Deep down, every actor wants to be a rock star. Based on how often pop stars cameo in movies, it seems that plenty of musicians want a chance to star on the big screen. Sometimes, the roles are playful wink-and-nod cameos that hinge on the act's popularity when the movie was made, like the uncredited appearance of Huey Lewis in Back to the Future. Other times, the cameos are no-brainer fits, like Daft Punk in Tron: Legacy, or downright meta, like Cyndi Lauper in The Goonies.
As a result of the collapse of the compact disc industry, and the need for artists to find other sources of revenue for their music, the complexity of licensing popular songs for use in movies has increased in recent years, along with the cost. For artists looking to raise their profile, appearing in a movie they've given a song to is just icing on the cake. At the very least, they get a chance to show their skills to a new audience, and sometimes, they can create a classic movie moment.
Few bands so perfectly capture the desired "feel" of a movie that they are sought out before a director is even hired, but Daft Punk and Tron are the perfect pairing. The French electronic duo's look and sound inspired Disney's production team when they were in the formative stages of developing a sequel to the 1982 classic Tron. Walt Disney Studios President Mitchell Leib spent "four or five months" trying to get the band to commit to score the film, and they finally relented after they found a way to work around restrictive French copyright laws. Daft Punk fully committed, putting off all other work - "no tours, no more records, nothing" - for 19 months as they scored the film. The soundtrack debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Daft Punk's first top 10 debut in the United States. It would go on to be certified gold and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album for Visual Media.
With their robot aesthetic onstage, Daft Punk already seem to exist in a digital world, so they were naturals to appear in Tron: Legacy. Just as a fight is about to break out in a digital nightclub between Sam Flynn and the minions of Clu, Daft Punk can be seen looking out onto the dance floor in Tron-ized versions of their robot costumes. They start spinning their memorable track "Derezzed" just as the melee begins. The duo even appeared at Disney's premiere of Tron: Legacy in full robot regalia.5111Great cameo?
- Photo: Lions Gate Films
It took a change of scenery, a new sound, and some heartache for Alanis Morissette to break out, but break out she did - and in a big way. After recording two dance-pop albums in Canada, Morissette moved to LA and filled her new post-grunge pop album Jagged Little Pill with equal parts anger and whimsy to become an "overnight" sensation in 1995. Jagged Little Pill sold over 33 million albums and was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning five, making the 21-year-old artist the youngest musician to ever achieve the honor. It is considered by Rolling Stone to be one of the greatest albums of all time.
It's hard to follow that sort of success and, though it sold 469,000 copies in its first week, her 1998 follow-up album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie was far less successful and hardly as influential. Morissette began to branch out from studio album recording, contributing songs and vocals to other media. In 1999, she wrote the song "Still" for the soundtrack to Kevin Smith's fourth View Askew movie, Dogma. The song was nominated in Canada for the Satellite Award for Best Original Song.
Though she hadn't acted since 1993, Morissette was offered a small but important role in Dogma after Emma Thompson had to leave the production. At the end of the film, when all of the out-of-control antics caused by fallen angels Loki and Bartleby threaten to wipe out all of existence, Morissette shows up as the embodiment of God to set things right. Morissette's God was yet another in a long string of controversial characters and themes in the movie, but it didn't stop Dogma from becoming Smith's most successful View Askewniverse film. Morissette later reprised the role in a post-credits scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.458Great cameo?
- Photo: Universal Pictures
Thanks in part to Huey Lewis and the News, blues rock had a bit of a revival in the mid-'80s. The band's third album, Sports, reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts when it was released in 1984 and tracks from the album were in heavy rotation on radio stations throughout the country. With their bluesy sound and MTV appeal, composer Alan Silvestri thought they would be the perfect band for Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future in 1985. Silvestri reasoned that Marty McFly - a musician and fan of blues-rock icon Chuck Berry - would likely be a fan of a group like Huey Lewis and the News, and Zemeckis agreed and even put a Sports poster on Marty's wall.
The studio wanted a theme song and Huey Lewis and the News gave them "The Power of Love." To make up for its lack of a thematic connection, the band also provided the track "Back in Time," which directly referenced the movie in its lyrics. Both songs played at pivotal moments in the movie: "The Power of Love" introduced Marty McFly and Hill Valley during a memorable skateboard sequence, while "Back in Time" woke Marty up after his trip to the past to let him know he was back to the future. As sort of an "inside joke," Zemeckis cast Lewis in the uncredited role of a high school talent judge at Marty's Hill Valley High School. When Marty and his band the Pinheads launch into "The Power of Love" during their Battle of the Bands audition, Lewis's character cuts off them short, telling them through a megaphone, "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."351Great cameo?
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Cyndi Lauper ditched her Brooklyn rockabilly band Blue Angel and went solo in 1983. In just two years' time, she went from unknown to omnipresent multi-media personality. Her music videos received heavy rotation on MTV for their theatrical and festive aesthetic, peppered with flamboyant personalities like "Captain" Lou Albano. In 1984, she was the most nominated artist at the MTV Video Music Awards, and her "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" won Best Female Video. Her rapid ascent earned her Best New Artist at the 27th Grammy Awards and drew the attention of Steven Spielberg, who hired her to be the musical director for the soundtrack to director Richard Donner's The Goonies.
Lauper wrote and recorded the movie's theme song, "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough," and created a two-part, 12-minute music video for the song. Donner directed the video, filming portions of it on Goonies sets, and included the Goonies themselves in the video's wacky pirate-witch-mermaid plot. Lauper also had a cameo in the movie as herself, performing "Good Enough" on TV while "Brand" Walsh exercises.
Lauper's cameo in The Goonies opens up a mind-bending meta-movie conundrum: If the Goonies are watching themselves in her music video, does that mean the characters were actually all child actors who then went on to have the "real" adventure depicted in the movie? Was the video director somehow prophetic, foretelling that the Goonies would have an adventure including a cave and pirates? Or, was the music video a reenactment of their first adventure as the Goonies that they all somehow forgot by the opening of the movie? Could the Goonies be stuck in some sort of Groundhog Day time loop? Questions, questions...325Great cameo?