Stars are born: Female singers in the movies

It seems everywhere you look at the moment, there is Lady Gaga. To say she is heavily promoting her big screen debut, A Star Is Born, is an understatement. I haven’t been to see it yet but it got me thinking about female singers and movies. Let’s face it; it’s a mixed bag isn’t it?

Another big singer in the movies this year has been Cher. I can’t bring myself to watch Mamma Mia 2 (sorry I know it was popular, but I just can’t) so I don’t know what her performance was like. Cher has had some brilliant moments on the big screen, especially in the 80s when she really had the bit between her teeth. Silkwood, Mask, Suspect and Moonstruck were belters. She was also brilliant in The Witches of Eastwick, in fact I’m due another watch of that most definitely. Then it all seemed to go a bit belly up. Mermaids was so bad I left the cinema early, then it was Burlesque and now Mamma Mia. I’m presuming she’s going for fun rather than heavy but it feels a bit of a let-down to me after she worked so hard to prove herself. Mamma Mia is her first foray in 7 years so let’s hope she’s got the bug again and will come back with a seriously good role.

Poor old Madge may have turned 60 this year and be the most successful female recording artist ever but cinema success has been elusive. As a fully paid  up Madonna fan, I have loyally sat through many a shocker – Shanghai Surprise, Next Best Thing, Body of Evidence and the truly horrific Swept Away. It’s not that Madonna can’t act when she wants to, she played a blinder in Evita and Desperately Seeking Susan and I think she was great in Dick Tracy and Who’s That Girl. It just seems that someone as headstrong as our Madge is probably fairly difficult to direct. So what has she done? Turned her hand to directing and she’s not made too bad a job of it. I really liked W.E., it looked beautiful but she tried too hard with the dual story and lost a bit of audience, a straight biopic would probably have been a winner. I predict we will see some success in this area in the future, you heard it here first.

Dear departed Whitney protected her movie legacy a little better, her roles in The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife have all stood the test of time with some belting tracks to go with them. It’s such a shame her demons took control because we may have seen some really good performances from her as she got a little older.

But the Queen of going from recording studio to movie set is Barbra Streisand. She’s got to be the blueprint for all chanteuses wanting to make the leap with her Oscar and Golden Globe success and I would imagine Gaga is channelling her with a remake of A Star Is Born. I like the fact Babs doesn’t take herself too seriously and did Meet The Fockers for a bit of fun too but like Cher, we could do with a new role that makes us remember why we love her on the big screen.

It will be interesting to see which other singers will make a stab at it. Rihanna has made a strong start, she was great in Battleship. Obviously Ariana and Miley have a lot of previous experience but that may go against them in trying to lose the saccharine sweet screen presence they have launched themselves from. I think Taylor Swift and Katy Perry would suffer the Madonna effect where audiences find it hard to disassociate the star from the character but I could be wrong.

But until then, I will go and see A Star Is Born and maybe dust off my copy of Evita.

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