. His turns in , , and were always interesting, quirky and dark, and somehow they seemed to both add to and strangely coincide with the work he did with The Police. The evidence of Sting's diverse talent is obvious in that both his film and music careers continue to flourish today.

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David Bowie

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Virgin

Similar to Sting, David Bowie has always shown an ability to adapt to very different circumstances in the entertainment business. He reinvented himself several times musically but generally remained an oddity of some kind or another. That quality translated well to his film roles, both of the dark variety and the more childlike make-believe fare like . Bowie remains a multi-purpose media star today, obviously.

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John Stamos

DVD Cover Image Courtesy of Warner Home Video

The former soap star and major ensemble player on TV's inexplicably beloved never hid the fact within his roles that he really wanted to be a musician. Bad-boy rocker Uncle Jesse therefore took the first opportunity he got to play music more seriously, though that blew up in his face a bit with his involvement with the revamped, "Kokomo"-era Beach Boys. Though he never cultivated an actual musical career, we're all still trying to wipe that particular tune from our collective memory.

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Jack Wagner

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Jack Wagner

We all know celebrity is an unbelievably powerful thing, and when could that fact be more clear than in an examination of the career of former soap star Jack Wagner? He parlayed General Hospital fame into a hit song in 1984, with the emotive but tepid ballad "All I Need." Since then Wagner has furthered the marriage of these two mass media forms for his own benefit, and a few years back he even released a new CD in connection with another soap opera: .

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Your Citation
Peake, Steve. "Top Music, Film or TV Crossover Artists of the '80s." ThoughtCo, Feb. 21, 2017, Peake, Steve. (2017, February 21). Top Music, Film or TV Crossover Artists of the '80s. Retrieved from Peake, Steve. "Top Music, Film or TV Crossover Artists of the '80s." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 22, 2017).