10. Kevin Costner. If Kevin Costner was really serious about his music career, he would’ve kicked it off in the 80s, when he was riding high on the success of Bull Durham (1988) and Field of Dreams (1989). But no—first he had to scratch his epic-film itch with Dances with Wolves (1990), and then scratch it again with Waterworld (1995), and then scratch it raw and bloody with The Postman (1997), and then rest for another decade before starting a band. Too little, too late, man.
9. Pac-Man. Despite not singing, or speaking, or having eyes, Pac-Man reached the top 10 in 1982 with Buckner & Garcia’s “Pac-Man Fever,” a rewrite of Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever.” In an early disgrace that foreshadowed a certain big ape’s eventual eclipse by that damned barrel-jumping plumber, Buckner & Garcia’s follow up “Do the Donkey Kong” failed to break the top 100.
8. Dennis Quaid. On the soundtrack of The Big Easy (1987), Quaid did a passable job crooning the ballad “Closer to You.” When he starred as Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1989 biopic Great Balls of Fire!, he proposed doing the Killer’s singing; he was disappointed, however, to be informed that Mr. Lewis would be recording his own vocal parts, thank you very much.
7. Billy Crystal. Yes, Billy Crystal. Riding high as a member of the Saturday Night Live cast in 1985, he turned his catchphrase “You look mahvelous!” into the single “You Look Marvelous.” It peaked at only #58, an unexpected display of restraint and taste by the mid-80s radio audience.
6. Don Johnson. One of the quintessential 80s badasses, Miami Vice star Johnson tossed off the #5 hit “Heartbeat” in 1986 without even taking off his signature white sportcoat.
5. Max Headroom. In the 80s, when you wanted computer animation, you had to make a guy put on a blocky latex mask and move all jerky and awkward. Headroom started as a British TV star before becoming a stateside pop culture icon as the spokesman for New Coke. He guested with Art of Noise on their 1986 hit “Paranoimia” and—because why the hell not?—made a Christmas record.
4. Patrick Swayze. Moment of silence. 233 seconds of “She’s Like the Wind.”
3. Bruce Willis. In characteristic fashion, when it came to his recording career Bruce Willis did not fuck around. He went straight to Motown, recording The Return of Bruno (1987) with collaborators including the Temptations and Booker T. Jones. It seemed like he was having a hard time keeping a straight face, and really, how could you?
2. Rick Springfield. Whereas everyone else on this list was or is a screen star trying to be taken seriously (or at least to cash in) as a musician, Rick Springfield became and remained a serious musician (number fucking one serious, bitches!) who also happened to play a doctor on TV (General fucking Hospital, bitches!).
1. Eddie Murphy. You think Eddie Murphy’s hosting the next Oscars because of Beverly Hills Cop? Because of Dreamgirls? Because of Shrek? No way. Eddie Murphy’s cred in 2011 is 100% due to “Party All the Time.” Please make your checks payable to James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.